Previously unreleased, courtesy of Father Amde Hamilton & Hines Buchanan
Father Amde Hamilton is one of the Watts Prophets. As noted in a previous column, he is a major pioneer in West Coast Poetic & Hip Hop History. Besides his many audio recordings, Hamilton also has a book of his poems titled, "Me Today You Tomorrow. "Wisdom & Knowledge" is a previously unrecorded poem from the book, and a favorite of Bob Marley, who wanted to record it. In the early 1980s Marley spent significant time collaborating and making music with the Watts Prophets and Amde Hamilton. Hamilton eventually performed this poem at Marley's funeral. The first stanza of the poem sets the tone:
Wisdom and Knowledge left college
Wisdom went east to a feast
Knowledge went north, south, east and west
In conquest, Technology became life's test
Wisdom hid cause of what knowledge did
Hid away 'til Judgment day.
Hines Buchanan is a Los Angeles based producer, vocal artist and comic. Buchanan has been deep in the L.A. hip-hop underground since he attended Radiotron early on in his youth. A few years later, he was an intern at Rap Pages magazine before he graduated high school. By 21, he worked with B-Boy Kingdom, Loud Records and Rumble/Pickininny Records where he learned grassroots distribution and promotion. This led him to the legendary Project Blowed, where he worked behind the scenes for over a decade, learning production techniques from the Rhymin' Riddlore and collaborating with Aceyalone in the creation of "Project Blowed Presents the Good Brothers." Eventually, Buchanan DJed many of Aceyalone's live shows and accompanied him on tour.
While Buchanan was on the road with Aceyalone, Father Amde Hamilton attended the show in Eureka. Buchanan recalls, "Acey had a recording session the next day and invited Amde. Amde came to the room I was in and heard my music. He told me about this piece 'Wisdom and Knowledge' and that he never got to record it. He performed the poem and a recent beat I made popped into my head as a perfect match. I played it for him, he liked it and we recorded it. It was an honor to work with him." Buchanan has a forthcoming album and this track hints at what's to come. And for those that haven't checked the Watts Prophets -- buy their records or Hamilton's book.
Here's to the Wisdom & Knowledge of these two titans of L.A. Letters.
Blackbird is an alumni of Los Angeles High School during the golden era of Los Angeles hip hop. His musical roots date back to a crew called Darkleaf and the Good Life Café. After years of crews and touring the West Coast, the man born Gershwin Hutchinson flies mostly solo these days, with a vocal range that shifts between rapping, singing, spoken word, and improvised voices. Most recently he has recorded with the famed L.A. native and former member of Jurassic 5, DJ Cut Chemist. They've been friends since the early 90s when they connected through the well-respected Los Angeles MC, Hymnal, and at places like the Good Life, the Afterlife, backyard barbeques, and Pico & Arlington. Their recent 12-inch vinyl release "Outro-Revisited" features a massive drum-track delivered by Deantoni Parks of Mars Volta.
Cut Chemist and Blackbird recently did a four-show West Coast Tour titled "Tunnel Vision," performing at the House of Blues in Anaheim, Sunset Strip and San Diego and the Mezzanine in San Francisco. Cut Chemist's new album is titled "Tunnel Vision," and features Blackbird among others. More shows and recordings between the two are in the works.
Blackbird embodies tunnel vision with his focus. Besides Cut Chemist, he's been working with Dallas Reeves on ZAPATALISTIC as well as an EP he recently recorded with Thavius Beck. He reflects on his work ethic, "I feel that i've honed my skill into a revered katana sword, of the Japanese Samurai warrior. It's sharp, distinct, and slender and you really don't wanna be on the other end of it."
Cut Chemist and Blackbird are Los Angeles natives and Samurais of L.A. Letters.
More on L.A. Letters:
- L.A. Letters Guide to Finding Poetry in Los Angeles
- Rapping the Message of Long Beach's Cambodia Town
- Beats & Rhymes: Detroit vs. Los Angeles
- See the L.A. Letters archives
Mike Sonksen aka Mike the Poet is a spoken word artist, tour guide, educator, journalist, and historian. L.A. Letters celebrates bright moments from literary Los Angeles with spoken and written word. See his Departures StoryShare videos here and here. Keep up with his activities by following his tumblr and Youtube channel.
Top photo of Blackbird & Cut Chemist by Cathode Ray Gun