Lightnin’ Rod, Hustler’s Convention

Jeff Chang

By Jeff Chang

on 04.22.11 in Reviews

Here is one of the blueprints of hip-hop. Released in 1973, Hustler's Convention quickly became a prized breakbeat record and required listening for the first generation of Bronx rappers. It has been in constant revival since, its beats sampled and lines recycled by every new generation of rappers.

Hip-hop’s obsession with the playa lifestyle begins here

Lightnin 'Rod serves as the nom de funk for Umar Bin-Hassan of the Last Poets, who tells the story of a fast-living gambler named Sport, "a down stud's dream, a hustler supreme." When Sport and his partner Spoon hear of a summertime hustler's convention — the game of games — they are small-time players with big style and bigger dreams. They come to Hamhocks Hall ready to make a killing and as the band plays Buddy Miles '"Changes" in the background, they describe a wild, colorful crowd that impresses but doesn't faze "the masters of streetology." Sport and Spoon hurtle toward their fated ends as the exuberantly listenable street tale is backed by a stellar cast of funk musicians including Kool & the Gang, King Curtis, Bernard Purdie, Cornell Dupree, Bobby Matos and Billy Preston.