It was a full moon in the middle of June
Hustlers Convention is recorded by Lightnin’ Rod, the pseudonym of Jalal Nuriddin, a member of militant proto-rappers the Last Poets. The album narrates the story of Sport and Spoon – two young hustlers who attend the eponymous convention, only to get tangled up in a financial disagreement that leads to a shootout, police chase and finishes with Sport on Death Row, weighing up what it all means.
The poem caught the interest of Alan Douglas, producer of Jimi Hendrix, Miles Davis and the first two Last Poets albums. Having signed a deal with United Artists, Douglas recorded Nuriddin reciting the toast to a metronome, then set about animating the words with a jazz-funk soundtrack.
Hustlers Convention truly came together when he stumbled on Kool & the Gang while the band were recording in New York in 1973, on the cusp of their breakthrough success. Kool & the Gang were signed to another label, and within a couple of months of the release of Hustlers Convention, United Artists was faced with a lawsuit. It promptly withdrew the record. Without sales or radio play, Hustlers Convention sank commercially, but its reputation grew via word of mouth.