UP SOUTH IN AKRON OHIO, $10, 7” x 10”, printed, 12 pgs.

Mar 19, 2024

Originally published in 2013 with a print run of just thirty copies, Up South in Akron, Ohio recounts a pivotal incident in the summer of 1959 in the life of Umar Bin Hassan, then a shoeshine boy. Less than ten years later in Harlem, New York, Hassan became a founding member of seminal spoken-word group The Last Poets, who—with their socially conscious and undeniably Black poetry set to a percussive rhythm—laid the blueprint for rap music. Long after finding success in New York and beyond, Hassan enjoyed telling stories to friends about his boyhood in 1950s Akron, and one of these stories especially stood out to Bill Adler, music journalist and critic and former director of publicity at Def Jam Recordings. Adler convinced Hassan to publish this story in comic form in Up South in Akron, Ohio, with illustration by Nate McDonough and lettering by Ed Piskor. It was reprinted in 2023 to coincide with the birthday of Hassan, who is now seventy-six years old and still touring and recording with The Last Poets. Up South in Akron, Ohio is a must-read for fans of The Last Poets and those interested in personal Black stories from the Civil Rights era, especially lesser-told stories of Black lives in the Midwest during this period in U.S. history. –Gina Murrell (Music Arkives Ltd., [email protected])

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