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The Watts Prophets

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Title: The Watts Prophets  
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Subject: Anthony Hamilton, Land of Look Behind, It Takes a Thief (album), Jazz rap, Spoken word
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The Watts Prophets

The Watts Prophets
Also known as Watts Prophets
Origin Watts, California
Genres Rap, Hip-hop, Jazz, Spoken word, Poetry
Years active 1967–present
Members Richard Dedeaux
Father Amde Hamilton (born Anthony Hamilton)
Otis O'Solomon

The Watts Prophets are a group of musicians and poets from Watts, Los Angeles, California. Like their contemporaries The Last Poets, the group combined elements of jazz music and spoken-word performance, making the trio one that is often seen as a forerunner of contemporary hip-hop music. Formed in 1967, the group comprises Richard Dedeaux, Father Amde Hamilton (born Anthony Hamilton), and Otis O'Solomon (also billed as Otis O'Solomon Smith)[1]


  • History 1
  • Discography 2
  • References 3
  • Films 4
  • External links 5
  • See also 6


Hamilton, O'Solomon, and Dedeaux first met and collaborated at the Budd Schulberg in the wake of the Watts Riots, as the African American civil rights movement was beginning to take a new cultural turn. Fusing music with jazz and funk roots with a rapid-fire, spoken-word sound, they created a sound that gave them a considerable local following, but little commercial success. They released two albums, 1969's The Black Voices: On the Streets in Watts and 1971's Rappin' Black in a White World, which established a strong tendency toward social commentary and a reputation for militancy. Despite considerable acclaim, the group was unable to secure another record deal; a promising deal with Bob Marley's Tuff Gong label famously fell through. Unable to sustain success, the group has performed only sporadically since the mid-1970s.

In recent years, the group's profile has improved somewhat. In the late 1990s the Watts Prophets signed with David Lieberman Artists' Representatives ( to handle their exclusive booking engagements around the world. The 1997 recording, When the 90's Came, found them in the studio with pianist Horace Tapscott, and a European tour reunited the trio with former collaborator DeeDee McNeil. In 2005, Things Gonna Get Greater: The Watts Prophets 1969-1971 combined the group's first two efforts, bringing them back into print for the first time in more than a decade.

Amde Hamilton, who is a priest of the Ethiopian Orthodox Tewahedo Church,[2] can be seen performing a spoken-word piece at the 1981 funeral service of Bob Marley in Jamaica in the 1982 film Land of Look Behind.

In 1994, the group appeared on the Stolen Moments: Red Hot + Cool, appearing on a track entitled "Apprehension" alongside Don Cherry.[3] The album, meant to raise awareness of the AIDS epidemic in African-American society was named "Album of the Year" by Time Magazine.

Richard Dedeaux died in December 2013.[4]


  • 1969 - The Black Voices: On the Streets in Watts
  • 1971 - Rappin' Black in a White World
  • 1997 - When the 90's Came
  • 2005 - Things Gonna Get Greater: The Watts Prophets 1969-1971 (compilation)


  1. ^ O'Solomon removed the "Smith" from his name in the 1970s.
  2. ^ Hamilton was the third American to be ordained as a priest of the Ethiopian Orthodox Tewahedo Church.
  3. ^
  4. ^
  • Cross, Brian (1993). It's Not About a Salary: Rap, Race, and Resistance in Los Angeles. The Haymarket series. London and New York: Verso.


External links

  • Allmusic bio
  • Citypaper article, Major Jackson
  • Amde Hamilton page

See also

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