Welcome to the only official authorized Watts Prophets® website, Talk Up Not Down™. My name is Anthony Amde Hamilton. I am an original founding member of the Watts Prophets® and a native of Watts. The other prophets are Richard Dedeaux and Otis O’Solomon. The Watts Prophets® joined together in 1967 at Budd Schulberg Watts Writers Workshop. We have been together as a group for over forty years, the Watts Prophets® featured two female members, the first was Helen Mingleton in 1967, she named the group Watts Prophets, then Dee Dee McNeil who became a member in 1970 remained for two years, and performed on the second album Rappin’ Black in a White World. Other Artists that came out of the workshop are Ted Lange, Quincy Troop, Yaphet Kotto, Ojenkie, Eric Prestly, Jimmy Sherman, Odie Hawkins, and many others.
The Watts Prophets® have worked and recorded with many of the worlds great artist like Quincy Jones, Don Cherry, Billy Higgins, Horace Tapscott, and Stevie Wonder. I (Amde), baptized Nina Simone into the Ethiopian Orthodox Church, and the prophets were scheduled to record an album with Bob Marley before his untimely transition. Bob visited Watts to work among the gangs with me . I also had the privilege to serve in Bob’s funeral. The Watts Prophets® are a living bridge from the Civil Rights of the sixties to the Hip Hop generation of today. We have been sampled by Dre, DJ Quik, DJ Shadow, Too $hort and others.
The Watts Prophets® have been mistitled as jazz poets. We were born in a community with many of the world’s great jazz musicians. We learned from, as well as interacted with these talented musicians. Sometimes they were the only ones open to something new and would encourage us to continue developing our art form. We also worked with other genres. If you had music we put a poem to it. We used elements from all genres we encountered to flavor the word. The first group to write music for the Watts Prophets® was the Charles Perkins Pleasure Company R & B band. The coined word Rappin™ means to talk, it is a colloquial word used by street people in the African American community, the word had no dictionary meaning, and is not the same word or meaning as Rapping. The first word used and published in the title of our 1970 album is Rappin™. The first word spoken and published on the album is Rappin™ and we opened our first performance in 1967 with the chant ”Rappin Black™, Rappin Facts™, Rappin Black™, Rappin Facts™ “. We understood that we were poets Rappin™, that’s why we titled the art form Rap. Hope you enjoy the website and always TALK UP, NOT DOWN™.
Watts Prophets® first to use the title “Rappin™ ” on an album