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Amde Hamilton, founding member of the Watts Prophets, on growing up in South LA and the power of art




Amde Hamilton is one of the founding members of the legendary group, the Watts Prophets, along with Richard Dedeaux and Otis O' Solomon. (Screenshot from Amde Hamilton video, Difficultez Technical.)
Amde Hamilton is one of the founding members of the legendary group, the Watts Prophets, along with Richard Dedeaux and Otis O' Solomon. (Screenshot from Amde Hamilton video, Difficultez Technical.)
Photo courtesy of Amde Hamilton

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One of the early groups to come from Watts after the events of 1965 was the Watts Prophets. The group combined jazz, funk and spoken word to create some of the most memorable poetry of the time.

They're also seen as a key precursor to hip-hop.

"We were the ones that weren't being represented in South Central Los Angeles," said Amde Hamilton, who formed the Watts Prophets along with Richard Dedeaux  and Otis O' Solomon.

"We couldn't cross Alameda when I was a young man, and we couldn't go very far across Figueroa, [and] we were restricted by those boundaries," said Hamilton.

"So yes, we did feel very isolated."

The poetry from the Watts Prophets – and others who participated in the early days of the influential Watts Writers Workshop – aimed to address that experience through the arts.

View a 1993 video from the Watts Prophets:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8_UKTvD_msc