HAILED as one of music’s forgotten masterpieces, a Bolton film-maker is shining the light on Hustlers Convention.

In 1973, Jalal Nuriddin released the rap album under the name Lightnin' Rod.

Although it was sampled by the Wu Tang Clan, Beastie Boys and Nas, as well as lauded by Melle Mel, Chuck D and Grandmaster Flash, it never achieved mainstream impact.

Now Mike Todd has made a documentary billed as a "tale within a tale of ambition, greed, culture identity and of an ongoing struggle to get paid".

He had read an old article featuring hip hop pioneer Fab Five Freddy who said how influential the album was so he tracked down Hustlers Convention.

The 39-year-old, who grew up listening to hip hop, said: "The era it was from, 1973, I had never heard anything like it.

"I had never really seen Hustlers Convention mentioned anywhere."

Curious to find out why the album was so significant and a key part of hip hop culture yet unknown, he arranged to meet Jalal in New York, who agreed to get on board with the documentary.

Mike, who went to Bolton School, said: "It's been quite a while. It took us over two years with the development and the production.

"There was a lot involved in the research.

"We finished it just before Christmas.

"Jalal is our main character and I discovered that he was one of the Last Poets in New York, a well-known spoken word group from the post-Malcolm X era.

"He hadn't performed for years.

"As the project progressed, it seemed to me there was a bigger story than I had imagined.

"The album, shortly after being released, had these legal difficulties hanging over its head.

"There was an issue over a Kool and the Gang track.

"It was being distributed by EMI. They saw it as a fringe project.

"They just pulled the distribution but it had already sold 20 to 30,000 copies."

Hip-hop pioneers — Melle Mel, Grandmaster Caz and Fab 5 Freddy — knew the album by heart and Grandmaster Flash would play it at early block parties.

Mike said: "They got access to it and had heard about it.

"Many people knew the album and the words from it became a street rhyme, from person to person.

"It had a real impact at grass roots."

The album tells the story of brothers Sport and Spoon — two young hustlers who attend the eponymous convention, get tangled up in a financial disagreement that leads to a shootout, police chase and ends with Sport, on Death Row, weighing up what it all means.

Mike said: "I think, for Jalal, there was a missing piece of history — not just because it was his album.

"He had always had high hopes for the album.

"Over the years, he never earned a penny from it.

"He was still known because the Last Poets were successful and influential.

"He managed to live as an artist but he never had the breakthrough success that that album would've brought.

"Chuck D from Public Enemy came on board. We interviewed him for the film and he felt it was an important story and a missing piece of cultural history.

"He came on board as an executive producer.

"His involvement really gave us some degree of credibility that this was an important story as he is an expert in that area."

The father-of-two, who lived in Bromley Cross as a youngster, has been making films for 10 years and produces original documentaries uncovering little-known but influential stories through media production company Riverhorse.

In 2011, his film Joe Frazier: When the Smoke Clears had its world premiere in Philadelphia.

The feature documentary told the story of the Olympic and heavyweight champion boxer's life and career and the demise of his iconic Philadelphia gym.

Mike, who did a degree in American Studies at Hull University, said: "The Joe Frazier film had got some critical acclaim.

"Chuck D had seen that film and was a big fan of it.

"We are interested in untold stories, we might look at popular history.

"Our very first documentary was set in Bolton and Wigan."

The film — Catch: the hold not taken — contrasts the billion dollar phenomenon of professional wrestling with its humble roots of Lancashire ‘Catch-as-catch-can’ wrestling.

Mike said: "The history of Lancashire wrestling is totally missing again but the impact it had around the world is huge."

The film-makers are now submitting Hustlers Convention to be shown at film festivals across the globe and it will be released on DVD later this year.