The Last Poets
The Last Poets are one of the forefathers of rap. Formed in New York during a Malcolm X birthday celebration in 1968, the group originally consisted of several fiery spoken-word poets at the center of the Black Power movement. The collective split in two before the 1970 release of its classic self-titled debut. (Another version of the group released a 1971 album, Right On!, under the name the Original Last Poets.) Amazingly, The Last Poets skirted the upper reaches of Billboard's Top 200 Albums chart despite fiery, controversial poems such as Umar Bin Hassan's "N****** Are Scared of Revolution" and Alafia Pudim's "Surprises," all set to a stark percussive rhythm. Mick Jagger's acid freak-out movie Performance featured "Wake Up, N******." In 1971, the Last Poets released their masterwork, This Is Madness. The group recorded several albums, experimented with free jazz and funk and shuffled members before winding down in the '80s. The following decade, cofounders Bin Hassan and Abiodun Oyewole reunited for 1997's Time Has Come, introduced their music to the hip-hop generation and collaborated with artists like Common and Nas.