The Last Poets are often cited as the first rappers, but even after four decades, their combination of free jazz, soul and spoken word still packs a politically charged punch. Formed during the tumultuous year that was 1968, they were a group of musical agitators and fierce activists over ensuing decades. Now they're wisened elders who still have a fire in their gut and knowledge to impart through words. A whole new generation was introduced to the group when member Umar Bin Hassan dropped a few hot bars on Common and Kanye West's track "The Corner." Seeing the Last Poets at least once should be on the bucket list of any hip-hop, soul and jazz fan. You'll get two chances at Blues Alley. -- Rhome Anderson
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