There’s still time to nominate local icons for Best of D.C.
The street-griot tradition spawned by the Watts Prophets (on the West Coast) and the Last Poets (on the East Coast) is the strand of hiphop DNA that never quite gets its due. And any spotlight that does point in their direction tends to focus on the political aggro they kicked up in the late ’60s and early ’70s. Although their politics were an obvious blueprint for Public Enemy and its imitators, the poetry of these pioneers has proved even more influential: They created the vocabulary and tempo for a revolution that would follow in their wake. The Last Poets, who have released work consistently throughout the past decade, have been the more prolific of the two groups. But the Watts Prophets’ 1996 release, When the 90’s Camewhich mixed up the traditional spoken-word attack with grooves skimmed straight from acid jazz and triphopdemonstrated that the West Coast trio can still flow with the best that hiphop has to offer. Much of the Prophets’ time these days is spent conducting writing workshops in schools and prisons, and the chance to hear them preach and teach in the deer-filled wilds of Northern Virginia might be the ultimate urban-gone-suburban experience. The show kicks off at 7:30 p.m. Saturday, Feb. 10, at the Barns of Wolf Trap, 1635 Trap Road, Vienna. $16. (703) 218-6500. (Richard Byrne)