Abiodun Oyewole is a poet, teacher and founding member of the American music and spoken-word group The Last Poets, usually considered to be the first hip hop group. As critic Jason Ankeny wrote, "With their politically charged raps, taut rhythms, and dedication to raising African-American consciousness, the Last Poets almost single-handedly laid the groundwork for the emergence of hip-hop." The group was born on May 19, 1968, Malcolm X's birthday, when Abiodun and two others, David Nelson and Gylan Kain, read poetry in tribute to Malcolm X.
Oyewole was forced to leave the group when he was sent to prison in North Carolina. While there, he became eligible for study release and began formal education. He earned an undergraduate degree in Raleigh and went on to earn a doctorate from Columbia University. He currently tours the world giving performances and lectures. He is the author of Branches of the Tree of Life: The Collected Poems of Abiodun Oyewole 1969-2013 and On A Mission: Selected Poems and a History of the Last Poets.