Politically minded rapper Killer Mike is no stranger to speaking his mind, but the Southern MC has a wealth of knowledge about fellow pioneers. The ATLien recently joined MTV for a visit to a New York City record store, naming his favorite political rappers and groups.

Of the noted MCs, Mike pointed out The Last Poets, Public Enemy, dead prez, X-Clan, Ice Cube, Goodie Mob, Ice-T, N.W.A. and 2 Live Crew. “You’re not popular until the government tries to lock your black ass up,” he said. “And that has happened to all of these groups.”

He reflected on spoken word pioneers The Last Poets, likening them to James Brown as the foundation for hip-hop. “Before hip-hop loses all its politics and soul, we’re going to start with The Last Poets,” said Mike. “They were guys who were not doing rap beats, but it was drum and jungle, poetry spoken in rhyme for the people to repeat. It was cool, they looked fly. These guys are considered along with Muhammad Ali and James Brown to be some of the first rappers.”

Additionally, he praised N.W.A.’s “Niggaz4Life,” branding it as one of the must-own records for today’s youth. “Every 25-year-old man should own Fight Club, and every 15-year-old boy should own ‘Niggaz4Life,’” he explained. “If you want rap music to stay great, give this to your sons on their 15th birthday. I’ll say this on record before anyone tries to jack my style, this record is better than The Chronic. This is an album of dope-ass, jamming-ass hardcore social commentary on all points.”

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