In 1971, Eugene McDaniels, an R&B singer and songwriter with a penchant for propulsive, jazzy song structures and proselytizing lyrics, released Headless Heroes Of The Apocalypse. The album somehow found its way to then Vice President Spiro Agnew, who found its political messaging alarming enough to call Atlantic Records to complain (a sampling of the lyrics: “Jews and the Arabs, Semitic pawns in the master game/The player who controls the board sees them all as the same, basically cannon fodder”).
This is unfathomable today. It’d be like if Joe Biden called Univeral Music Group to complain about Frank Ocean. But Atlantic was spooked and didn’t push Headless Heroes Of The Apocalypse much further and it disappeared. (As for Agnew, two years later he was forced to resign after being accused of accepting $100,000 in bribes—perhaps he should have been attending to his own ethics rather than derailing politically-charged funk records.)
Two decades later, however, the album took on a second life as food for sample-hungry hip-hop producers, who carved it up like a Thanksgiving turkey. It was sampled by Pete Rock & C.L. Smooth, Eric B. & Rakim, Beastie Boys, Masta Ace, Gravediggaz, Organized Konfusion, A Tribe Called Quest, De La Soul and Jungle Brothers, to name just a few.