#17. KMD
With an emphasis on quirky production and playful song concepts KMD were the least overtly militant members of hip-hop’s early ’90s Five Percent rap pack. Even the group’s classic anti-Sambo symbol came off less like a confrontational political statement than a lampoon of antiquated prejudices. Ironic then that the crew’s career would be derailed by an art controversy: the cover to 1994’s cynical sophomore LP Black Bastards featured an illustration by crew leader Zev Love X of the same Sambo character being lynched, imagery apparently touchy enough to eventually cause KMD to lose its deal with Elektra Records. Years later Zev would merge art and life more explicitly under his new identity, the masked “Super Villain” M.F. Doom.