“Scared of Revolution” (2018) written, directed and produced by Daniel Krikke is, inspired by the Novel “The Last Poets” by Christine Otten Cinemato.

In the 12 Steps Program of Narcotics Anonymous (NA) the fourth step is described as “We made a searching and fearless moral inventory of ourselves,”— I was reminded of this while watching Daniel Krikke’s deeply moving documentary’s “Scared of Revolution” because it’s a searing portrait of Umar Bin Hassan, a former addict, and member of the highly influential spoken-word group The Last Poets.

From the marketing materials, one would expect to walk away from the film knowing more about the history and importance of The Last Poets and how they shook up music and spoken-word in the 1970s, this is not the case. For the record, The Last Poets have been credited by many insiders as being one of the fundamental building blocks of rap. What the director decided to do is take us on a journey of one of the more prominent members, Umar Bin Hassan, who was born Jerome Huling.

He steps boldly into the mind of Hassan giving him the title of “the Godfather of Rap” following him, now 70, into the dark passages that have shaped his life.

Here’s what we learn. Hassan was born in Baltimore to an abusive and alcoholic father who was also a failed and frustrated musician. Hassan learned betrayal early when his father would take his hard-earned money from his shoe shinning job. Eventually, his father left the family and Hassan made his way to New York City, using the money he stole from his sister for his trip.

In New York, Hassan achieved a measure of success along with critical acclaim with the release of the first Last Poets album in 1970. But then he became addicted to drugs. In NA unless you recognize the first of the 12 steps which are ” We admitted we were powerless over our addiction, that our lives had become unmanageable” an addict will never get a handle of the devastating impact of addiction.

For many agonizing years, Hassan did not step on the “first step” of NA and drugs wreaked havoc on his health and career. In “Scared of Revolution” Hassan is shown recording his powerful poetry (new and old) including excerpts from “Ni****s are Scared of Revolution” which inspired the title of Krikke’s documentary.

Somewhere along his journey, Hassan got clean and in one poem, he talks about the power drugs had in his life when he was an active addict says this: “Drugs have always been a friend of mine/ When I trusted no one else/ When I believed in no one else/ Drugs was always there.”

As if following NA’s 12 steps of recovery Krikke provides moments that tell the uncomfortable truth. Step 8 of NA says: “We made a list of all persons we had harmed, and became willing to make amends to them all.” To wit, one such moment is with Hassan and his elderly mother where she describes the heartbreak that his addiction has caused her over the years. In another equally tender moment, Hassan’s daughter shares what life was like with an absent father. Taking the 8th step to heart, Hassan made an attempt to connect with his father in the 90’s but he found his him, dying, and ultimately had to decide to turn off the life support.

I use the 12 steps of NA to dissent Daniel Krikke’s documentary’s “Scared of Revolution” because the director makes it clear that Hassan has made positive strides in his life, mending fences and achieving a level of peace in his life. One of the last images is the most satisfying and hopeful in it, Hassan ‘s playing with his young grandson something only the gift of sobriety could have provided. “Scared of Revolution” is an excellent film about one man’s journey to find himself.

“Scared of Revolution” is directed/screenwriter/producer by Daniel Krikke.