Part 6 of the 10 things I wish I knew before I left Africa
NB: This post has a lot of cussing via the music so if that turns you off then skip right by the music tracks and enjoy the article!
This series was only supposed to be seven articles long but I had to show love to Dead Prez. Like Malcolm, there are a lot of things these guys say that I just plain don’t agree with-in fact as I was researching for this article I realized that it was way more than I initially thought. Ultimately, though, I love these cats because their hearts are in the right place: they want to help their communities get free and liberate all oppressed people worldwide through the mic.
Why I Love M1 and stic.man?
1) You Don’t Have to Listen to the Music for Just the Beat: How many of us listen to music ‘just for the beat’ knowing that if we were to absorb in just what the artist is saying (which we usually end up doing anyway) we would be much worse off than before the song began? You don’t even have to worry about that when listening to tracks such as Hip-Hop (below), Happiness and You are what you eat. Through these tracks they educate and encourage. So pop in a Dead Prez CD to get your mind fed by some educated, enlightened, compassionate, respect-worthy men.
2) They Educate and Encourage: Whether its through their books or their interviews or their CDs, Dead Prez strive to give information to their community that they can immediately apply to make their lives better. They talk about the education system, the economic structure, police brutality and a whole host of other issues that truly matter when it’s all said and done. Case in point: You are what you eat (track is at the bottom of the article).
One of the things that absolutely convinced me that I had to do something on these guys was when I heard stic.man’s track ‘I Believe’ (track is at the end of the article). How many people are crippled by a whole host of addictions and need tracks such as ‘I Believe’ to inspire and encourage them?
3) They Unashamedly Criticize the Power Structure: Here they even make me uncomfortable. They are brutal and scathing in their critiques of the power structure and the way that those in power have trampled on and stepped on the little people. They don’t just restrict their critique to the US, as was shown when M1 did a collaboration with Tanzanian artist, Nakaaya called Mr. Politician (track at the end of the article)
4) They Release Intelligent, ‘Real’ Love Songs: When most hip hop artists sing love songs, in the back of my mind I usually think they are probably just doing it for commercial reasons. When Dead Prez release tracks such as ‘Mind Sex‘ and ‘Love You Can’t Borrow‘ you can see that these are people who respect women and respect relationships and are singing about a love that is coming from deep inside them. Plus, how great is the term ‘Mind sex’ for a stimulating, sexy, seductive conversation.
5) They Take Care of their Bodies: Listen to ‘You are what you eat’ one more time and tell me these aren’t brothers who focus on taking care of the bodies that God blessed them with.
6) They Don’t Waste Lyrical Space: Even some of my favourite rappers such as Talib Kweli and Mos Def and a lot of our local artists waste a lot of lyrical space bragging about who they are and what they can do. Dead Prez are probably the only artists I know who completely stepped away from that: I mean why talk about how great a lyricist and an MC you are when you can prove it by doing a hip-hop rendition of Animal Farm (below)
7) They Reached Out to Africa: First they declared that they were Africans, on the track ‘I’m an African’(below). Then,they did a track with Naakaya and then THEY DID A TRACK WITH KALAMASHAKA (below). For those who don’t understand who Kalamashaka are, they are the East African equivalent of Grandmaster Flash; they were some of the first guys to create the East African music industry, which has since exploded, and they did it with clever, socially conscious lyrics. Dead Prez took time to step out of the ghettos of the US and do collabos with some of Africa’s own gifts to music. For that they have my eternal respect.
Right now, I am just buzzing, and I could have said so much more about these two guys but I think I will just leave it right there and let their music speak for itself. Something to say? Even though you disagree, please express yourself.
You are what you eat, so eat blessed and spit out nothing but the blessed,