Dead Prez

With hip hop duo Dead Prez about to storm the UK with their nationwide tour, we asked Jimmy May to give us a quick rundown of their career so far.

“We don’t intend to bullshit you at all. We intend to use hip hop for what it was rightfully meant for. As a weapon, a tool that gets us where the fuck we supposed to be. That being said, I salute to the RBG flag (Revolutionary But Gangsta), my brothers, my comrades and my ancestors behind me – that we will never ever, ever, ever, ever, ev-er – EVER bring you no… Fake, Fake, Records, Records…”

(A promise made before a Dead Prez performance by Sticman – eloquently summing up the intentions behind their music – and their dedication to delivering the facts as they see them to their audiences.)

Dead Prez is a duo comprising of M1 & Sticman, who met in Florida and bonded over a mutual interest in leftist politics. They both joined and founded political parties at a young age, though after strenuous initial periods of trying to evoke liberation, both felt things weren’t moving fast enough and re-united – agreeing to work on music together instead, as it appeared a more immediate way to make an impact. Their original group name was “The Masses Want War” – however, after M1 read an article in a paper about president Bill Clinton, his disbelief in the system led to the name Dead Prez.

They were signed to Loud Records by Brand Nubian’s Lord Jamar in 1995 from the strength of a freestyle backstage at a show – and five years later, released their debut album “Let’s get Free” which contained their biggest commercial single success to date, “Hip-Hop.”

They still weren’t entirely comfortable with their path though.

“They had us doing crossover shows – Warp Tours, Lollapalooza and shows we didn’t really want to do. They told us our music was too intelligent for the hood – we had to dumb shit down. People we knew was desperate to get a record deal – we were desperate to get rid of ours! We wanted to make a revolutionary record! We wanted to make Bob Marley, Peter Tosh music!”

Dead Prez eventually embraced their independent status forming a company called Boss Up INC to release records and other forms of media. They’ve spent years touring the world as activists and leftist political speakers – and recorded a further three mixtapes, two studio albums, three collaboration albums and a solo album apiece. Despite their lack of commercial success, the duo have a different outlook:

“They say Bentleys and Rolex’s are mainsteam, but 90 per cent of people can’t afford ‘em. That’s not music people can relate to. I’d say we’re more mainstream – we rap about what people are going through, music about life. We didn’t come here to be defined, we came to give some definition.”
Despite their very impressive back catalogue, hip hop is discussed by M1 as a form of self-expression – a way to communicate what they’re feeling to the outside world.

“It works for us cos it’s an immediate expression of what we feeling inside. All that pain and suffering you keep bottled up – that’s your fire.”

And on their popular debut, that fire blazes on songs such as “They Schools” which provides a slug to the gut of American education and its corruption, they raise a middle finger to the socially repressing bureaucracies in “Police State” and provide a total rejection of their “American” status in “I’m a African” (I wasn’t born in Ghana but Africa my momma, And I did not end up here from bad karma).

Dead Prez’s impact on their fans is profound, never afraid to speak their minds on issues most would rather avoid. A dynamic, politically driven duo that continue to inspire daily around the world – and with new music continually appearing, it doesn’t look like they’ll be going anywhere any time soon.

DEAD PREZ TOUR DATES

23rd October – Kazimier, Liverpool
24th October – Wardrobe Leeds,
http://www.seetickets.com/event/dead-prez/the-wardrobe/799527

25th October – Concorde, Brighton
26th October – 02 Birmingham – UK Bboy Championships bboychampionships.com/tickets
3rd November – Norwich Arts Center