on 7 March 2004
It is hard to believe that this was an album that nearly never made it to the shelves. Having finished their second album "RBG", Dead Prez were dropped from their label Columbia. It seemed the album would never get the release it deserved.
RBG begins with the melancholic opening track "Don't Forget Where You Came From" (similar style to Wolves (opening track of Let's Get Free)) beautifully constructed then straight into the hard hitting "Warrior", pumping bass line together with the excellent backing vocals (Eryka Badu). The album continues on a journey prophesying their message whilst also attacking the system around them. "Turn off the Radio" (also in their 1st mixtape) is a direct assault on the chart culture and brainwashing radio stations "Platinum don't mean it gotta be hot, I aint got to love it, even if they play it allot". "Unbroken" is another masterful, emotionally charged song, with genius lyrics about the difficulty trying to survive in America, growing up in the ghetto. "The struggle must continue on, because that's what made me a man"
Perhaps the best track on the album – for me - however is "For the Hood" - amazing beat, a simple song but yet so effective and powerful pointing at the Police Force as the real enemy. This album is inspiring in every way, the best hip hop album of the year. This is real hip hop.
Spread the word.
on 31 August 2004
When I first saw the title of Dead Prez's follow up album I have to admit I felt a pang of fear. 'Gangsta' in the title? Surely they've not put together an album of dreary gangsta rap in order to ensure the record sells enough copies to keep the fat cats at Columbia records basking in their double whipped cream have they?!!...
...Thankfully, my fears were put to rest the minute the CD started playing. The album opens with Don't forget where you came from, a nice track, however things really kick into gear though with 'walk like a warrior', with it's lushious (it's the only word to describe it) backing vocals - it's almost haunting and M1, Stic and Krayzie bone all deliver magnificent verses. The album continues to build on this strength and M1 & Stic's deliveries are so precise, so well constructed, so well executed and so perfectly pitched that you just can't help buying what they're selling. A snippet of a verse from "Turn off the radio" says it all actually - "what's on the radio? propaganda, mind control, and turning it on is like putting on a blindfold"... I mean, with lyrics like that, what more do I need to say?!
So in conclusion, this is REAL hip hop music - the way it should be made and I can't recommend the album enough. Although admittedly it's not as good as their debut (Let's Get Free), it is better than 95% of everything else out there - forget your 50 cent's, J-Kwons, Jay-Z's, Fabulous and Ja-Rule, this is (as Common would say) "real hip hop music, from the soul y'all"... So go on, BUY it, DON'T DOWNLOAD it, pay these REAL artists their dues.
on 9 November 2008
The one merit of this work is that it somehow manages to be both a musical failure and morally reprehensible. Its sound is deficient, but its message is disgraceful. I wonder, does their greed continue suppress their guilt?
On their second official studio album, it is immediately clear that 'dead prez' have regressed from impersonating revolutionaries to pretending to be gangsters. (Sorry, gangstas.) Essentially they've abandoned a cause for a coin. This is a monograph on how to sell your soul, and then unsuccessfully hide your shame.
They have retained the pretence of railing against the illusory System; The White Establishment, to them the source of all suffering and disparity in the world. This being the very structure they've rearranged their appearance in order to be absorbed by. "Pimp the System" they repeatedly cry as they prostitute themselves in pursuit of its acceptance. They speak too of freedom, and I wonder if they have heard the word before, in the country which worships it, seeing as they display their shackles as badges of honour.
'Let's get free' was a great album. Yes, the belief system was just as laughable and the racism as repellent, but it was not without power and poignancy. They were young, and if not authentically gifted, at least angry (all of which is secondary in their minds to being black): it was a welcome antidote to the insipience of misogyny and braggadocio which strangled an alleged culture. Sure, it was based on a false premise, but it was alive and errantly enraged.
This pales (worst of things!) in comparison. The only listenable songs, are the intro and outro, which aren't really songs at all, 'Radio Freq' which is off an earlier mix-tape and was included presumably to define their duplicity, and 'Hell Yeah', which I'll now discuss as it sums up their self-proclaimed progression perfectly; Lyrics include:
"we gon' order take out, when we see the driver
we gon' stick the 25 up in his face, let's ride
steppin' outside like warriors into the notorious southside
one weapon to the four of us, hidin' in the corridor
til' we see the dominoes car headlights
white boy in the wrong place at the right time
soon as the car door open up he mine
we roll up quick and put the pistol to his nose...'
(Best stop there...)
We mustn't laugh. Yes, to them robbing an innocent and defenceless Domino's Pizza Delivery Boy constitutes revolutionary-cum-gangsta behaviour. For the noble oppressed are recognised not by their struggle but by the pigment of their skin, and the devils are the same. It's comical yet criminal. Believe it or not, this same song, or rather its remix, is the best on the album. It features Jay-Z, which alone constitutes a flagrant volte-face for the duo. You won't need me to tell you that as a rapper he's unspeakably superior to either of these charlatans. He is effectively a man boasting about a previous career, drug dealing, which affects countless individual tragedies, and creates a greater collective tragedy, and yet he, in his humorous honestly, his witty disregard, is far more ethical than the frauds he finds beside him. You wonder if dead prez envy his talent, but the sorry truth is that they envy his having dealt drugs.
These are belligerent bigots, broadcasting the scarcity of their spirit, the dearth of their thought, hopeless hypocrites who strive to be bacilli. They never will, though, and it is testament to the public that they are denied the oxygen to propagate their deceit. They don't represent a significant splinter within the Black community; in fact they don't even represent themselves anymore! They are tedious, masquerading mavericks, with guns clicking like 50 Cent, boasting about committing credit card fraud in department stores. It's all so tremendouly tragic...
Of course even their moniker has expired, considering recent events. Once, decades ago, such nonsense, if not justifiable was at least comprehensible, but now it's simply anachronistic as well as anathematic.
Nas, on a proper album, said; "I'm out for Dead Presidents to represent me", signifying a present disenfranchisement, and an unhidden hope for future franchise. A misappropriation of this has been integrated as the central tenant of dead prez's philosophy (though it quite undeserves the term...). A fantasised duality, a two-sided deity, The Man and The Money; the first the physical embodiment of the entire planet's ills--the heresiarch of the enslaved world, the latter both the Ahriman the presidents bow before, and the force they are driven by and towards.
How ironic then, that the dollar bill, Baal, the material representation of the nefarious in their world-view, is all that dead prez despise and all that they desire. They in turn, have become not only what they themselves despise, but are thereby despicable to all audiences.
They live by one commandment sent from their vacant sky; to blame the system, and her suidae tentacles; the white man, for each imaginable trouble. They foster blanket hatred and resentment, self-defeat and unwitting destruction, and advocate only attrition and apartheid.
We, regardless of our colour or background should use this as a monument to egalitarianism, as we shall all unite in shunning these charlatans and others like them, who incompetently intellectualise disgrace and foment conflict and loathing, devastating impressionable minds along the way. They should be held accountable, but we should reserve pity, as these men were only ever pantomime radicals, and all they'll ever be are dilettante dramatists, and, anyhow, what have they left?
Only heads in hands and conspiracy theories.