dead prez: Gangstaz With A Cause
Spanning back to ‘96, dead prez has been a group that seemed to be outside of the norm. In a time where every rapper was advocating drug dealing, violence, etc., dead prez took the opposite route and tried to uplift Black America in touching political subjects and demanding the need for a revolution and the destruction of the corrupted structure that is the United States.
They can be placed in between the likes of Public Enemy and N.W.A. As time fast forwards to 2009, stic.man and M-1 have the same agenda in pursuit of a needed change in the system and they partner up with DJ Green Lantern to deliver the treat that is their third installment of the Turn Off The Radio"series with Pulse of the People. In this, they speak on the support of the Internet enabling them to provide information to the masses and the fact that although they are revolutionaries, at the end of the day they are as just normal Brothers striving for something.
HipHopWired: With Turn Off The Radio, as far as this third installment of the series, where have you guys grown with this?
stic.man: This is all new for us because it is all produced by DJ Green Lantern. In that regard, it's a brand new expression between our marriage of flows and his vibrations of the drums and sounds. I'm excited for that because we usually don't do a whole project with production outside of ourselves so it gave us more freedom to focus on our lyrics. We were also able to get it done in a short amount of time because I take a lot longer when I produce. I think Green had his ear to the street with his sound and I think that he's been effective with Nas, Immortal Technique, etc. It's just a chance for us to have a different vibration for people to vibe and relate to in case people are getting tired of my sound. (Laughs)
HipHopWired: What's up with the official new project?
M1: Information Age is on the way and it's definitely going to be the banger. It was really good to get a slight break and work on the Green project because the focus is, conceptually, in another direction. It's a more traditional dead prez sound with the cyber, soul-tronic force and we even work with outside producers as well. It's intended to let us think about how we use technology to get out of the matrix.
stic.man: Information Age is the title and we are touching on the age that you come into the information, or the knowledge itself. This is the new time period and what they're talking about with the 2012, the Mayan prophecies and a time when you start questioning religion, the medical industry, dieting and eating meat and everything that we were lied to about with things like Santa Clause and the Easter Bunny. It's all of that and you start to look for the truth. That is what this album is designed to inspire with the sounds, the concepts and the content of the lyrics.
HipHopWired: In the new age and time, artists don't really depend on the labels in order to get their music out. How come dead prez hasn't capitalized on that medium since the radio and the labels don't seem to give you much support, but the Internet has given you that free lane to release those albums each year that people crave?
stic.man: I don't like the word capitalize. We spell the words dead prez in lower case letters and capitalism is the enemy of mankind, but in the spirit of what you're asking, we have definitely been on our grind and on our hustle to take advantage of that outlet. I have an album out called Manhood that's on iTunes and the whole dead prez catalogue is available via the Internet. We have the website deadprez.com and have a merchandise website called bossupbu.com where we have books that I've written, along with people that we're affiliated with, on things like health and politics. We have T-shirts and hood news. We have “Ammo Magazine” which is an online monthly magazine.
We're on top of the Internet and still growing and developing but we definitely recognize that the gorilla platform outside the radio and the TV that people can get directly to the source, which is what they are looking for.
HipHopWired: People seem to always want to put you guys in a box and I've been in situations around you before and ya'll are regular dudes. In particular with stic, you released a song with Noble, “My S.W.A.G. Is Up,” and it was a hot song, but it was a dance song. It's almost as if people feel like since you're part of the movement you can't still have a good time and party sometimes. How do you feel about that?
stic.man: We didn't come here to maintain the status quo and we didn't come here to reinforce the box. We came here to bust the box open. When you say things about your political situation and when you have a certain consciousness in your art, certain people will try and put you in their category and in their box. If you're a politician, you try to appease everybody and you try to make everybody say, “Oh, that's my man or the culture child for what I believe in.” We didn't come here to do that. We didn't come to be a fake gimmick or act like something that we're not. We came to give you the full expression and we definitely will give you our political views and we are sincere to it. I would be fake if I were to act like I didn't feel good about myself and I didn't want to have success, celebrate and care about how I present myself at times which is all of the regular Shyte that everyone else does. That doesn't change because you want to change the system and I believe that you are fake if you choose to act like that.
All we are doing is expressing our real self in different songs and hopefully people will realize that this is how we are instead of trying to judge and hold us to how they believe we should be. Maybe I'm not as political as you might have thought I was, but that won't stop me from fighting for the cause. We have the gangster reality that we live in and we believe in certain gangster principles. We want revolutionary change and that is why we talk and work towards those changes. We love women and family. We love grinding and working for ourselves and the idea of entrepreneurship.
Some people think that you can't be a gorilla or a revolutionary if you are trying to be a business owner because they feel like that's a contradiction, but I know that life is a contradiction. It's a contradiction when your as*s is hungry and ain't got any money and all you can do is protest to the people that print the money up. That's not my role. I'm going to be getting money along with fighting against the system of capitalism. I'm gonna keep getting money until we destroy the system and if that's a contradiction, don't take it to me, take it to the government. I'm trying to survive out here and I'm not selling crack, but I'm not a fool. That's my position on it and I did a whole album on it with Manhood. It's just the reality that we live in.
We know that capitalism was born from slavery, but does that mean when I open up a health foods store that I'm a capitalist? I live in a capitalist system, but I'm trying to make a profit off of making people healthier. Now I know that's not freedom, that's a survival program like Huey P. Newton said. It's not freedom because I have a business, but it's a means of sustaining yourself and funding your movement, your cause and family as we try to overthrow the system all together. I don't know if it will work or not, but I'm not going to be hungry trying to figure it out.
M1: Revolution in itself is a business. I learned that from the movement itself. Our economic development programs doesn't have the same agenda as the United States, but we do have an economics development program which involves massive resources through the land, people and technology that we will have to use in order to maintain and continue doing what we are talking about doing. People have a common misjudgment of what it's going to take to run this mu*haf*c%a.
When I talk to all of the OG's, what's so good about them and what I look forward to when building with the Pete O'Neals, the Mutula Shakurs, the Chairman Omalis, and the Mukasa Ricks. When I'm building with them, these are my comrades, they're my elders, these are Real G's.
They were all getting down. There wasn't an idea of a conscious dude versus a non-conscious dude. When you meet them and see how they were and kick it with them and what they are able to laugh at in life and how human they are able to be with their family with the mistakes that they have made in the past, you begin to see regular people who started to give a Fawk about what happens in the lives of our people.
These are regular dudes that weren't made out of extraordinary steel or anything like that, but they were able to do was discipline themselves whether it be politically, physically or any other way strategically to help our people. We want to be able to see the human side of it all. …. Just like Che Guevara sitting in the Sierra Madre smoking a cigar. He loved to smoke cigars, of all the things to do while in the jungle, and he's a doctor. We have to be seen as human beings and that has been my stride that I have contributed to dead prez.
HipHopWired: On your website I noticed that ya'll were talking about Obama's stimulus plan and they're giving 3.2 billion to the prison industrial complex. Can you go in a little more on that?
stic.man: I'm just urging people to do the research so that they can be familiar with what their government is doing under the administration, not just listening to the rhetoric of rappers or politicians, but just going to get the facts for your own knowledge. A lot of people seem to think that the stimulus package is somehow going to be a check that will help people, in some way, financially or stimulate the economy. You are, however, spending your money and giving it back to businesses that are not owned in our own community.
The reality is that a lot of the billions of dollars that could be used for our education, healthcare, etc. are going towards military spending and still going towards the prison industrial complex under this administration.
We can't get so happy, in the historical nature, about having a Black man in office to the fact that we forget to look at politics for the way that they are. We have to still be critical because we have Black police that take us to the Black jails and Black judges that still sentence us disproportionately to the white ones. Just because we have a Black politician in the oval office, that doesn't mean that the White House isn't still the white house.
HipHopWired: Speaking about us having a Black President, there are certain things that I have personally seen and it seems as though the police brutality has actually risen. It almost feels like they are trying to prove a point that things aren't going to change just because the President is Black. What is ya'lls take on that?
M1: I think that it is business as usual on the part of America Incorporated when it comes down to Barack Obama as President. You will definitely not see a spike an anything revolutionary, but you will see a spike in the same type of American imperialism that you already see. My theory is that if we thought that things were bad with Bush, then we will have to really hold our heads when it comes to Obama because this is how they will pull things over the average human being that they normally wouldn't do. They will lull us to sleep thinking that we have reached some type of concession with having an African President, but then they will pull some of the most Gregorian, Machiavellian tactics that they can in any other way. It is evident in the Trojan Horse of the stimulus plan that they put out which is supposed to be good for all the people, but in reality much of it has huge drawbacks when it comes to infringing on a person's rights continuously. Along with that, instead of giving us some type of economic stability, it's really just going to set us back a little bit. So the people that came from the school of though that I came from and taught me what I know as a young revolutionary, they call this Shyte here Neo-Colonialism so that's what I call it too.