DEAD PREZ BIOGRAPHY:
dead prez are a critically acclaimed Florida-based political underground hip-hop duo, consisting of alternative rappers stic.man and M-1. They have become known largely for their hard-hitting style and politically active lyrics, focusing on racism, critical pedagogy, activism against governmental hypocrisy, and corporate control over the media, especially hip-hop record labels. dead prez are a pair of rappers inspired by revolutionaries from Malcom X to Public Enemy, and they made their stance clear on their debut album, declaring on the lead song, "I'm a African" and that the group is "somewhere between N.W.A. and Public Enemy".
M-1 was born Mutulu Olugabala, in Florida. Fellow deadprez member and lontime friend stic.man was born Clayton Gavin, 1975, in Shadeville, Florida. He used to relax on the campus of Florida A&M; University (a historically black university) based in Tallahassee, Florida, although he was never enrolled for classes. There he and M-1 met and connected due to their mutual love of music and knowledge. The two comrades' growing sense of Black pride and political theory served as a common bond as they joined various community groups, eventually forming dead prez as a rap group and moving to New York.
"I was soaking up the Black Panther Party as a whole," M-1 remembers. "I learned about their lives and it helped mold me."
"I realized there's a struggle already going on and I have to try to help ride it out," interjects stic.man. M-1's quest for insight led him to join the International Democratic People’s Uhuru Movement (InPDUM) in Chicago for three years while stic.man remained behind in Florida and started getting into trouble. Burned out by the arduous labor of Uhuru, M-1 decided it was time to focus on music and stic.man agreed.
Dead prez transcribed the political education they acquired into lyrical poetry. Brand Nubian's Lord Jamar discovered them in New York and helped them sign a deal with Loud Records. But being the new kids of the block on a powerhouse label like Loud (home to the Wu-Tang Clan and Mobb Deep) wasn't easy. dead prez wasn't always Loud's top priority but that didn't stop them from building a fan base around their over-the-top performances (they've been known to ignite dollar bills and toss apples into the audiences, declaring that they must eat healthily).
Their debut album was released on March, 14, 2000 entitled "Let's Get Free", which featured a minor hit with the song "Hip Hop" from the year before. Let's Get Free was called a "return to politically conscious rap" and "the most politically conscious rap since Public Enemy"; the duo's messages also earned them favorable comparisons with Brand Nubian and X-Clan. The album was critically well-received, and included intense political diatribes featuring prominent black activist Omali Yeshitela, as well as "Animal in Man" - a retelling of George Orwell's Animal Farm. The instrumental version of their song "Hip Hop" was used as Dave Chappelle's entrance music for his show on Comedy Central, and can be heard on every episode.
The album's lyrics, performed in front of sparse beats that many critics derided as a "dull musical backdrop" , are startlingly direct, militant and confrontational. M-1 and stic.man excoriate media, the music industry, politicians and poverty, and rap about Afrocentrism and Black Power. Rolling Stone gave the album four stars and lauded its equation of "classrooms with jail cells, the projects with killing fields and everything from water to television with conduits for brainwashing by the system"
In 2001 they collaborated with The Coup, another politically active hip-hop outfit, to release Get Up. In 2002, dead prez released the independent mix tape Turn off the Radio: The Mixtape Vol. 1. The mixtape was released under the alias of 'DPZ' due to a contractual conflict dead prez had with their former record label, Loud Records. They followed up that mixtape with the release of Turn off the Radio: The Mixtape Vol 2: Get Free or Die Tryin' in 2003. The name of the album "Get Free Or Die Tryin'" comes from 50 Cent's hit album "Get Rich Or Die Tryin'".
In 2004, Columbia Records finally released dead prez's "Revolutionary But Gangsta". The album title, Revolutionary But Gangsta, or RBG, describes a person who, although engaged in frequent and heavy criminal activity (gangsta), remains committed to a greater political cause (revolutionary). RBG represents the colors traditional African colors of the UNIA, red, black, and green, which are featured on the album cover. On RBG, Dead Prez talk about ending poverty and depression, and of 'pimping the system' as a means to this end and to the cause of liberation. On "Hell Yeah," DP declare 'Fuck welfare/ we say reparations.' In 2003, the song, "Hell Yeah" from the album was featured on the soundtrack to the hit movie, '2 Fast 2 Furious'.
M-1 dropped his debut solo album "Confidential" on March 21, 2006 on Koch Records. The album is a DualDisc, with a DVD side featuring a 20 minute documentary on the making of the Confidential and the entire album in stereo sound. Confidential features guest appearances from M-1's dead prez partner Stic.man, aswell as Q-Tip, Cassandra Wilson, Styles P, Ghostface Killah and K'naan. The album features the single "'Til We Get There", which was voted into rotation on New York's Hot 97. The single's music video was shown on BET's 106 & Park as well as a number of other stations.
dead prez were then featured performers on the film Dave Chappelle's Block Party, released in 2006. On July 25, 2006, dead prez and former 2Pac collaborators the Outlawz jointly released an album titled "Can't Sell Dope Forever". Their song "'Til We Get There" was on the EA Sports video game NBA Live 2007.
In June 2006, the cable movie network Starz InBlack began airing an original documentary called dead prez: It's Bigger Than Hip Hop directed by John Threat. The hour-long documentary featured live footage and interviews with dead prez. It also featured interviews from Kamel Bell, owner of Ankh Marketing and son of incarcerated Black Panthers Herman Bell; Fred Hampton Jr., son of Black Panther Chairman Fred Hampton; Bay-area rapper and poet Ise Lyfe, and hip hop activist and radio personality Davey D. Among the topics discussed in the documentary are the inadequacies of the public education system, minority entrepreneurship, and social revolution.
M1 states that "we've never had the opportunity to express ourselves on this level of magnitude. Starz InBlack taking a chance on us lets us know that the work we are doing is not in vain. That our message is penetrating, it's getting through."
On October 03, 2006 Stic.man and Young Noble of the Outlawz, decided to join forces again after Dead Prez and the 2Pac affiliated Outlawz collaborated together for "Can't Sell Dope Forever" album. The relationship between the two groups worked well enough that Dead Prez's Stic.man and the Outlawz's Young Noble decided to do a record together, the result was "Soldier 2 Soldier". The theme of war is present throughout the album, which opens and closes with a "Soldiers Prayer". The album is directed towards the struggles in the U.S., as opposed to those abroad. Although it's generally Dead Prez who are associated with political rhymes, Young Noble shows that he's just as capable as Stic.man at delivering provocative lines, and the MCs sound good together, working very well off one another.
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