Dead Prez: Hip-hop for the age of information

New school. Old School. Revolutionaries. New York duo Dead Prez bring a political flavor to their unique style of hip-hop. Almost 22 years in the making, Dead Prez is the collaborated efforts of hip-hartists stic.man and M-1. Bumping fat beats vaguely reminiscent of old school hip-hop favorites from the 90s, while pontificating on societal injustices, Dead Prez arrive in Bellingham Saturday, July 7.

Taking a winding path into their own, Dead Prez has walked the road less traveled to musical notoriety.Known for their confrontational attitude and socialistic lyrics, Dead Prez pushes agendas such as militant social-justice and pan-Africanism. Which, for the unaware, is an ideology focused on uniting the disparate peoples of Africa under one social and political system. The group also strongly opposes the corporate control of the music industry and has not worked with any major labels to date.

Born in the rural community of Shadeville, Florida in 1974, Clayton Gavin, aka Khnum Muata “STIC” Ibomu, aka stic.man, made his first thrusts at exposing perceived social inequalities when he attempted to perform “Black As I Can Get,” while attending high school. Though not permitted to bust his rhymes, the incident, reportedly, incited the student body to boycott classes.

First meeting Mutulu Olugbala (M-1) in 1990, while attending Florida Agricultural and Mechanical University, the pair was immediately united by their mutual love of music and their congruous political views. After various other social pursuits, the twosome chose to focus on their musical interests around 1996.

Prior to the release of their first full-length album Let’s Get Free in 2000, Dead Prez built popularity with their over-the-top performance style. Some noted activities include burning dollar bills and throwing apples at the crowd, and insisting they (the crowd) eat healthy. They would soon be signed to Loud Records and record their first song, “The Game of Life (Score,)” in 1997. This track was featured in the soundtrack to the film Soul in the Hole. This would be the first of many high profile collaborations with other well-known musical artists and entertainers.

A song from their first album, D.O.P.E. (Drugs Oppress People Everyday, was featured in the movie Slam. An instrumental version of their song “Hip Hop” was used as the entrance music for Dave Chappelle on his Comedy Central television program Chappelle’s Show. It can be heard in every episode. The list of features ranges all the way to the popular video game series SKATE and the 2Fast2Furious soundtrack.

Musically, Dead Prez is a highly produced blend of pleasing rhythms studded with quirky pops of sound, overlaid on rapid verses. The lyrics of Dead Prez drive aggressively behind foot bumping beats of such tracks as “It’s Bigger Than Hip-Hop.” What stands out most clearly is the real and inherent passion of stic.man and M-1. The borderline offensive message of each song is never lost behind the pressing snap of beatlines. The clearly enunciated tone points to an artistic principle that transcends the normal fears of acceptability. Amazingly this never obscures the enjoyable and kinetic qualities in every Dead Prez track.

With their tongues and tones firmly planted in social and artistic idealism Dead Prez take their sound out of the studio and onto the road with their recent tour. The Dead Prez can be found by their band