By Natalya Jones
By County Grind
By Liz Tracy
By Chris Joseph
By Liz Tracy
By Matt Preira
By Jesse Scheckner
By Michael E. Miller
What did M-1 think about the lyrics? "I loved it!" he affirms. "This is common people telling you that we got problems. This is people who got gold chains and ice and Escalades sayin', 'Man, they're tryin' to oppress me. '" This is the audience Dead Prez wants to reach; it feels that black people can be educated and reasoned with, while the white power structure cannot.
"I think white people have to offer up power roles. I don't mean give, but offer them up," he says, adding, "I'm not being racist. I can't be.
"Offer up the power resources that white people have learned through no fault of your individual self but all fault through the oppressive predecessors of white people. Black people don't have the opportunity to be computer-literate or just literate with reading and writing. That goes way back to slavery. Nothing racist about it. Just truth."
It's ironic how the media and some of their fans have categorized Dead Prez as safe, "conscious" rappers. The two rappers adhere to an admirably ascetic lifestyle -- on Let's Get Free,Dead Prez promotes vegetarianism ("Be Healthy") and chooses "a good conversation" over guilt-free trysts ("Mind Sex") -- tempered by a working-class mentality punchier than Common's middle-class amelioratives and Talib Kweli's streetwise bookishness. Their idea of revolution isn't Frantz Fanon-inspired radical chic but a practical program inherited from Fred Hampton Jr. and the New York-based National Democratic Committee's Uhuru Movement. Perhaps that's why Dead Prez has attracted a strong, multicultural yet mostly unseen audience that probably doesn't understand the full extent of what it hopes to achieve. Fans appreciate how the duo tries to discuss sociopolitical issues with anger, forthrightness, and occasional clumsiness. And they don't expect M-1 and Stic to have all the answers.