Dead Prez Explain Why Jimi Hendrix is Must See TV
It’s been nearly a decade since Dead Prez first launched their incendiary brand of political hiphop to the masses with their controversial debut 2000 debut Let’s Get Free. Back then the outspoken duo of Stic. man and M-1 raged against the machine of racism, economic injustice throughout minority communities worldwide, police brutality, and the self-destruction of a generation disillusioned by the politics as usual.
Indeed, with the release of their third studio album ‘Pulse of the People,’ not much has changed. The brazen set, produced entirely by DJ Green Lantern (Ludacris, Nas, and Eminem), finds Dead Prez still fighting the good fight alongside Bun B, Styles P and the iconic Chuck D of Public Enemy. The BoomBox sat down with Stic. man and M-1 to get the real.
The Boombox: How gratifying has it been that a decade into your career you are still able to release a critically-acclaimed album like ‘Pulse of the People’?
Stic.man: It’s been great. And we are still growing. We have been traveling going to places like Sweden, Bermuda back to Sweden and all over. So it hasn’t stopped since we dropped ‘Let’s Get Free.’ It’s been a blessing. We did the album in three days with Green Lantern, so you never know what it’s going to do. We have BET and MTV, for the first time in a long time, so I definitely didn’t see that coming. I think the ancestors are opening the way with this project. I have to give thanks.
The BoomBox: You mentioned recording ‘Pulse of the People’ in three days, which is unusual for you guys. What was it about Green Lantern’s work that made you look at him as someone who could handle this project?
M-1: I think it was really important for us to experiment with creativity. There is a sound that dead prez has. But being able to work with DJ Green Lantern, who has a certain type of versatility, he has his own zone. He is a street producer who makes everything from hood music to pop. That gave us a lot of leeway and area to expound on our sound. But as crazy as conceptual as dead prez is, we didn’t go into this album with concepts. But working with one producer kind of became the concept.
The BoomBox: One of the first songs to get leaked from the new album was ‘Stimulus Plan.’ What does this song mean to you during a time when we have our first African-American President Barack Obama during one of the most challenging economies we have experienced in some time?
Stic.man: There’s a range on this album. It’s not all about Obama and the economy. It’s about people’s lives. We are telling people to be your own ‘Stimulus Plan.’ The economy right now even for the middle class people is creating tough times. But for poor people this is nothing new. The recession that everyone is talking about is what gave songs like Grandmaster Flash & The Furious Five‘s ‘The Message’ its context in the ’80s. If you listen to that song, if that ain’t the recession I don’t know what is. For our people, the recession was when we got held back in the slavery process in terms of our development. The red man’s land was taken away. And the brown man got kicked off his land and called an illegal alien. So this is what held the masses of people back.
Anything that helps us move forward and make it day-to-day I think I would rather see us have it than not. A real ‘Stimulus Plan’ is your own self-development through your education, your organization and mobilization. It’s not a government check. It’s understanding yourself to the point where you say, “Yeah, I’m supposed to be an entrepreneur. I’m supposed to provide services and fill a voice in our community for things that we need.” And through that, you as an individual and the community will be able to live and have integrity within that exchange.
The BoomBox: Do you find inspiration from listening to some of your older material?
I hardly listen to my own stuff, even the new music. Most time I ever listen to it is when I’m onstage rapping it. I love Dead Prez’ s music. It’s just that I’m inspired by so many kinds of people. I just watch old school music and concert videos from back in the day. I was just watching the live performance of Jimi Hendrix’s ‘Foxy Lady.’
Boombox: You mean the one from the Monterey Pop Music Festival?
M-1: Yes! He was wearing yellow and pink with the ruffles on the shirt. It was incredible, inspirational…he was reaching new heights. I just saw him go through so many chambers in one performance. It just really blew me away. Anyone who has never seen him perform, just check out that live performance. Me and stic always say we have thousands of inspirations. So any given day it could be a different one. But today, y’all check out Jimi’s ‘Foxy Lady.’
Stic.man: I’m listening to straight African drums. I’ve been collecting them off-line; old training tapes, anything with the Orisha chants. I’ve also been listening to the Last Poets’ album ‘Chastisement.’ A lot of people don’t know that’s where about five X Clan songs came from [laughs]. Anything with that drum, that’s what I work out to, that’s what I wake up to, and meditate to.
The BoomBox: M-1 mentioned performing Dead Prez material in a live setting. Talk about the reaction you have been getting from the new songs during your most recent shows.
Stic.man: It’s been great just to break up the monotony and have new colors to paint with. We’ve been doing ‘Summer Time,’ which has been real fun and ‘New York,’ which is a powerful song live. And we have started the show a couple of times with ‘Little Child Running Wild.’ There’s been good energy. Just to see people get into the new music right away has been great. And there’s more stops from Alaska to Finland.
M-1: To add on to that I’m going to say a word that I stole from D.C. describing the energy we’ve been receiving to our new material — I’m psyched! [laughs] What I love is people don’t know the new music. I love to hit people over the head in their medulla oblongata with something that they have never heard before and get a real, honest and sincere reaction. I love how it soaks into the brain.