With firebrand flows on topics ranging from reparations to revolution, in a way, the performance persona of dead prez is similar to that of President Bushs view of morality in the world. Everything is black and white. Up close and personal, however, M-1 and Stic.man exhibit an eye for nuance.
But dont mistake the duo for John Kerry supporters. While the wealthy New Englander campaigns atop Capital Hill, the dps stay grounded in the streets of Brooklyn. With a their latest set RBG: revolutionary but gangsta in stores, AllHipHop sat down with dead prez as they presented their perspectivesin shades of red, black, and green.
AllHipHop.com: Last time we talked to you, which was in regards to your legal case, you mentioned you were working on your label, Boss Up (B.U.). Whats going on with that now?
Stic.man: Lets not get it twisted, its not a record company. Boss Up is a company that develops business in all different directions.
AllHipHop.com: Is the company a direct result of your waiting and your negotiations with Columbia Records?
Stic.man: Um, well, you just asked a lot of questions right there. We believe in having yourself be as independent as you can. So we just strive to do that in general. And as far as Sony, definitely after they got drunk and dropped us off the label, in order to get us back, its certain things we stuck em for.
M-1: We are in constant development of who dead prez is, you know what Im saying? So Boss Up is a reflection of that and a result of that. Were gonna produce many things, hopefully. Everything from DVDs to books; I already did a book. To plays, theatres, films
Stic.man: Thongs! [laughs]
M-1: Events, functions. Yeah, lingerie. All that. Its real.
AllHipHop.com: What do you think about the NYPD hip-hop task force now that its out in the open?
Stic.man: Ill say this about it. I think we gotta start moving. If its a hip-hop task force, we need to have protocols on how we move for our own safety and security.
M-1: I think we need a hip-hop self-defense task force. We need a counter task force for that. Its just not enough to know what they doing, we gotta be able to be counter active with it. Because they try to make it seem like [mocking in a feminine voice]Its always innocent, because, you know, we dont want another 2Pac and Biggie. Well thats a goddamn lie. And dont throw that in my face and try to make it seem like some innocent bystander s**t. Hell nah.
AllHipHop.com: What are your thoughts on the protests in Brooklyn about bringing the Nets and the new arena into the area? Supposedly, it would displace a lot of people and then replace the homes with expensive housing, and small businesses would have to move, too.
M-1: Im right there. I have a store right there where they want to put it at. I really need to know the demographics of that argument. Because right there in downtown Brooklyn, gentrification has been done. It used to be Fort Greene, now its called Clinton Hills, according to the white folks. And they probably got some other fancy name, too. Little France, or something, you know what Im saying. Basically what we need to do is have community decide what commerce comes to the hood. Im not saying niggas is mad at the stadium, but it aint gonna come to the hood. They gonna drive the crackers from Manhattan into that stadium and back out.
AllHipHop.com: For me, its fairly new to see you two in the whole Wendy Williams/ rumor mill. How do you feel when you hear dead prez is signing to the Roc? Or dead prez is signing to Bad Boy? Or Wendy Williams talking about you and Erykah Badu?
M-1: People will talk. The media is a muthaf*cka.
Stic.man: B*tches like to run they f***in mouth! [everybody laughs]
AllHipHop.com: But with the message you put forward, whats it like being attached to Jay-Z or Puff? People think of bling when they think of them, but not when they think of you.
Stic.man: I dont care. I dont give a f*ck about that. I dont separate myself from nobody off image. And I dont unite with nobody just off a contract, you know what Im saying? It’s way deeper than that. But I think it’s important for the game that people like Jay-Z and dp’s can work together (listen to their collaboration "Hell Yeah (Remix)." Way more than if we beefin. And I know its a lot of sh*t I can learn from Jay-Z: how he on top of his business, his skill as an artist, his humility even with his success. You might cant tell that from his lyrics, but as a man, hes a pretty humble dude. Thats an O.G. in certain ways. And Puffy, too. They O.G.s in this rap s**t, and I want to become an O.G.
M-1: [Its not just] how we get affected by them, cause they get affected by us, [too].
AllHipHop.com: What if you heard a fan say They doing a song with Jay, thats not what they about? Or if they said, They rep Brooklyn and Jays moving the Nets to Brooklyn and its going to make a lot of people move?
Stic.man: Ill be like, How the hell you gonna tell me what dps is? F**k outta here. [laughs] We gonna do this, how we gonna do this. And a lot of people be Internet head muthaf*ckas just making up s**t. It aint from knowing us.
AllHipHop.com: You mentioned the Internet, and I wanted to ask you about Internet protests. Activism is being active, so isnt sitting behind your computer being passive?
M-1: I gotta disagree with you. The reason why I say that is because it depends what its for and it depends on the resulting action. Truthfully, what it really boils down to is [lowers voice] when a nigga change they mind, then they body will follow. What you do to get somebody to change they mind may be different from what Fred Hampton did. Whos to say that the Internet cant be an effective way of changing somebodys mind? Now if you saying it aint never produce no action, I agree with you.
AllHipHop.com: I agree with your points, but how effective is the Internet when people dont even see the faces of a movement?
Stic.man: Look at how effective it is when you tie a rag around your face and handle your business. Dont nobody know who did it. The Black Liberation Army soldiers, a lot of people dont know who did it. But the police felt it. Dont nobody know who got Assata (Shakur) out of prison, but she in Cuba chillin, beautiful as hell.
M-1: But I feel what you saying, because it comes from a Liberal place in the world that allows armchair revolutionaries. But I really want to open you up to the type ofbecause Im not fucking with that [the Internet] no wayrevolutionaries that we need, (because) they gonna have to utilize whatever they got.
AllHipHop.com: M1, you mentioned Fred Hampton and I know a couple of years back you posed as him for a VIBE photo shoot. But how do you feel when you see Naomi Campbell dressed up as Angela Davis in a Rocawear ad? And you see a Black Power image used for commerce?
Stic.man: I wanna say, its different ways you can look at sh*t. Sometimes I be in the middle. Because the obvious thing to say is, Rocafella aint bout nothing positive, they dont got the right to use that. But on the other hand, you could say, Rocawear, they dont necessarily promote certain things and they taking the opportunity to do that. I respect both of those perspectives. I aint saying Rocawear did that to affect our community, but it can have that affect.
M-1: I think its a way to hold people to task. Its almost like the red, black and green wristbands, you know what Im saying? Like, those things are for sale. They cost money. And people are buying them. And somebodys getting paid. My point being, it allows people a way for me to engage you in the streets and say, Do you know what the f*ck thats about?
Stic.man: And you build off that.
AllHipHop.com: Do you think theres a certain poetic justice now that the Feds are going after people like Martha Stewart and the Enron executives? Or is that temporary?
M-1: They are in full throttle crisis. And they cant help it. The shit is leaking out the edges. They dont want us to see this. S**t is just crazy. The crevices are becoming more divided for the ruling classes. Cause she is the owner; shes one of the owners of this s**t, invested in this corporation called America. Martha Stewart is one of the pillars of that community. Her being able to pull her stocks out almost was like a symbolic move of her divestment from a certain kind of the economy. Like, Im playing this side instead of that side. And muthaf*ckas was mad at that. They corporate crooks, but its just a symbol of a system thats failing. A weak system. Thats all it is. And not no poetic justice nothing. Instead of looking at it as poetry, look at it as politics. Martha Stewart, all thats political. R. Kelly is political. Michael Jackson, goddamn political. Thats real. And I think thats the reality of the whole shit. A sign of the times.