Formed in 1996, Dead Prez is still goin’ strong and reppin’ hard for Hip-Hop, its culture and the people. Known for their hardcore style and passion-infused lyrics, stic.man and M1 are continuing their Revolutionary But Gansta” movement through their music. The firey duo is looking forward to droppin’ new tunes soon and aren’t letting up on their quest to fight social injustice in this world as they fight on to empower the community. They gave us their rundown on hip-hop, its state and their current place within the current culture.
AllHipHop.com: What have you guys been working on?
stic.man: Some amazing things. We’ve been working heavily with our RBG Fit Club movement, which is a campaign to promote health and wellness through hip-hop, and I dropped an album called The Workout. It’s been received really well. I just finished a marathon last Sunday, too. Right now, I’m producing a sound score for a PBS documentary focused on the health effects of soul food so I’m producing, touring everywhere, in addition to putting out new music.
M1: We did this A3C project that we contributed a song to called “Scene of the Crime/Globalization” produced by stic.man. We’re about to do a show for them in Atlanta, too, this weekend. You’re definitely going to see more Turn Off the Radio mixtapes. I just finished working with an Italian producer who is a part of a revolutionary group called Frontal Assault and the name of the record is called All Power to the People. We will put out a new Dead Prez album in the next year. That’s pretty much it.
AllHipHop.com: So what can fans expect from the new album when it drops?
stic.man: Right now, we’re just living and just experiencing life so that we can be inspired to create a proper album. We have been working with Stephen Marley in terms of production, and we each have our hands full; me with production on different projects and M1 doing public speaking and being involved with various community projects. So our creative process is just to live and then create from that.
AllHipHop.com: Do you guys know when the album will be released?
stic.man: You can’t put a date on creativity. And since we have our own company Boss Up, Inc., we don’t really have to throw an album together and put it out. We’re about keeping the integrity of the music intact. My album that was just released is being considered for a Grammy nomination for “Best Rap Album,” which would be the first time we got that close to that side of the game. However, it’s not official yet.
AllHipHop.com: How have you seen the music industry, especially Hip-Hop evolve over the years?
stic.man: There are qualitative changes. Everything being digital is one of the bigger things. Independent artists have more access to music production tools. There’s also no more need for middlemen like labels, managers and the like. People can just connect directly with the artist if they want. But the mainstream industry still dictates what’s popular—the substance, the lyrics, the beats,
AllHipHop.com: So how would you describe the current state of Hip-Hip then?
M1: That question would depend on what your interpretation of what Hip-Hop is? In hip-hop today, the state of it is pretty much ever growing pods in a plantation of brainwashing and brainwash material. It’s almost scientific and prophetic if you watch the movies. You can almost compare it to The Matrix because of Hip-Hop’s symbiotic relationship with the programming technique of the radio. That’s why we have the same thing we had 10 years ago with only a certain sector of artists being embraced by music programmers and radio stations. That’s one state of where Hip-Hop is today. Then the dual approach is one that is waiting on the flip and by that I mean that everything comes through a critical mass and then comes the flip. This understanding is about how everything that’s currently happening in the music world has a converse affect and that it’s inevitable that the opposite to the mainstream will come to light. We are the ball in a can of spray paint that mixes it all up.
stic.man: Hip-Hop has always been trend-based, where the art itself influences the artist. When we are listening to certain artists that’s what we wanted to sound like. Everything has changed from the music and even the style of dress. People are not satisfied with the content that’s being promoted through the music. Everybody is talking about how they can get a woman, how they have money, and those things are not always relatable to the average person. People who grew up on hip-hop and other soul music legends realize that music can be popular, but it also has to be so much more.
AllHipHop.com: How does the music differ from when you started in the ’90s?
stic.man: When we dropped Let’s Get Free Puffy was out. Wu-Tang, Mob Deep…they were getting money, but they were coming from a street perspective. Wu-Tang talked about different things, and then Puffy was talking about coming up in the world to the level of the bourgeoisie but keeping it hood while you do it. When we came out, our perspective was from the street; it was about capitalism and about surviving, but we were talking about revolution. Fast-forward to now and it’s still the same kind of content on the radio—getting money and being independent. In our music, we’re still talking about revolutionizing ourselves through health, wellness and community. We haven’t changed and the industry hasn’t changed. In all our albums, we’ve put the same kind of content, but still with us exploring the varying aspects of it. How can we revolutionize and empower ourselves in different ways? That’s how our music grows…as we grow as human beings.
AllHipHop.com: Your music has often been considered as political or conscious hip-hop, but do you guys define it this way? Why or why not?
stic.man: We’ve never really accepted that title. We do music that speaks to us from our experiences. We try to keep it 100% authentic. But there are times in our lives where we will focus on our political environment or are economics or the thing that affects us culturally. We reserve the right to let the music speak for itself as opposed to being confined in a genre or a box. One of the reasons we came up with “revolutionary but gangsta” is that most people feel that you can’t be both, but in life there’s yin and yang. We don’t want to settle, which embodies the revolutionary aspect, but there are times that you have to be gangsta.
AllHipHop.com: Has your passion for the music changed?
stic.man: When I put together The Workout, I hadn’t been that passionate about music in many years. I found where I shine at as a producer and MC. My passion is up right now. I haven’t smoked any weed or drank any alcohol in over three years. I just feel great right now. We’re going to break a lot of barriers of what people thought our career was going to be. We’re in the process of putting together a talk show, which will allow us to expose and explore more things in our community and we’ll feature music as well.
AllHipHop.com: What do you guys predict for your musical future? What are you trying to achieve?
M1: Dead Prez hasn’t seen the pinnacle of its journey; we’re still growing. We see ourselves as a part of a revolutionary environment in the music business. In the next 10 years, I think you’ll see more creativity and more pimpin’ the system, using the environment around us to be useful for the work that we’re wanting to do. We’ll also be touring more; we’ve spread to an international market. Expect more music and more songs.
AllHipHop.com: What type of legacy do you want to leave behind?
stic.man: Legacy really is the people you touch. We can make it sound good, but it’s all about the people you touch with you music, and they will say what your legacy is. When they say they heard a song of ours and it changed them in a positive way, that’s our legacy. We want to be a positive impact on our people and the people of the world. Self-confidence and self-determination for all.
M1: I just want them to say that we were there and that we did the best we could with what we had. We believed in what we were doing.
AllHipHop.com: Any last words?
M1: If you’re an artist, and you see what’s going on and you want to be a part of the entertainment business, there is something you can do. You can be a part of the people’s media; the media of the people because the bourgeois media will only conduct the continuation of the blind charade that it’s been carrying on forever. What’s happening in New York City (Occupy NYC), in Houston (Occupy Houston), in Los Angeles (Occupy LA)…these things are important. Reach out to organizations that are involved and be sure to make your voice heard. America is occupying our spaces, and we have to make sure they know what we feel.
Dead Prez will be headlining the AllHipHop Breeding Ground Showcase at A3C Oct. 8th, 2011