Artist: M-1Title: ConfidentialRating: 3 StarsReviewed by: Starrene Rhett
Instead of emulating Scarface and Al Capone, dead prez (DP) channeled Malcolm X and Marcus Garvey on their debut Lets Get Free (2000). They garnered a strong fan base as a result of their audacious Black Nationalist message and hard body production-i.e. Hip-Hop, the classic DP joint featured on Chapelles show, which people are still rocking to six years later. Following up their debut were a few mixtapes and their delayed second LP, Revolutionary But Gangsta. Now solo, for the moment, M-1, half of the controversial raptivist duo has dropped his debut, Confidential [Sotti/Koch].
One thing 'bout music when it hit you feel no pain, said M-1 (Hip-Hop). Whats painfully obvious about Confidential is that he is trying to reach a broader audience by removing some of the gritty edge signature to the typical DP sound. Dont fret DP enthusiasts, its still there and it still holds true to the usual RBG modus operandi. The album is wrought with politics, Black Nationalism and an overall progressive message of power to the people. However, its clear that its also diversified.
Til We Get There is the first single off the album featuring Stori James and KNaan. The laid back beat and Stori James crooning I am by your side til we get there on the hook gives it an R&B-radio-friendly sound without being corny and its all about uplifting the people. I took a page from the book of Martin Luther and decided that its better to hug you than to shoot you/Im sorry homie if its not what youre used to but the way that we livin these black lives is beautiful.
Another stand out track is Love You Cant Borrow with Q-Tip and Cassandra Wilson. Straying away from politics and onto love for a couple of minutes, this one is for the ladies; This aint a mind game shorty this is mind sex Im here to serve and protect cuz you deserve some respect/ Im just a soldier for your love to the death. Moving away from sweet and gangsta, leaning to the left are Comrades Call with Styles P and Bazaar Royale which is about busting a cap for the homies, revolutionary style, and 5 Elements, a number about economic empowerment, discipline, and inner and outer strength. Lastly, there is Early, graced by Stic.man, M-1s partner in rhyme. Produced by Fabrizio Sotti this one will definitely break some necks.
Despite the aforementioned tracks, which are dope, the overall production is a bit lackluster. Cheesy tracks like The Beat, Dont Put Down Your Flag and Gunslinger, which sounds like a plantation work song, could have either been revamped or left off the album all together. Although M-1 and Stic.man complement each other well, M-1 has proven capable of standing on solid ground alone, and Confidential is a nice attempt at going solo and appealing to a wider audience.