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 Let’s 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 Chapelle’s 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”). What’s 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. Don’t fret DP enthusiasts, it’s 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, it’s clear that it’s also diversified.

“Til We Get There” is the first single off the album featuring Stori James and K’Naan. 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 it’s all about uplifting the people. “I took a page from the book of Martin Luther and decided that it’s better to hug you than to shoot you/I’m sorry homie if it’s not what you’re used to but the way that we livin’ these black lives is beautiful.”

Another stand out track is “Love You Can’t 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 ain’t a mind game shorty this is mind sex…I’m here to serve and protect cuz you deserve some respect/ I’m just a soldier for your love to the death.” Moving away from sweet and gangsta, leaning to the left are “Comrade’s 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, M-1’s 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,” “Don’t 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 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.