Okay, learned, avid hip-hop listener: if you have heard anything by dead prez, then you probably already formed an opinion on the New York-based duo. So it doesn't matter that their remix of "Hell Yeah (Pimp the System)," off 2004's RBG: Revolutionary But Gangsta, is utterly mesmerizing, or that their live contribution to the soundtrack of Dave Chappelle's Block Party is an unforgettable stand out; if you don't agree with (or are profoundly insulted by) stic.man and M-1's intensely confrontational, anti-capitalist, anti-racism, anti-imperialist musical agenda, it's just impossible to ever like or truly appreciate this half-activist, half-hip-hop group.
With their ties to Black Panther-influenced groups and proud embrace of the Pan-African colours, dead prez are often accused of hating anyone who's not black or Latino—which actually might not be too far of a stretch, judging by some of their lyrics ("They hit the World Trade, the Pentagon, and almost got the White House/Now everybody walkin' around patriotic/How we going to keep freedom when we ain't got it?/You wanna stop terrorists?/Start with the U.S. imperialists"). But while dead prez are known for their "Power to the black and brown" messages, M-1 assures he merely dislikes the oppressive system that benefits some more than others in modern society. And though there's definitely no shortage these days of artists with political messages—Paris, Immortal Technique and the Coup, to name a few—dead prez manage to bring their unabashedly conscious music to audiences while producing well, good music.
Still hate dead prez for their revolutionist, Afrocentric political outlook? That's all right. They probably hate you, too.
dead prez with Ras Kass, DJ Revolution (of Wake Up Show), K-DAY'S Icy Ice & more at Vault 350, 350 Pine Ave., Long Beach, (888) 80-VAULT; www.vault350.com. Sat., 7 p.m. $28.50-$48.50. 16+ unless accompanied by adult.