from dead prez
As one half of hip-hops most political group dead prez, has done everything from releasing critically acclaimed albums, powerful singles, a book on emcee-ing and now his current project, Starz “dead prez: It’s Bigger than Hip-hop”. His latest movie emphasized the importance of social consciousness, along with an unforgettable performances and strong narratives in a must see feature. Make sure to check your local listings on Starz to watch this phenomenal movie and make sure to read below to find out more about
interview by Rob Schwartz

WHO?MAG: How did dead prez form? I met with my partner M-1 about ’93. I was putting in work on the political level trying to organize and we were both into hip-hop. We decided to form a group. We ended up moving to New York and Lord Jamal from Brand Nubian got us our record deal with LOUD records

WHO?MAG: What makes the dead prez sound different from other groups? It’s original just like us. Our sound is a mix from the south, down in Tallahassee, you know, a little bit of country. M-1 was born in Jamaica and lived in Brooklyn, NY as well as North Carolina, so we have a mix from all over. That’s pretty much our sound mixed with whatever we’re feeling.

WHO?MAG: How was your situation at LOUD Records? My situation at LOUD Records was like the plantation. Pretty much like slavery. Basically, we were just a product on that label. We would get challenged for how we wanted to express ourselves. There were a lot of uphill battles as far as that was concerned. It was a great learning experience. We got to meet MOBB DEEP and Wu-Tang Clan and Big Pun. It was our introduction into the industry.

WHO?MAG: How did you feel about your nomination for Source Magazine’s remix of the year with “Hell Yeah”? That was cool. It was great promotion. I was glad to see that people thought it was that dope to be in the running.

WHO?MAG: So how did the “dead prez: It’s Bigger than Hip-hop” come about? Real simple. My homeboy Kamal Jacot-Bell, who happened to be the son of Herman Bell, a political prisoner who is still being held hostage by the US government in prison, and Jeremy Glick and the legendary director Melvin Van Peeples came together with that idea to have our music come on the screen and use it as a tool to speak about the state of our community to 25 million viewers. We thought it was a great idea so we accepted and we all made it happen.

WHO?MAG: How did you hook up with Kamal Bell, Fred Hampton, and Davey D? We knew each other for a long time from an event or organized meeting. We have been kicking it, doing work together. Movement work, music work, shows. Kamal right now is doing charity shows with Lauren Hill. He’s a good brother and comrade.

WHO?MAG: Why should someone who never heard of dead prez watch “It’s Bigger than Hip-Hop?” It’s not about knowing who we are. If you have any experience in your life that you want to change. If you feel you’re part of a bigger collective. If you have someone in your family on dope and you know it’s the government economy that got the dope game the way it is in the first place. If you ever felt like “f*ck the police”. If you ever felt like any of those above, then you can relate. If you listen to our music, it’s basically our music with the community. If you like some live shows, basically hip-hop mixed with some live shows on some real shit, you’ll love it.

WHO?MAG: In the program, you speak about the inadequacies in the public education system. What do you feel needs to happen in the school systems right now to turn it around? It needs to be turned over to the hands of the people, meaning the parents and the students and the community members. We need to elect our own teachers who would have those responsibilities and who will coordinate a program that will teach us how to be free and independent and not slaves in our development as human beings. I think the school systems need to be revolutionized in a nutshell. We need to move like independents move. People need to open up their basements in their houses and bring a small amount of children together and give them a hands on education of the real world and prepare them for what’s really cracking without subjecting them to the police state with the metal detectors, Riddling injectors, some of these tests, and all the other stuff going on in the school systems. Also to help parents that don’t have access and not able to have that home schooling situation, then they have to march down to the schools and make sure we get what they need out of them or shut them down.

WHO?MAG: What’s next up for dead prez? Two things. Besides my book “The Art of Emcee-ing” we have the “Can’t Sell Dope for Ever” album with The Outlaws and dead prez collaboration. Then in October, Young Noble of the Outlaws and myself are dropping an album called “Soldier to Soldier”. We got some real strong things coming down the pipe. People are loving our thing on the system and the things we do, so we’re going to keep doing that.