Sunday, August 16, 2009

dead prez The Pulse of the People (Music Review)

Read my review on dead prez's Pulse of the People for and listen to the mixtape when you feel like overthrowing some shit.

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dead prez
(Invastion Music Group : 2009)

Hip-Hop’s equivalent to the revolutionary Black Panther Party, dead prez, is one of the few rap conglomerates that enjoy life without censorship. Plus, that damn double consciousness of theirs grants them access to both the unofficial fiefdom of worldwide gangstas and the equally unofficial roundtable of political overthrowers with social ease and very little credibility points damaged. Stic.Man and M-1 crack their ambassadorial knuckles on the Pulse of the People mixtape, the third volume of the Turn Off the Radio series, to which DJ Green Lantern, of Invasion! Mixtape series fame, lends a hosting voice. Cranked with African socialist ideals and demonstrations against institutionalized racism, Pulse of the People doesn’t lose its musical edge despite its dense political content.

In fact, the mixtape’s fiery lyrics and explosive production commingle very comfortably, with an advantage, of course, to the lyrics, which outrun Green Lantern’s dark but scanty instrumentals. After all, it’s dead prez, a group’s whose words have rarely been camouflaged by the beat. Take the track “Warpath” for instance, in which the underground duo swap sixteens about the corruption of the man. Over an electric guitar riff, M-1 rages, “He, the judge, the jury, and executioner/ Redneck Lucifer, the streets is on fire for all the years you’ve been abusing us.” The bars could light a stove a capella.

Pulse of the People also welcomes a coterie of diverse feature artists. Styles P bangs the gavel on “Gangsta, Gangster,” sharing credits on a mixtape with a motley crew of rhymesters that include Bun B, Johnny Polygon, Chuck D, Avery Storm, and Ratfink. dead prez needs no assistance, however, on the economy-indicting “$timulus Plan,” on which they urge, “You should google the Amero, then the Afro and the Euro/ Dollar bills don’t make you loyal, it can kill you…” Although the group hasn’t grown too much creatively, dead prez’s political vision has stayed consistent, rewarding a core fan base raised on the group’s radical debut album Let’s Get Free.

dead prez has mostly focused on content over craft over their steadily pulsating careers. So, where some may see a track like “Summertime” as a reminiscent, or better yet recycled version of Let’s Get Free ’s “Happiness,” the duo sees it as another cut that unveils how oppressed people find joy in their lives. In short, Pulse of the People may not be progressive hip-hop, but it is, more importantly, progressive politics.

-Sidik Fofana

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