Like many others [I presume], I was very excited for dead prez’s new album. Eight years waiting; the anticipation was at an apex. Over fall break, a like-minded friend and I eagerly gave it a listen, and were absolutely baffled. ”Could this really be dead prez?” we asked each other.
If there was a music award purely for the element of surprise, dead prez would get my unequivocal vote.
Though they still retain their socio-political messaging, M-1 and stic.man have chosen to rap their wisdom over dance-pop Top 40 beats –> an interesting artistic choice, but one that is quite astonishing and potentially alienating to their fan base. Shock value aside, it ultimately detracts from their profound poetics. True to their reputation, they created another thought-provoking album, but instead of pondering the school-to-prison pipeline, it is equally tempting to ask: “is that a sample from Ke$ha’s new single?”
I should note: not every track is synth-heavy and reminiscent of strobe lights, but even so, the sharp and eloquent lyrics so signifying of dead prez have lost their edge. M-1 and stic.man seemed to have stepped back from unabashed radicalism to embody a slightly more passive sage-like role. Instead of encouraging their listeners to rob pizza delivery boys, they instead advise love, patience, spiritual renewal, and perseverant education.
“Through the course of life, you gon taste some humble pie”
Definintely a message worth sending, but still an intriguing twist of tongue for M-1 and stic.man.
If you consider yourself a fan of dead prez, I would give this album a listen [or two]. The first time may be difficult and awkward, but I have found that Information Age is slowly growing on me. Once over the initial shock of the pseudo-rave beats, one can easily find the provocative politik that endears, engages, and excites dead prez’s audience. The vegan diet, the climate crisis, and the capitalist commercialization of Western religion all make an appearance. Though the question remains: are dead prez still Revolutionary But Gangsta? It is up to you to decide.