The current stables of emcees are quick to claim that they’re strictly in this for their own agenda—which is usually money. Dead Prez is no different, except their agenda is to push their propaganda to teach the masses. On their first outing, Let’s Get Free, DP managed to garner some critical acclaim, and fulfill their obligation to reach the people. Unfortunately for the powers that be, this wasn’t enough. M1 and Stic.man are back with Turn Off The Radio, a mixtape venture that is being used as a vehicle to generate anticipation for their forthcoming sophomore LP.
A la 50 Cent, DP takes some very recognizable instrumentals and flips them by adding a social activist twist. “That’s War!” which jacks the production from Black Rob’s “Whoa”, hit’s harder than the original version. M1 opens up, “The cops stop you just cuz you Black/That’s war/run you through the system for your prints/that’s war/when they call my hood a drug zone/that’s war/slumlord charging you for rent/that’s war/why they so rich/we poor/that’s war.”
Dead Prez follow up on “We Need A Revolution”, where they jack Timbaland’s beat from Aaliyah’s “We Need A Resolution”. As potent as the message is, the effort comes off contrived. However, they more than make up for it on the “Juicy” robbed “B.I.G. Respect”, with introspective bars like, “It was all a dream/started organizing in my late teens/Malcolm X and Huey P who I wanna be/Marcus Garvey on my wall/I was just a young ‘G/thought I been through it all.”
On the skit, “Hit Me, Hit Me”, DP continues to urge the upper class to contribute to their cause. The lyrical “Food, Clothes, + Shelter pt. 2″, is a smack up the side of the head to those day dreaming heads in the music industry. Stic.Man lamnets, “Don’t be scared of Malcolm X/cuz he died for ya/niggas don’t go platinum/record companies go platinum/niggas be happy if anything come back to them/jack the rims off ya Lexus/snatch ya necklace/sell it off/and give the homeless a hot breakfast.” As potent as their messages are, some uninspiring production occasionally detracts from those sentiments, exemplified by the south coast influenced, “Soulja Life Mentality”. Further, The uplifting “Get Up”, is laced with handclaps and synths, to make any revolutionary jump up. However the track falls victim to a weak chorus. “Know Your Enemy” doesn’t do Dead Prez much justice either. Luckily, the lyrics are strong enough to carry the song. Luckily a few gems lie within “It Was Written” and “Sellin’ D.O.P.E.”.
Dead Prez show great promise and skill in terms of giving the people what they “need”. Unfortunately they have difficulty giving the fans what they “want”. Fans of Dead Prez will enjoy the message, but will have to dust off Let’s Get Free for any real inspiration.
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