6 April, 2004@12:00 am
The revolution will not be televised…for that matter the revolutionary damn near wasn’t even heard. R.B.G, Dead Prez’s sophomore effort has been through the ringer over the course of the last year. Columbia initially dropped them on the cusp of releasing R.B.G (the LP was getting rave reviews at the time, including a 4 1/2 mics from The Source). From that point, the LP was destined to collect dust in some vault never to be heard. Then, after nearly a year, Columbia suddenly decided to re-sign them and finally release the politically charged R.B.G. If you haven’t heard the controversial group known as Dead Prez yet, you’ve probably been living under a rock. With an unadulterated debut that sent shockwaves throughout the industry, one has got to wonder what stic.man and M-1 have up their sleeves this time. Revolutionary But Gangsta is the answer to that inquisition, but is the public ready for another one of Dead Prez’s tirades?
One thing is for sure, Revolutionary but Gangsta is the perfect title for their follow up album, as Dead Prez become even more aggressive than on their debut. From the outset, Dead Prez join forces with Krayzie Bone for the fierce “Walk Like A Warrior”, as all three emcees deliver militant parables with rapid fire flows. What becomes apparent immediately is that Dead Prez are truly going gangsta with this release. “I Have a Dream, too” is the uncompromising approach of cop killing controversy that would make Ice-T blush. Whether you agree with the message or not, the fact that their approach does contain some merit is refreshing. Throughout the album their message goes from solid (“Radio Freq”) to a bit abstract (“Hell Yeah”) which to some is the same old bashing of white people & capitalism, by-any-means-necessary stance that is echoed from the last album. “Hell Yeah (pimp the system)” is an example when the message becomes a little distorted. The third verse consists of linking welfare and food stamps to reparations and thus utilizing it to pimp the system. Where the problem lies is that this isn’t exactly “pimping the system” but it gives off the impression that black folk should be lazy instead of going out to get their own. On the other hand, Dead Prez’s mission will educate many who have been able to appreciate the Nat Turners, Che’ Guevarras, and Marcus Garveys of the world. On each song, stic.man and M-1 are able to be the loud, outspoken guerilla emcees they are. They are out to smash stereotypes and uplift the community with harsh tales of reality and a musical handbook of how the bottom feeders will come out on top. “W-4″ is the poor man’s tale, as Dead Prez link working a 9-to-5 to working on the plantation, which is true to many, no matter the skin color. Dead Prez is even able to weave tales of how weed manages to make its way to the masses, with the bonus track “The Twenty”. And there will be no complaints when Jay-Z lends his own tales of pimping the system to the remix of “Hell Yeah”. Dead Prez have unabashedly proven that their mission will not be led astray, no matter what. Whether you like it or not, is not their problem, it’s yours.
No doubt that throughout the LP, the message becomes stronger than the music, but that can become a problem in itself. Musically, R.B.G does not compare to their debut. Sure, there are tracks that are solid, but none of which are of the memorable variety. The production exhibited here is not the perfect backdrop that was displayed on Let’s Get Free. The in house production is substantial, but one has to wonder what the outcome would have been if there were some diversity in the sound. With a total 14 songs (two of which are an intro and outro while there are 3 versions of “Hell Yeah”) the ride on the revolutionary train becomes a rather short one. Nonetheless, Dead Prez are still bringing the heat that’ll make Chuck D jump out his seat and the fire that Malcolm X would desire. So to each his own, as far as what Dead Prez has got to say. But the one thing that they demand and will receive with this release is respect. And that is what many seek but most can never obtain.
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