No, you didn’t download the wrong album. It is certainly dead prez you’re listening to, not FloRida. Or 2 Chainz. Or like, Weezy or something. This deluxe reissue of Information Age is classic DP content paired with some melodious curiosities. Still, the physical release would have been adequately enhanced with half of the six additional tracks. No shade.
Opening song “A New Beginning” is just that – two years shy of a decade since their last album, it’s not just a chronological new beginning but a sonic one as well. Mid-tempo pop drum kits, ambient synths and sing-songy hooks back messages of freedom and revolution. You think it’s a fluke at first. Or perhaps they’re poking fun at today’s musical climate. But then the song ends sans accompanying skit signifying ‘sike,’ and second track ’“What if the Lights Go Out” begins with an equally pop-ish feel.
You do a quick scan through the remaining songs. You realize dead prez are dead serious. It’s a little jarring, a little strange – but strange in a good way. We think.
Recently added “Intelligence is Sexy” is strategically sequenced mid-album, driving things forward where they may have lagged before. As Gabby Duran of Miami based duo Duran Blu lends vocals on the inspirational “Overstand “ and Bun B spits a righteous verse on the “Time Travel Re-Mix” it’s easy to feel upgraded from last October’s digital release. But “Politrikks” and “Scar Strangled Banner” don’t up the ante, offering much of the same information and sound that was already present.
Information Age is a great studio production with crisp, well-defined highs and lows. It is mixed and mastered well. Even if the style shift is not your cup of tea, it does sound great and manages to give you the peculiar, never thought of feeling of being “zenned up and zoned out.”
Most importantly, the project sparks an interesting conversation, not just about timely world issues like spiritual awakening, corrupt government, manufactured disease and environmental woes. It evokes commentary on the mindless hooks we’re often reciting, wrapped in catchy dance-pop quasi electro beats and sing-songy hooks. Or addictive 808’s laced with uplifters. Either way, the music serves as a distraction from the shoddy content we’re fed regularly. On the contrary, when Stic and Mutulu are dropping science on politics and religion over these tracks, that’s got to be a win-win right?
Can we look toward a trend of substantial music over club beats? It can’t hurt to have a couple heavily rotated. The jury is still out however, on an entire album’s worth.
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