Name: Dead Prez
Mixtape: Get Free or Die Tryin': Turn Off the Radio: the Mixtape, Vol. 2
Hometown: Florida and Brooklyn
Joints to check for: “F— the Law,” “Tallahassee Days,” “Last Days Reloaded” and “Paper, Paper.”
Previous mixtapes:Turn Off the Radio: the Mixtape, Vol.1
The 411: Technically, it’s been three years since Dead Prez released an official album, the controversial but lauded Get Free. But the duo of M-1 and Sticman have been anything but stagnant, putting out the mixtape LP Turn Off the Radio last year and gearing to drop their follow-up on October 27.
“Actually, we call it a mixtape as a marketing strategy,” the group’s M-1 said about his latest project. “We’re letting people know that we’re going to be consistently dropping music. [The mixtape] is a mix of our ideas and our crew, the People’s Army. We call it a mixtape, but for all intents and purposes, it’s a full album.
“We’re basically motivated by a mind state and a love for 50 Cent’s album, how it hit the community the way it did,” he continued about playing off of 50’s Get Rich or Die Tryin’ title. “Understand that we too are soldiers, soldiers for the people.”
Almost prophetically, the first song released off the mixtape is called “F— the Law” and finds the “Revolutionary But Gangsta” rap clan striking back at abusive boys in blue. In real life, the group is getting ready to file a lawsuit against the NYPD for police brutality. A couple of weeks ago in Brooklyn, the two say, they were roughed up by the police for no reason.
“We knew what was going to go down,” M-1 said about allegedly getting mistreated by the authorities after the record dropped. “It happened to me two years ago, one block from where the police f—ed with us a month go.”
Later in the mixtape, the DPs team with another group that knows a few things about bumping heads with the law, Onyx. The two factions collaborate for an updated version of the Queens trio’s powerfully poetic “Last Dayz,” from the 1995 LP All We Got Iz Us, where they rhymed about the angst of ghetto warfare and frustration with the police and government.
“We did that [song] using the old ’Last Dayz’ beat,” M explained. “Fredro, Sonny Caeser and Sticky re-laid their verses. They revamped them. We love ’Last Dayz.’ That sh– was crazy; they made you feel what they was talking about. It talked about so much of what we been on. We came in the game influenced by records like that. The jewel of the whole [new] song is with Sticky’s last verse.”
Dead Prez already have plans to put out their next mixtape, tentatively titled The Game or the Gospel, in December. If negotiations go right with Columbia Records, the group’s next official LP, Revolutionary But Gangsta, will be released sometime in 2004. The group recorded with peers like Jay-Z, Bone Thugs-N-Harmony and Erykah Badu for the album, but the project has been on the shelf because the group severed ties with Columbia.
Dead Prez said that Bad Boy, Shady Records, G-Unit Records and Roc-A-Fella are all trying to sign them to deals. They are looking to ink a contract somewhere by the end of the year.
“I’m seeing a swing,” M said of the direction of hip-hop. “People want reality. What we’re doing is no different from what Ice Cube was doing or what [Public Enemy] was doing.”
As part of their deal with Landspeed Records, Get Free or Die Tryin': Turn Off the Radio: the Mixtape, Vol. 2 will be released to stores on October 27.
For other artists featured in Mixtape Mondays, check out Mixtape Mondays Headlines.
For a full-length feature on the role of mixtapes in the music industry, check out “Mixtapes: The Other Music Industry.”