A Few Things to Ponder: Dead Prez Still Banging For Freedom
By Davey D
You can peep our interview by clicking here:
This past weekend the Bay Area was blessed with a visit and stellar performances from dead prez. They came through to do a special concert which will be aired during Black History month on Starz TV. They also did a special fundraiser concert for the Malcolm X Grassroots Movement…
We got a chance to sit down with M1 and local Oakland based artist Ise Lyfe and talked about a number of recent situations including the execution of Crips co-founder Stanley ‘Tookie’ Williams, the riots in France and the importance of being a good emcee.
M1 noted that he wasn’t surprised that Governor Schwarzenegger opted to deny clemency and execute Tookie. He said that the state wanted to send a strong message to the community which in essence stated that we will kill the people you care about and stand up for no matter what and that you best not stand beside these people or you’ll be next.
M1 cited Governor Schwarzenegger’s criticism of the Freedom Fighters Tookie’s said were heroes as proof that the state is determined to eradicate our heroes and sheroes. He said that we as a community often overlook and forget things, but the state rarely does, which is why 20 -30 years after the fact they are still chasing down and persecuting former Panthers and Black freedom fighters from the 60s.
During our interview we spoke about how there are corporations that work hand in hand with the government to carry out this agenda to oppress and silence people. The radio campaign launched by Clear Channel to do a daily ‘Kill Tookie Radio’ show in LA was one glaring example. Clear Channel in LA is now in the works to launch a ‘Kill Mumia Radio’ show.
M1 reminded people that despite these set backs we need to build upon and remember the small victories. He pointed out that there are many including the recent decision that came down which will hopefully lead to Mumia getting a new trial.
He noted that it’s important that everyone start to organize and put aside differences or we will see more killings and executions. He cited one great example of the community uniting which was the Blood Nation street gang hooking up with the New Black Panther Party in New York. We talked about the significance of that and acknowledged how in the past during crucial moments in our history that people like former Panther Bunchy Carter, Fred Hampton and Mark Clark were killed via Cointel-pro when they attempted to connect the gangs with politicized organizations. M1 talked about the original name for the Crips which was Community Revolution in progress.
During part 2 of our interview we spoke about the recent rash of police shootings and killings in New York and New Jersey. Over the past few months 9 cops have been shot. We wanted to find out what was going on when you consider that for along the police ruled with an iron fist under the Mayor Guliani’s administration. M1 noted that things have gotten hot in New York and while he could not say that the recent shootings had a direct political connection, he noted that the general mood has been people have gotten tired of being hemmed up by the police and have started to stop being scared and fight back. He says he doesn’t like to see killings and shootings, but significant change is going to have to come in order to calm things down. He talked about the type of disparity that exists between rich and poor in NY and how Mayor Bloomberg has exacerbated that situation.
We switched up and spoke about the recent riots in France. M1 noted that dead prez has traveled all over the world including France and he pointed out that what we see on TV is not how it really is in France. He says there’s a lot of poverty and a lot of racism. He also pointed out the oppression that France puts on countries throughout Africa including places like Mali and Senegal.
He pointed out that rappers in France have long been speaking out about police oppression and other bad situations and that it was too bad that more of us in the states had not been up on what is going on in other parts of the world. He talked about the types of negative images of Black people from America that are being exported around the world and how it has led to wide spread misperceptions that need to be cleared up. He said we need to brush up on our history and languages and note that in many parts of the world Hip Hop artists are having conversations with one another and building important bridges while the US artists are no where to be seen. He talked about his recent travels to South Africa and Venezuela
During part 3 of our interview we spoke with Oakland artist Ise Lyfe (Def Poetry Slam) who was opening up for dead prez this weekend. He added to the conversation by offering up his perspective about Tookie’s execution. He noted that in East Oakland a lot of young people were out and about passing out flyers and petitions calling for Tookie to be Free.
He said that Tookie’s redemption did resonate with lot of young people who are often overlooked and counted out. Ise said that too often we hold a perception that young folks are not politicized when many times they are. He went on to talk about the Bay Area’s current Hyphy Movement and how it has serious political overtones when you actually sit down and talk with the kids who are down with it.
We also built upon the recent rash of Black vs. Brown violence in LA schools the days after Tookie got killed. We spoke about the importance of various communities forging alliances and building with one another and to pay attention to attempts to keep as at one another.
In the last part of the show we spoke in great detail about the art of emceeing. Both M1 and Ise talked about how they hone their skillz and that it was important to have music that is socially relevant but banging. M1 noted that he gives his all when he spits and that dead prez takes emceeing very seriously. In fact Sticman has just released a book that focuses on the art and techniques behind emceeing and how you go about getting everything from breath control on down to executing flows.
Ise added that conscious artists are in competition with everything that is out there and that they have be tight otherwise they’ll be bypassed. It’s important to come across as a winner. He also noted that many of the commercial/gangsta rappers that the conscious Hip Hop community likes to dis are actually quite good and saying a lot of things in their songs and that we should not sleep.
Ise went on to add that women are in a key position to raise standards by demanding more from the brothers. M1 talked about how the flyest women during the days of the Panthers never wanted to be with a wack dude. Wackness back then meant not being politicized and that ideally we should move in a direction where we redefine the concept of what it means to be ‘tight’ and be on top of your game.
We concluded by offering up a number of solutions to improve conditions in the community. Both M1 and Ise said that we need community defense systems within our community and we need to step up our education. M1 added that we need to be courageous and not punk out to the challenges that come before us.
The pair talked about their upcoming projects including M1’s new solo album and Ise Lyfe’s new album ‘Spread the Word’
You can peep our interview by clicking here: