on the Radio with dead prez


DJ Cloak

Editor’s Note: In true “Fuck tha Police” tradition, dead prez is suing the infamous NYPD (while other profiled “rappers” are now rocking NYPD caps). No “star-spangled slaves” here! An underground DJ conducted this interview with M1 and stic.man live. Really, really live. Driving the white wartime censors at a certain station out of their colonzing little minds. It was a month or so before the slated release of RBG: Revolutionary But Gangsta, dead prez’s major-label follow-up to their debut album, Let’s Get Free (2000). But then “hood news” had it that the Columbia Records plantation dropped the duo, abruptly terminating their contract, and shelving their much-anticipated album whose live-ass title was already on our tongues. Rumors raged that these “free agents” would be wrapped up by everybody from Bad Boy to Def Jam as they aim to “pimp the system.” Get Free or Die Tryin’ (2003), dpz’s second “mixtape” independent release, amped us in the meantime. Afterwards, the Sony plantation is said to have re-signed the duo. Maybe their RBG will never hit the stores. But it hit the radio real hard this day. Thanks to DJ Cloak. Just listen!


[Intro: The title track from dpz’s Turn Off the Radio, The Mixtape, Volume One (2002) is on full blast…]

DJ Cloak:

Aight, we live on-air. This DJ Cloak. We got dead prez up in Studio-A right now.

dead prez:

[Makin’ serious noise] Don’t believe ’em! Don’t believe tha hype! It’s RBG!

DJ Cloak:

Tell them what you represent and where you’re from?

dead prez:

Deez nuts! [Jokes] Yo, it’s dpz holdin’ it down, Black Power-style worldwide, youknow how we goin’ down.

First words I got to say is: “Free Herman Bell.” Knaamean? Right uphere in Binghamton, right here around this area in Clinton, all my soldiersbehind enemy lines, these mountains right here. Free all my Bruthas, forreal. That’s what I’m hollerin’ bout before I say anything at all. Knaamean? This where I’m at. Reppin’ that.

DJ Cloak:

So, we just gonna get into a coupla questions a coupla people wanted me to ask y’all.

dead prez:

Here we go.

I dunno know if I wanna answer no questions. Are they riders? Only questions from strictly riders! This way bigger than music.

DJ Cloak:

I feel you! First thing people wanna know is, what does your name mean: “dead prez,” where does it come from?

dead prez:

Well, y’all take it how you wanna take it. Knaamean? It depends on what way youtryin to go in life. Something might be good for you; something mightnot be. “dead prez” might mean money for you, if that’s what you’re dealin’with. For me, it means “dead bush,” “dead george bush,” straight up. Hole inthe head, knaamean? It’s real like that. Take it how you wanna to take it. This Revolutionary But Gangsta right here. Peace, yo. RBG. Reppin’ Marcus Garvey all the way on down. You know, the real O.G.’s.

DJ Cloak:

Now, about your symbol, why do you use the hexagram, the army from theI-Ching?

dead prez:

Well, People Army, baby! You know, we just kidnapped that right quick.Throw it on nigga’s necks. Don’t get all caught up in the I-Ching though,it’s about RBG though: Red Black and Green.

DJ Cloak:

Word up.

dead prez:

Sun Tzu gave it to us; Chairman Mao gave it to us. Knaamean? It’s mad old. Wetryin’ to do something that come a long way back and fulfill what we knowwe got to do. So when you see that right there, it just mean we tryin’ toarmy up. So, if you’re trying to army up with us, that’s what it meansright there; that’s why we got it between dead prez, because we gotta havethat army right there to get what we tryin’ to get.

DJ Cloak:

That’s real right there. So what made you want to be “socially conscious”rappers?

dead prez:

We not “socially conscious” rappers. I never really wanted to be that. Wedon’t want to be called that. That sounds corny!

DJ Cloak:

So what do you want to be considered? Just revolutionaries?

dead prez:

Man, I consider myself a soldier for the people? You know what I mean? I consider myself somebody who’s gotta do whatever it takes to get what Igotta get. I’m a gangsta for what I believe in. You know what I mean? I’m willin’ to ride for whatever, however, and I’m willin’ to put that outthere so other people who feel the same way I feel, whether you be afreedom fighter, whether you call yourself an “activist,” whether you call yourselfa mother, a father, a teacher, whether you call yourself a “fool,” you gotto get free. You know what I mean? So, whatever it is, I’m not here tobe in nobody’s category. Matter fact, what that do more thananything is divide us. You know what I mean? Instead of unite us. So,basically, that’s why we rollin’ the way we rollin’. Everybody put inyour application. We ooking at resumes, we tryin’ to get with soldierswho’s on the right team. If we see “snitch” on your resume, you’re outta here. If we see “collaborator with the state” on there, you’re outta here.You knaamean? If we see “red, white, and blue” on that, you outtahere, you understand what I’m saying. That’s what we talkin’ about.


DJ Cloak:

So let’s move on to the next question. What are your views on this governmentright here. I know it’s all messed up and everything. What do you think of this puppet democracy right here.

dead prez:

Well, you know, George Bush and his whole establishment is the gangsterwith the “er”, the “gangster.” They puttin’ their gangster down all over theworld. That’s how they eat; that’s how they survive, like a parasite, likea virus, like a SARS virus, like the AIDS virus. That’s how they survive,taking over other people’s resources and wealth. Knaamean? Living off it like atapeworm in your stomach. Knaamean? That’s what this government is. That’s what “American pie” is made out of: the blood of everybody else on the planet.

DJ Cloak:

What’s your thoughts on the prison industrial complex and all theorganizing going around it?

dead prez:

Well, you know what? They done built up this whole university right here in themiddle of where they ship our soldiers. They built up this school right here, this prize little this enclave, in the middle of all this. Our warriors being locked up. They built a whole economy based off of these little towns up here croppin’ up. You know what Imean? And the indigenous people sitting right up here, they swoopin’ upmore land, ooking’ prisons on it and all that. You know what I mean? I think thatbasically what we gotta do is break everybody out of prison so we canstart doin’ what we need to do on these streets. You knaamean? So if your cousin lockedup, you need to maintain contact with him. You know what I mean? Figure outta way to get him up outta there, no matter what. You know, hook orcrook. If you know about political prisoners, you got to know we all political prisoners behind this system until we get free. Right here is a prime example of mad of my Bruthas coming from Dannemora all the way up and down Attica, back down to the island. You know what I mean? So, right here this whole place is our land, our sacred people. We got gold in these hills.

DJ Cloak:

So how can we rebuild society?

dead prez:

One step at a time. That’s all. Just put in your work. It’sabout power, the power to control your day to day being. You know what Imean? You just develop it from there; and you try to get the nextniggas on the next block doing that. Y’all don’t shoot each other; y’all clique it up and share what you got on this block with what you got on that block. You know what I’m saying? And it’s worldwide.

We gonna need principles to live by. We gonna need some discipline. We gonna need to build our families and raise the seeds, knowin’ that’s what it’s all about, and raise them to be killers of our oppressors. That’s the first step toward us rebuilding it theway we need it, you know what I mean? So it’s good for us.

DJ Cloak:

What are your viewpoints on women in today’s society?

dead prez:

I love Sistas. I hope they love me.

You know what it is, Harriet Tubman’s holding it down still. Assata Shakur. That’s the reflection. You know what I mean? That’s the balance, man. Big up to all the Sistas soldiers holding’ it down for real and don’t get that credit, that recognition, for all the leadership y’all lay down for the war.

There’s a group of Sistas who been workin’ with us since we came in here and I wanna give a big shout out to them: everybody our here ooking’ the work down, every lil’ piece of it, you know? I mean my Sista’s been leaders and teachers, women in my life since I came out this thing. And that’s how it’s going down. Right beside me. Shoot, I’m looking’ for Sista soldiers, guerrillas too. You know what I mean?

[Shoutin’ in the background] Keep it grown and freaky, too!

DJ Cloak:

So what campaigns and organizing are you actually working on right now?

dead prez:

Hey, I like to shout out the POCC. That's the Prisoners of ConsciousCommittee. Some of you might know about that up here. We came uphere about a year ago, Fred Hampton, Jr. and myself, doing “Dare toStruggle, Dare to Win.” ’Cause if you don't dare to struggle, then goddamnit, you don't deserve to win. That's what it's all about. So the POCC is jumpin off, you know what I mean? We talkin’ bout “One Prisoner, One Contact.” You know what I mean? We talkin’ bout breakin’ bars and crushing concrete. You knaamean? Holding triple “S's,” “Straight Street Sessions.” Knaamean? ’Cause if the people ain't coming to the meetin’, we gonna bring the meetin’s to the people. The wayshit's supposed to be. So, word up, that's the POCC, if you wanna get in contact with it…

Hey, turn the music down a little bit. Hey, hey, hey!

Listen up!

Just turn it down a lil’ bit: I got somethin’ I wanna spit to the people.

W@#$ [Voice-Over]: “The program may contain language and material that may be considered offensive [dpz: Oh!]. The views expressed are those of the engineer [dpz: Blat, blat, blat!] and may not reflect the views of the management [dpz: Hey, hey, hey!] of W@#$ or other W@#$ station members. Therefore, we advise you to carefully consider whether you or your children should listen [dpz: Laughin’ in the background].”

dead prez:

I wanted to give out information on the POCC. That’s why I asked you to turn down the music. Mine wasn’t for that announcement! Matter fact, I wasn’t even with that. ’Cause I think people should have free speech. And I feel like just even these English words is curse words. You know what I mean? I been forced to say this; I’m forced to talk in this language. If I could communicate outside [it, with my people], I’d say “Uhuru!” Which is a Swahili word with me, “Freedom!” So I’ma go at it like that.

So, even off the side of that, if you wanna get in contact with the organization, the POCC,

Prisoners of Conscience Committee, I want you to to write in to our P.O. Box: P.O. Box 26855/Chicago, IL/60636. Bang on the system!

Alright, give me somethin’. [Music resumes in the background]

DJ Cloak:

What do you want to see people doing about fighting for this war that’s being fought right here? For “peace” and “equality,” what do you want to see people do inside and outside the community?

dead prez:

Get hip, get hip! Get hip to the game, man. Study for yourself and comeout with solutions that you see. You know what I mean? I don't want to see people tryin’ to copy what's already been done and tried and died. Youknow what I mean? It's time for that new breed, that new seed. Really, I'm looking for creativity. So I could you know, participate in it; and if I'm sparking it off, then you participate with it. Things like revolutionary health, you know what I mean, issomething that we need. We need to know that we can naturally heal our self; we need to know the doctor in the hospital is the dope-man in the crack-house. You knaamean? Our children don't need to be educated in the bullshit school system. We need to know that college is a House Nigga Training Camp; and if you gonna be up in thehouse, you got to be pimpin’ the system. You know, whoop de whoop, we needto be trainin’ in the martial arts. You know what I mean? We need to begoin’ to the range. We need to be certified to ride and hold them pistols. You know, all that.

You need to know CPR so you can heal your brothers and sisters out here. We need astrategic scientific approach to takin’ this whole system out. And everybodywho can add on, please add on. ’Cause that's what it's gonna to really take. It's gonna be about freedom; it's gonna be about power; it's gonna be aboutjustice. You know what I mean? That’s what it's going to be. So if you down with it, then lets ride.

And as far as this music game, man, we need to be thinkin’ like owners. Like, you know, the Chinese food store in the hood on lockdown; you got all type of different people that's locking down their sections of town. Whoop-dee-whoop. And Black people, you know, descendants of Africa, wherever you might be on the planet., what we dois music. We lay it down, we speak the real. It’s comin’ from us but we ain't controllin’ it. So we need to be thinkin’ like owners from the top to the bottom; from the studio to the disc-pressing to the writin’ it; to the masters. We need to be the masters. Boss up!

If you wanna know more about that, then hit us up at info@kickgame.com. That’s the grassroots artists movement here to bang on the system from the inside out. All you artisits, get your nuts back; Sistas, hold your thing tight. Let’s get this thing right; let’s get our power back; let’s bang for our joint right here, right now. You know what I mean? For real.

DJ Cloak:

How can we combine local struggles with this international struggle for”peace” and what not?

dead prez:

We got to communicate on a national level.

What you mean about peace, man? You know what? I was just readin’ this book by Albert Cleage. He said people that’s oppressed don’t want peace.

Word up.

’Cause, see, it’s easy to have peace. All you gotta do is accept what'swrong; all you gotta do is accept injustice; accept dope in your hood; and keep the peace.

That’s “peaceful.”

But anytime it’s something that you know needs changin’, it’s gonna cause a conflict with the people that’s tryin’ to keep it the same and keep it peaceful. Only people yellin’ out “peace” is the police. The only people yellin’ out “peace” is George Bush, and he the main nigga bringin’ the bombs.

Word up.

So we don't want peace.

We want freedom.

We want war against the war. We want war against the beast. We wanna fight. We wanna fight. We don't want peace.

I want my freedom right now.

Internationally and locally.

Give me freedom before peace anyday. You know what I mean? So when you walk up to me, I'm definitely peaceful towards my Bruthas and my Sistas; I'm definitely peaceful towards my allies and the peoples on my same side of the field. But I’m warrin’. I'm here to give ’em hell. Knaamean? Till I get off this thing, I’m here to give ’em hell. That’s what I’m here to do.

Like you say “peaceful,” we say keep your piece full. Ya heard me?

Freedom before peace!

DJ Cloak:

Can you talk to us about Hip-Hop as a form of liberation.

dead prez:

It’s liberatin’ in that you can say what the fuck you want to say! Eventhough they bleep it out! It’s liberatin’, man. You wanna say, you wanna express yourself man. We livin’ in this, right? So we don't wanna edit it all up. We wanna say it how we wanna say it. We don’t wanna be locked in no category over here or over here. You wanna express yourself. If it ain't that, it ain't liberatin’. If I can't say I'm about my power and I wanna get some pussy at the same time, then it ain't liberatin’.

And you know what it is though? Let me tell you something. When we talk about music, straight up, everybody don't have to make revolutionary music. I ain’t here, dead prez ain't here, to convert everybody to making revolutionary music. “You got to do how we do.” I think it’s still people out there who make music who are still for thehood, who might never say the word freedom or who might not talk about noMalcolm X. Even though Jigga do talk about Malcom X, for all thosewho know, who ain’t just skimmin’ through it. I want to say things like, we gonna need people outside the music that’s gon bang for this as well as people who in it to do it. It’s very liberatin’ for me to talk this right here that’s gon be able to free up some other people that’s out here livin’, you know what I mean, doin’ the same old thing, falling in the same old mold. That's cool, but you ain't got to do this. Let’s just bang for the same thing. I'm proud of y’all soldiers, I'm proud of the hood. I'm proud of whatever you do as long as you do it in the right, for us, sayin’ this is what we do; this is what we bangin’ for. Straight up.

You ain't got to be dp. Just support it. Ride with us or collide with us.

W@#$ [Voice-Over]: … “The program may contain language and/or material that may be considered offensive. The views expressed are those of the engineer and may not reflect the views of the management of W[@#$] or other W[@#$] station members. Therefore, we carefully advise you to carefully consider whether you or your children should listen.”

dead prez:

[Louder] RBG for life, y’all! Bang for freedom, y'all! Freedom right now, y’all. Bang for freedom right now. When we say turn off the radio, we mean turn on our people's radio. You know what I mean. So if this radio station right here reflect the views of thepeople, then turn it on; and if it don't reflect your views, then turn itoff. Turn it off. Make it work for you. Let's start pirate radio stations if it ain'twhat it is. You know what I mean. Let’s communicate through leaflets; let's get out here in the yard, man, where we do our music as the way wecommunicate. Straight up. Yeah. [Sings from Bob Marley’s song of freedom]

DJ Cloak:

Y’all have any questions out there?

Caller R:

Yeah, what do you think about these “State of Hip-Hop Summits” that Russell Simmons be doin? Has he ever invited y’all?

dead prez:

Yeah, we've been invited; and just ’cause I've been to it doesn't mean thatit was something that I put together. Don't get it twisted. [Or] that weorganized it. I think the Hip-Hop summits is about time for Hip-Hopbecause everybody in the world represent the power that Hip-Hop can use togarnish our people to do. You know what I mean? Ways that we can act. However, it gotta be used as a sincere tool to get out some of the real things that have not been said. I have not heard that Hip-Hop conference voice none of the real issues of the hood at all. Matter fact, I have not ever seen that Hip-Hop conference really make goals and objectives that we can live by. Besides, “Don't do…” what this station isdoin’: censoring us. “Don't say nigga, don't say *****.” You know what I mean? I think there's way more conversation we need to have. I think we need to have a conversation about who's the real enemy. You know what I mean, I think we need to have a conversation in Hip-Hop about who's the oppressor? Whether he be on the contract or whether he got on a blue uniform on. Who represent the state and who don't? That's never been had. I think we need to talk about not “*****” as a term for women, but let's talk about what is women's role in Hip-Hop and why is that such a thing that'sbeen downplayed. Why women don't never get acknowledged for the work theybeen doin? Ever since Sylvia Robinson, from the beginning of thisthing, from Sugar Hill Records down to this damn day? You know, it’s been Sistas who’ve been leaders in this. It ain't just a movement, it's all throughout our whole life where Sistas gotta bang, and do be bangin beside us. So it's a whole bunch of issues. Even our own creative rights, the legal pimping that goes on in the industry. None of that been touched by the Hip-Hop conference. I challenge Russell Simmonsand everybody else who’s united with that to do that ’cause if you don't,you just gon punk out. I'm not here for a media display. I'm not here to take a whole bunch of pictures. You knaamean? What I'm here is to get things solved, get some power for the people; and if we ain't getting that, then shut the hell up! Let's keep movin’. You know what I mean? Straight up. And I'ma be there saying that! If you ever see me there, that's what I represent when I'm sittin’ there.

Caller B:

I got a question about The Spook Who Sat By The Door. Didn’t you use the film for a skit on your first album?

dead prez:

Yeah, yeah.

If you seen it, you know why we love it! That’s a dream come true right there! I just related to it. You knaamean?

I think he’s talking about the CIA’s role in underminin’ the Black movement. That movie was significant because there is this belief that there might be somebody from our camp, from our side of the team, who can infiltrate and who can come back to the hood. That’s has never been proven to be true. The closest that I’ve ever seen to any spook, who’s not even a spook, who’s been outright, is Geronimo Pratt who came back to our hood and showed the hood everything he learned about Vietnam as a Green Beret; as a soldier, a true soldier from the people first, who was sent from his people in Louisiana, a revolutionary people, to the army to learn to bring it back to our people. That’s the closest that I ever seen to that. Other than that I don’t believe in it. I believe we gotta organize with strategic intent to know what we gotta do. We can’t be prayin’ on no Jesus, no white God. That’s the same thing as believin’ in a spook. So, straight up: I love the movie. It’s a great movie. You know what I mean. But let’s make this real life.

Yeah!

Caller G:

Can you talk about George Jackson, too, then? You used his mother’s voice on a skit from your next joint, that skit called “hood news,” right?

dead prez:

Word. Just to lay it down: Field Marshal George Jackson was brought to the Black Panther Party from inside prison by Huey P. Newton who headed the framework behind the Panthers. He knew that our warriors were locked up behind prison bars, so FieldMarshall George Jackson, who was a comrade who set the standard for all ofour comrades who were divided inside. I'm talking about Black GuerrillaFamily, Bloods, Crips, Mexican Mafia… He has been instrumental in creating a general consciousness about our freedom, inside and behind enemy lines. You know what I mean? He even helped to raise rebellions all the way over on the west coast and the eastcoast in Attica, straight from Folsom, Soledad and all that. So our Field Marshall George Jackson was not only a bad, bad, bad muthafucka, not only did he know his martial arts and he had his political sides down right, he knew what side he was banging on. So, straight up, I can never say enough. You know? Blood in My Eye, forever!

Yeah, George Jackson was an ill martial artist too!

DJ Cloak:

This is the wrap-up: I’d like to thank dead prez and the whole team for coming through and doing this real interview right here. It’s a wrap!

dead prez:

I can shout out one mo’ thang?

DJ Cloak:

Yeah, go ’head!

dead prez:

Hey, I want y’all to look out for Turn Off the Radio, The Mixtape Volume Two: Get Free or Die Tryin’. Look out for my nigga Nimrod: Street Album. Tahir: A-alikes. The whole squad.

RBG for life!

And look out for dpz new album on plantation called Columbia, called RBG: Revolutionary But Gangsta.

Hey!

DJ Cloak:

…DJ Cloak signing out.