Continuing on the path of politically minded artists like Public Enemy, 2pac and KRS-One, the Florida-formed-New York based outfit known as Dead Prez has been crafting revolutionary but gangsta hip-hop since the late 1990s. Taking inspiration from the life and social activism of Malcom X, Sticman and M-1, the duo who comprise Dead Prez, have released two proper albums, two underground mix-tapes and two solo albums of street level political hip-hop that is heavily aligned with challenging the status quo, prompting London’s Daily Telegraph to say, “Dead Prez uses music not to lie about having expensive cars or girlfriends with big bottoms, but to rail against the inequities in American Society. They do so with an insight and honesty that is rare in any art-form, let alone hip-hop.”
Stic Man and M-1 first started collaborating when they met on the campus of Florida A&M University. M1 was in school at the time studying economics and stic was a local in the streets of Tallahssee doing the same. They both shared a common understanding of the need for change in their communities and the society at large, and they eventually became organizers and members of the International People’s Democratic Uhuru Movement. During this time the comrades grew significantly in their political education. Both being emcees and avid hip-hop fans, and needing a bigger platform for their organizing efforts they decided New York City would be a great move to get their music broader appeal.
Once In New York, the group dubbed themselves Dead Prez (after “dead presidents,” a slang term for money and a literal meaning that means the system as is stands is dead for the people, and also that the masses of the people are “dead” to the knowledge of ourselves and should be the rightful presidents of our own lives). A chance meeting with Brand Nubian’s Lord Jamar led the group to sign with Loud Records. However, before the band even signed on the dotted line, they collaborated with various artists, and dropped mix tapes. In 1997, the group first appeared on the Loud 97 Set Up tape, with “Food,Clothes and Shelter.” In 1998, Sticman produced and collaborated with mainstream hip-hop artist Big Punisher on his Platinum debut Capital Punishment. dead prez went on to release the singles “Police State With Chairman Omali” and “It’s Bigger Than Hip-Hop” . Along with a captivating live show, dead prez amassed a major buzz, leading up to the release of their debut for Loud/RCA/BMG 2000’s Let’s Get Free.
Let’s Get Free was the first introduction to Sticman and M-1’s revolutionary hip-hop lifestyle—one that strayed from the normal mainstream rapper’s subject matter without creating alienation from the streets. In 2001 and 2003, the group returned with a follow-up to Let’s Get Free, with the two-volume mixtape project Turn off the Radio: The Mixtape, Vol. 1 and Turn off the Radio: The Mixtape, Vol. 2: Get Free or Die Tryin’. Recreating hits by Aaliyah, Black Rob, and the Notorius B.I.G., the group infused their political ideas into the melodic confines of other artists’ songs. Commenting on the project, Sticman said, “We took the popular songs that we love because of the hot sound or melody or whatever and made it relative to Black people’s struggle. It means it’s a lot more we could be talking about with these great hits.”
In 2004, Dead Prez released RBG: Revolutionary But Gangsta on Columbia Records. Featuring a collaboration with Jay-Z on the remix for “Hell Yeah (Pimp the System),” the record created a sonic and philosophical bridge between the much misunderstood gang culture and revolutionary activism. Stic Man explained, “With each album we have a new sound vision and message where we want to fuse certain things. We think about music that we like and certain artists from back in the days to right now wether it be Dr. Dre or Curtis Mayfield or Lil’ Jon or Trick Daddy or Sade or Portishead. We take inspirations from all our favourite music and we fuse elements from that and until we feel like it represents what we’re trying to represent.” Summing up the group’s aesthetic, Stic Man said, “Like a healthy meal, we strive to create albums that are balanced with a few flavourful surprises.”
In June 2006, the cable movie network Starz In Black began airing an original documentary called “dead prez: It’s Bigger Than Hip Hop” directed by John Threat.
The hour-long documentary featured live footage and interviews with dead prez. It also featured interviews from Kamel Bell, owner of Ankh Marketing and son of incarcerated Black Panther Herman Bell; Fred Hampton Jr., son of Black Panther Chief of Staff and Spokesman Fred Hampton; and radio personality Davey D. Among the topics discussed in the documentary are the inadequacies of the public education system, minority entrepreneurship, and social revolution.M1 stated, “we’ve never had the opportunity to express ourselves on this level of magnitude. Starz InBlack taking a chance on us lets us know that the work we are doing is not in vain. That our message is penetrating, it’s getting through.” The network’s audience spans to over 50 million homes.
Dead Prez was one of the featured groups on the feature film Dave Chappelle’s Block Party, released in 2006. In 2006, they and former 2Pac collaborators, the Outlawz, jointly released a mixtape album titled Can’t Sell Dope Forever urging their joint following to find creative ways to make a living and not get caught up in the drugs traps set up by the system. In 2006, M1 recorded a solo album titled “Confidential”. From the album, the song “Til We Get There” was featured on the EA Sports video game NBA Live 2007. In 2008, Stic Man also digitally released his solo album “Manhood”(Boss Up Inc) and his song “Faithfull Lover” appears in Vivicia Fox’s 3 Can Play That Game (Sony Pictures)…
In 2008 stic man produced and co-wrote three songs (“Sly Fox”, “We’re Not Alone” and “Untitled” ) on the legendary Def Jam recording artist Nas’s latest “untitled”LP. Stic.man is the CEO of Boss Up Inc and Dead Prez :: Ammo. Magazine :: BOSSUPBU.COM and has authored and co-published four books Warrior Names from Afrika, The Art Of Emcee-ing, Afrikan Martial Arts: Discovering The Warrior Within and most recently The Vegan Soulfood Guide to the Galaxy with his wife of 15 years Afya Ibomu. Stic.man is also featured in the film The Black Candle (Narrated By Maya Angelou). M1 is currently starring as the lead role in an independent film about the life of U.S. political prisoner Sundiata Acoli.