Dead Prez: Uhuru hip hop

November 22, 2000


Let's Get Free
By Dead Prez
Loud Records
Ordering details at <>

You could be forgiven for thinking that hip hop nowadays is all about flashy cars, big guns, scantily clad women and men standing about like a soccer player defending a free kick. Hip hop has taken over middle America. Throughout the country, you'll find white boys in huge trousers and baseball caps, trying to live the "gangsta" lifestyle.

More and more bands rap homophobic, sexist and just downright crap lyrics. The "frat boys" of US colleges have taken these bands on as their own. The media portrayal of hip hop is that it is just party music, while blatantly ignoring anything with a political message.

But if you scrape away the glossy commercial top off hip hop, you can still find bands willing to make a stand and talk about issues rather than who's got the shiniest beamer. While Eminem is spouting about which boy band he hates most or Puff Daddy pontificates about absolutely nothing, bands like Dead Prez are talking about the need for "a socialist economy", and joining forces with Mos Def and the Roots to raise people's consciousness about miscarriages of justice.

Dead Prez raps about issues like racism, police murders and the failed education system. Their debut album, Let's Get Free, released earlier this year, describes what it is like being black in the US and extols the need to organise communities, the importance of learning socialist theory and the need to replace capitalism with socialism. Not your normal album.

Dead Prez are also not your normal rappers. They are active members and organisers for the Uhuru (freedom) Movement and its political wing, the African Peoples Socialist Party (APSP). They're on record as only rapping so they can travel and build the APSP. They have a song on the album about Fred Hampton Jnr (son of Panther Fred Hampton), the Chicago organiser of the APSP, who was framed by the police for an arson attack that even the fire brigade admitted didn't happen.

Dead Prez, with Mos Def, have also done a series of concerts to demand the release of Mumia Abu-Jamal. The band campaigns for the abolition of the death penalty. So if you like your hip hop with a hard socialist edge keep your eyes peeled for Let's Get Free.

[From Scottish Socialist Voice.]

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