dead prez & DJ Green Lantern: A Beautiful Struggle

posted June 22, 2009 12:00:00 AM CDT | 28 comments

"If we dont get them, they gonna get us all / Im down for runnin up on them crackers in they city hall. Now that I have your attention we can speak on some dead prez. The veteran Hip Hop duo has managed to constantly say what was on their mind freely and have people of all kinds vibe with them. Labels might not like it, but listeners have shown they do. Nevertheless being a politically conscience group in an industry where it is overlooked is hard to come by. dead prez has been speaking about subjects such as healthy eating, living green and activism for years. The group has been known to burn money on the stage and I'm not talking about singles. With a new American President who stands for numerous things on many different levels, it seems only right to get the opinion of and M-1 on the Head of State. Just because a black man is president it doesnt mean that they have completed their thought. What do they hope the new President can bring to the table and how do they feel about what he's already done thus far?

Although the group has been pretty low key on the music radar for the past few years, they come back with a project for the people. The new album Pulse of the Poeple is collaboration between dead prez and DJ Green Lantern. Theyve all worked together before and this project is special because it proves that both parties still have the creativity to make powerful music that reaches many.We titled the album Pulse of the People because we have our ear to the ground. Were listening to the pulse of the people from the ground up -M-1.

HipHopDX: Being a politically conscience group, do you feel its harder to get your message across to people?
We [are] just doing what we feel. Who feels it, thats who its for. Its a grind like anything else. We been traveling. We just came from Scandinavia, Austria, Africa all over the world. Its a good response.
M-1: We [have] been blessed to have a runnin for a minute, ya know what I mean? We put out our first record [Let's Get Free] around 99-2000 and without any commercial kind of support from the industry, weve been able to feed off whats happening underground with the people. To answer your question directly, its not hard to get your message out when people are going through the same thing that youre talking about. So thats what we find. It might not be the same thing thats happening in musical space, but, its the same thing that is happening in every community in the world. We are fortunate enough to be able to tap into that.

DX: Would you say there werent that many obstacles for you, or you were focusing more on the people instead of being commercial?
I mean, how can I say this? You know, the music that we doing is the mainstream. A lot of people ain't sittin on Bentleys and shit like that. I dont feel like its not what people are going through. Everywhere we go we get support. We dont really see ourselves like political Rap. Everything is political, every part of life. We deal with politics in our music because thats part of life. A lot of people take that part out and want to play the fence. They dont wanna talk about certain political things. We talk about it because we know we got a platform. Hopefully, we can inspire people to rebel, to have hope, to get information, to get involved and get organized so its all apart of the process.
M-1: To add on to your question, because you said about the commercial and obstacles, when you intend to do what we intend to do, you recognize the obstacle before you even set out to do the plan. Yeah, there is a very huge obstacle in the way. The obstacle has nothing to do with the music industry, it has the same thing to do with the system that creates all of the industries. Not just the music industry, the entertainment industry as a whole, the education industry, the prison industry every industry is affected by the same system. We recognize that coming in. We intended to use our music to open up what people might think or might have heard about or want to know about and what we can learn from. Yes, thats a challenge. You take sacrifices to do that. I take sacrifice in the honor of people who did it like me. Political prisoners and O.G.S, riders, freedom fighters, they made me who I am, actually even gave me my name, so for me the challenge is beautiful. Actually, for me its a beautiful struggle.

DX: Since were getting political, how do you guys feel about the current Presidency?
What is it, number 44?
M-1: Thats symbolic, four-four babyI got my four-four too baby, whats good? Its the same shit, different face. I separate my analysis/critique on [Barack] Obama as the President right now from being personal. I have no personal issues with Obama as a man. I think hes charismatic, I think hes intelligent; hes a breath of fresh air in a lot of ways. I respect that hes got a family and yada-yada all day long. I can say that about Obama the man. Obama the President, 44th masta of U.S. imperialism, I look at his policies in the world. I look at the 3.2 billion dollars that his stimulus plan gave to the prison industry. I look at his double talk on different issues around the world when it comes to white power or Americanism. I see that too. What I think about the Presidency is that Obama has been selected at a crucial time when the system is in a crisis. When people already had their back to the wall and was ready for change, any kind of way and it was coming and brewing and people were fed up and seeing the okiedoke. Than along come this charismatic black man who put more faith in the system so the system could last a little longer. People would think that, Now were actually gonna get what we were supposed to have. I think its part of the okiedoke. Thats what I think.
M-1: Hell yeah. HipHopDX, if you ain't know lemme let you knowhe ain't the first black president. Im not talking about [John Hanson] who was head of that Continental Congress neither. Im talking about Fela Kuti, hes the black president, Fela Kuti. If you dont know, [research] Nigeria, matter of fact after Fela, "Martin Luther the King." Hes the first black president of the United-mothafuckin'-States. He was shot down and what you gonna do about it. What?

DX: What would you like to see accomplished by President Obama?
I would like to see him free all political prisoners and prisoners of war. I think symbolically, what that represents is an African struggle inside the United States that would be recognized as legitimate worldwide. It would recognize the genocide against African people in this country, if we even recognize it. Mumia Abu Jamal [click to read] is innocent, as far as Im concerned. This is a 30-something year old trial. Its not just about the death penalty, and this is my thing; Im sure the is gonna jump in real crazy, but, I start out by saying this: If we free all political prisoners and prisoners of war in the United States, prisoners of conscience, people who fought for black people freedom and justice and equality in this United States, it sends a symbol to the rest of the world that were ready for justice in the whole world. You know what I mean? Like I say off the back of Fred Hampton, Jr., son of slain Black Panther Party leader Fred Hampton, Sr.I say free them all. Free them all. Keep the hands off of our comrades out of U.S. borders. That sends the hugest kind of message towards the waiting African community worldwide who are waiting for justice, freedom and equality. I would love to see that happen. I really dont have any expectations for him. My mind doesnt even work like that really. I got expectations for the people and what were going to do. What he could do with his office is tell the truth. Expose the system for what it is. Reparations, investing in our communities, putting money, land resources, gold and kill all the laws that say mandatory minimum sentences. Theres so much work that he could do and thats what we thought he was going to be about, but, my faith is not there. My faith is in the power of the people. Based on his track record so far, I think hes trying to appease the white population and make sure they know hes safe. I mean more so than hes trying to work on getting justice to our struggle. If he does, Ill be the first one to say, "Hey I appreciate you."
M-1: Fo sho! So you got a lot of work to do, Obama. HipHopDX is watching you and even dead prez is watching you. The people is watching you. Obama, listen to this new Pulse of the People. Obama, put your ear to the ground and listen to the Pulse of the People. Listen to this Gangsta, Gangsta [click to listen] thats [quoting chorus] "gangsta, gangsta with a 'a' not an 'er,' feel me?

DX: Do you feel like you are rebels in an unspoken revolution?
Im definitely a rebel. Im just being true to self. Im a rebel to the systems, Im a rebel to they religions, rebel to they food recommendations, rebel to they schools and holidays, all that shit.
M-1: He spoke on the rebel part; Im going to speak on the unspoken revolution part. Our revolution is spoken. Its clearly laid out with clear points. It has international scope and national scope. Its not one that was born yesterday; it was born from years before I was even on the Earth. Im a part of it and I hope to assist it and aid it towards ending the relationship that weve had with this parasitic system for years and years. I know its hard to say this especially when Hip Hop dont say this type of shit. Realistically thats what were looking at right now. Were looking at the ability to end the relationship between the system that has been sucking the blood out of the black people for years. What does that mean? That means a new day on the plantation. That means shackles have come off. That means a new day for a spoken revolution. This revolution is spoken. dead prez has been a part of this and thats why were putting out Pulse of the People. Thats why were putting out Information Age, our next LP, were going to put out another piece as well. What we want to do is be able to popularize some of the sentiments that people dont often get to hear in the music. We wanna talk about what it means to be green in the hood. Not just what it means to be green for white people. Not Al Gore [click to read] green because of his Inconvenient Truth, because we need a convenience and truth of freedom. Its a convenient truth for us because we need it realistically. I want to speak it out loud and tell the world we here and we ain't going nowhere, dead prez for life.

DX: What do you guys think you have been most influential in accomplishing?
Surviving, staying out of jail, staying off dope, you know what I mean? It has to do with humility. I say humility, because if you dont talk to people you dont hear what they think. What I hear from people is that they say, Man I feel the same way, I dont have to feel like Im the only one. I think we turn people onto that revolutionary movement. It didnt die in the '60s and there are real niggas still here, still working - not to just be on the podium talking, but for our lifestyles. I think were trying to cut through some of the bullshit.

DX: What brought the collaboration between dead prez and DJ Green Lantern?
DJ Green Lantern:
How I look at my role in the Pulse of the People is to just provide the craziest sound-scapes for dead prez to be able to speak their mind. To be able to inspire them with the craziest music that I could possibly find in different areas and different chambers because they represent so many different things. Political revolutionary, "fuck the police," healthy eating, its all revolutionary in the general sense but theres all different areas for it and different types of music you can make. Its not all rah-rah guns blaring, but, we definitely appreciate that.

DX: How do you guys feel about the current state of Hip Hop?
I appreciate Hip Hop. I appreciate the energy. I appreciate the economic opportunities. I appreciate seeing our culture and just the swagger and the pride that people have for this music. A lot of times we criticize Hip Hop so much, we dont just appreciate that we have this art form. I want to see Hip Hop just be more under our control. The producers, the writers, the people who live this shit, I want to see us in charge and empowered by it that much more. More in control, more self determined and with it.
DJ Green Lantern: I think thats definitely happening more now too. With major labels shrinking down because the record sales are decreasing, they cant afford to pay this overhead. Its getting back to a more independent game. They have people that have foundation and fan bases that are independent brands like a dead prez. The list goes on and on and on, theres like five people who are strong names that are independent. Jim Jones [click to read] to Fat Joe [click to read], there are a bunch of people who can do things on their own, with no label clearances. Wait, hold on, I got to take the Jim Jones back he just signed [to Sony], but, the idea. The point is were moving towards the independent game and independence is always the best thing. Take your destiny into your own hands. Keep it creative. Were definitely not promoting one sound or one point of view, there is room for all types of music. Music is supposed to fit your life. Everything you do should have some music that you can resonate with.
DJ Green Lantern: I think that dead prez is like a rarity in the fact that they dont do things for the "money." I been walking around asking people this question, as they get on my radio show for an interview or something like that, and I ask, "Do you do what you do for the love of doing it, like what made you first start doing it, or do you do it for the money?" Nine times out of 10, if youre doing what you do for the moneyyour art is wack and it is going to suffer. Youre not going to move forward and its not going to be anything that anybody is going to look at years later. I feel that thats another way that Im proud to be on this project because these guys represent integrity, musical integrity and thats what I like to be involved with. Anything is genuine, but I feel like this day and age we have a lot of creativity come in to the game based on the fact that the record sales are lower. Its opening up another lane for artists to be creative again. A lot of the crop of the new young dudes is really creative in comparison to the last five-to-eight years, when everyone had to be one or two stereotypes. In that sense, I got a lot of hope for Hip Hop. I love all of the new guys that are coming with new flavor and new lanes and all that. Asher Roth [click to read] is like, "Im a crazy college kid that does bong rips and drinks out of a keg and [likes] pancakes and flip flops." I Dig that.

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