Dead Prez is the pair of politically militant rappers, Stic.Man and M-1. They have become known for their hard-hitting style and socialist lyrics, focusing on anti-racism, anti-capitalism, critical pedagogy, as well as activism against social injustice and corporate control over the media (especially hip-hop record labels.)
In 1990, M-1 headed to Tallahassee to attend FAMU (Florida Agricultural and Mechanical University) where he and Sticman met and connected due to their mutual love of music and knowledge. "I was soaking up the Black Panther Party as a whole," M-1 remembers. "I learned about their lives and it helped mold me."
"I realized there's a struggle already going on and I have to try to help ride it out," interjects Stic.man. M-1's quest for insight led him to join the International Democratic People's Uhuru Movement (InPDUM) in Chicago for three years while Stic.man remained behind in Florida and started getting into trouble. Burned out by the arduous labor of Uhuru, M-1 decided it was time to do that music thing and Stic.man agreed.
Dead Prez transcribed the leftist political education they acquired into lyrical poetry. Brand Nubian's Lord Jamar discovered them in New York and helped them sign a deal with Loud Records. But being the new kids on the block of a powerhouse label like Loud (home to the Wu-Tang Clan and Mobb Deep) wasn't easy. dead prez wasn't always Loud's priority but that didn't stop them from building a fan base around their over-the-top performances. (They've been known to ignite dollar bills and toss apples into the audiences, declaring they eat healthy).
Their debut album was Let's Get Free, which had a minor hit with the song "Hip-Hop" the year before. The album was critically well-received, and included intense political diatribes featuring prominent black revolutionary Omali Yeshitela, as well as "Animal in Man," a retelling of George Orwell's Animal Farm. Some argue that Let's Get Free is one of the most influential albums in rap. In 2001 they collaborated with The Coup, another politically active hip-hop outfit, to release Get Up. In 2002, Dead Prez released the independent mix tape Turn Off the Radio Volume 1, followed by the release of Turn Off The Radio volume 2: Get Free Or Die Tryin' in 2003. In 2004, Columbia Records finally released RBG: Revolutionary But Gangsta.