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M1 of Dead Prez

The Rapper Behind the Politics

Dead Prez has been on a mission to promote political action and social change through music since the duo's debut release 2000's Let's Get Free."After releasing another album in 2004, M1 has taken a break from working with his partner to record and release his first solo album. The album, Confidential, hits stores March 21st.

M1 spoke with SFStation during a phone interview from the road in Kansas. He comes to San Francisco March 24th with Ghostface of Wu-Tang Clan during the "Fishscale Tour" stop at Mezzanine.

SF Station (SFS): Do you ever feel like stretching your legs and making music that is not so political?

M1: Of course, I definitely feel like that and I did do that somewhat with this album. It wasn't a conscious effort until I started realizing that as an artist I have a whole lot of other stuff in me that I want to get out. However, it is relative politically too. What I do is all relative to the same struggle. It's not like I'm going to abandon the ideas that I've been working with all my life.

Realistically, the album just brings you up to date to who M1 is in Dead Prez. It gives you that point of view and the point of view of someone who has matured politically, who is ready to try different strategies. The ideology is still the same, but you have to keep trying to crack that code any way possible.

SFS: You've worked with a lot of established and aspiring hip-hop artists in other countries. What kind of insight has that given you?

M1: Something a lot of artists in the U.S. have not begun to figure out yet is how important we are to hip hop in communities around the world. But, I do know that and that's the reason why I make my music the way I make it. You're totally correct if you assume that affected my new album, I made it from a global perspective.

SFS: Do you think hip hop has had a positive affect on the world community?

M1: Hip hop as a culture, yes; as a capitalized commodity, no. It has sold capitalist products around the world, but the culture has inspired young artists to speak for themselves in their own native communities. That is what hip hop has done in the places it has done the best work.

It has done the most damage when you see things like the installation of MTV Africa. That is hip hop doing its dirty work to propagandize in Africa and get it ready for the continual rape of not only the land and resources, but the rest of the culture.

SFS: So, how do fit into the whole scheme of things? They are playing your new video on MTV now and it's a part of that system.

M1: It definitely is a part of that system. The problem with Dead Prez is that we have been one foot in and one foot out of the system for so long. It has never been to any benefit of Dead Prez, but totally to the benefit of the system. Some people have accused Sony Records of signing Dead Prez only to shelf us so they could be able to silence a group like us.

I know the double-edged sword that is to work in the system. The problem is the system will give you enough rope to hang yourself. They'll play a video like "'Till We Get There", and I don't care about anyway you slice it, the video, the concept and the song itself is good for my people no matter where you hear it.

SFS: You are on the road now with Ghostface of Wu-Tang Clan. How did you link up with him?

M1: Ghostface is my homie. I've been linked up with Ghostface since, like, 1997. He's kind of someone that we see an alignment with, even if it doesn't come out in his music so much. I had an idea for a song on this album, and I asked him to get on it. It worked, so there it is.

SFS: Are we going to see any M1, Ghostface collaborations on stage or are you both sticking to separate sets?

M1: We are doing separate sets as of right now, but I think you are going to see that in the future.

M1 performs at Mezzanine with Ghostface Killah March 24th, tickets are $20 in advance.