Dead Prez - Sankey's Soap - 2.5.06
Designer Magazine arrives at the Academy at 7pm to see the first UK show in 5 years from the revolutionary vanguards known as Dead Prez. It's a fruitless mission as we find it's been moved across the city to Sankey's and the stage time has been knocked back to the early hours of the morning. Cue us at 6am the next morning staggering back on the first train home,
debauched but politicized, in a state fit to do sweet FA but with a fire in our bellies and a desire to change the world.
We saw Dead Prez's first ever UK show back in 2000, a low key hip hop club in the outskirts of London. Little has changed since in terms of their profile, but the story has become one of the most fascinating tales of the recent periods of hip hop. Signed to Sony Records their first album was and still is one of the most uncompromising politically charged albums of all time, they made Rage Against the Machine look like a Sixth form debating team, and the single that this tour is named after "Bigger Than Hip Hop" was still commercially savvy enough to pick up constant play on MTV and even Westwood. In the interim period problems meant their second album took about 12 months from completion to release and shortly after they left major label and are said to releasing material on Guerilla Funk.
Tonight's audience are a melange between a select few hardcore Dead Prez fans, the supporters of Love Music Hate Racism and those that just want to hear some banging hip hop joints from a supporting cast including Blak Twang. For a band whose second album never really sold any units or received much of a media presence the band connect with the crowd as soon as they hit the stage. Bouncing between the old skool soundscape of the 1st album "Lets Get Free" and the grimy grittier second album "Revolutionary But Gangsta".
Talking about the white washing of the school system on "They Schools", re-iterate the healthy body healthy mind philosophy on "Be Healthy" and remind white American of the reparations on "We want Freedom". Scattering inbetween these classics are tracks like "Hell Yeah", "50 In the Clip" and "Don't Forget Where You're Going" from the grittier second album. RBG standing officially for Revolutionary But Gangsta, or Red Black Green under the flag of an African sky not an American one they wind the audience up with talk of real black girls, "there's too many white girls in here", they get jeered and perhaps have missed the concept of Love Music Hate Racism a little as we're supposed to be working together fighting the son of a Bush.
When they launch into the pulverizing bass quaking rumble of "Hip Hop" the room is turned into a frenzied punk beast that wipes the floor with Lethal Bizzie's "Pow", and is still as revolutionary as when it was first released. If crunk got a conscience this is how it would sound.
Perhaps Dead Prez were never meant to take over the world, and maybe the legal wranglings were a deliberate attempt by the higher powers to stop their rise. There remains one fact and certainty though - that Dead Prez's message is stronger and more relevant than ever
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