When you think of conscious hip-hop visions of The Roots, Common and Mos Def spring to mind with their soulful organic beats and insightful lyrics. Dead Prez on the other hand take those political lyrics, turn up the amplifiers and make riotous music.
The gig reflected this, one of the rowdiest hip-hop shows I have been to in while, and when they played Its Bigger Than Hip-Hop near the end, oh my days, Koko was nearly torn in two! New similarly supercharged songs such as Close To The Edge also invoked near pandemonium.
One thing about Dead Prez, is they can talk; Viva la Revolution… Fuck Obama. Yes, Fuck Obama. I thought only the Republicans were into Obama bashing, well Dead Prez are too, blaming him for anything and everything… they even had a song for it.
At one moment their ideology went, in my opinion, too far when they asked who had been to the shooting range, telling us to grab guns, and get into training. Happily, we didn’t stand for this bullshit and it was met by near silence – this isn’t the wild fucking west mate, and you’re not talking to some inbreds. Good thing is they learned their lesson and toned the gun talk down after that.
Old school songs such as They Schools and Discipline showed the side of Dead Prez we all love, the latter evoking a sing-a-long that would do any karaoke contest proud. Their messages of mental and physical wellbeing remain pertinent.
Near the end of the set a Palestinian MC (apologies because I forgot her name – gig was a little too rowdy to reach for my notebook) gave a little talk about hip-hop in Palestine. Despite raising spontaneous chants of “Free Free Palenstine,” what could have been a magical moment was a missed opportunity because she did not perform with Dead Prez (and spoke for a little bit too long so her powerful message became a little diluted).
The gig closed with a rendition of, no sing-a-long to Al Green’s (yes Al Green) Lets Stay Together. No one could have seen it coming, I still cannot believe I saw Dead Prez and they dropped Al Green.
Overall, it was a very good show, raucous and political with basslines that made Koko literally shake. However, the misplaced ideologies put a dampener on a night where the true diversity of Hip-Hop should have been the only thing to shine through.