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NON-STOP HIP-HOP: Back to the scene of the rhyme

Dead Prez comes back to Oly for two shows this week

DEAD PREZ: Revolutionaries/photo courtesy of 2UBARI2008

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The legend of immortalized hip-hop revolutionaries Dead Prez spans more than a decade. Voices of vision, afro-centricity, revolution and healthy eating, Dead Prez has always been just under the radar in terms of popular success.  Even today, they're synonymous with power, motivation, empowerment and forward thinking (revolutionary but gangsta, of course). 

But one need only rewind two-and-a half years to the loving holiday of St. Valentine's to recall the indelible mark Dead Prez have made upon the Puget Sound and specifically the City of Olympia and The Evergreen State College.

Obvious to anyone who cares to read (even a teensy bit), Dead Prez was scapegoated as the catalyst in what has come to be known as The St. Valentine's Day Riot, a confrontation between Dead Prez concertgoers and police at Evergreen - the nationally renown liberal arts school.  However, there is more to Dead Prez than this incident when it comes their place in hip-hop and their relevance to politics and bullshit. 

During the current era of hip-hop's short history, wherein bling, partying, panty-dropping, pimpin' and hoein' are the dominant subject matters of the day, Dead Prez continues on a path of thinking, acting and marching in a revolutionary fashion. Gone are the days when Public Enemy, N.W.A., Jungle Brothers, The Native Tongues, X-Clan, KRS-One and Criminal Nation dominated hip-hop charts with visionary bravados, messages of positive upliftment and Black Power.  The lone wolves remaining in this arena (on a large scale) are arguably Immortal Technique, KRS-One, NYOil and, of course, Dead Prez.

"Dead Prez make a difference in hip-hop and made me stand up and take notice about ten years ago," explains Afrok, who shares a bill with Dead Prez Friday in Olympia.

"(Dead Prez) is a part of an era where consciousness and pro-Black messages aren't there? They still speak and rap the messages that have died out, and we need Dead Prez in hip-hop now more than before."

Afrok's sentiments resonate in the voices and thoughts of many who do not have his platform.  Others, like the CIA and FBI (almost surely) don't agree. Dead Prez is a voice of threat and violence to many; and visionaries of socialism/communism and freedom to others. To revolutionaries, these associations must be seen as badges of honor and simultaneously false appropriations. The heroic Black Panthers, Brown Berets, Malcolm X, Martin Luther King Jr., Mumia Abu-Jamal, Leonard Peltier, Roberto Clemente and countless other sacrificial lambs in the name of improving life for people of color in the United States and beyond were also affixed with the designation of enemies of the state. These people are at the root of Dead Prez's lineage.

Clearly with Dead Prez you are attending more than a hip-hop show.  You are receiving a history lesson, a demonstration of political philosophy: hip-hop from the streets to the classroom and a vision of what it means to be revolutionary. But gangsta.

Dead Prez

with Afrok, Sista Hailstorm, Save Family, DJ B-Girl
Friday, Sept. 10, 8 p.m., cover TBA
The Vault, 425 Franklin St. SE, Olympia

with Militant Child, Language Arts, DJ B-Girl
Saturday, Sept. 11, 8 p.m., cover TBA
The Loft on Cherry, 508 Legion Way, Olympia

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