In a Nutshell
In 1989, some warned that hip-hop would soon be overcome by its own growing commercialism and that rappers' integrity would be eaten alive.
In 1999, some bemoaned that exact development: the worst, they said, had come to pass!
There was much wailing and gnashing of teeth over the state of the genre: Was rap too violent? Too street? Not street enough? Not "real" enough? Too "real"?
It's enough to make your head spin, but for rappers M-1 and Stic-Man of Dead Prez, the state of the industry was cause for inspiration, not desparation. In 2000, they released Let's Get Free
, a hard-banging debut album that embraced every shred of proud hip-hop history while also advocating a politically militant, anti-commercial future for the music (and for the people).
"Hip-Hop" (also known by the title of its Kanye West-remixed alternate version, "It's Bigger Than Hip-Hop") served up revolutionary lyrics over a danceable beat while calling on fans to demand something more from their music than the larger-than-life flossiness usually found in rap videos:Would you rather have a Lexus or justice?
A dream or some substance?
A Beemer, a necklace, or freedom?
About the Song
||Musician(s)||Dead Prez (vocals), Hedrush (drum programming), Doug Wilson (mixing)
|Album||Let's Get Free|
|Year||1999 (single), 2000 (album)|
|Writer(s)||M-1 (Mutulu Olugbala/Lavon Alford), stic.man (Clayton Gavin), V. Williams, A. Mair|
Explore the ways this song connects with the world and with other topics on Shmoop
and rock and roll
are played out, say Stic-Man and M-1 of Dead Prez. Fame and ego
are sort of boring, too.
Guess what's hot now? Youth revolution, they say.
For followers of Dead Prez's brand of radical black socialism
, Let's Get Free
was the political soundtrack of the year 2000, a musical manifesto for a new millennium of righteous rap culture. "Hip-Hop" was just the beginning: in case you didn't get the memo (or the chorus), what Dead Prez is all about is actually bigger than that…
On the Charts
Let's Get Free
peaked at #78 on the Billboard 200 and #22 on the R&B/Hip-Hop Albums Chart in 2000.
"Hip-Hop" and "It's Bigger Than Hip-Hop" (a remix) were the album's two most popular tracks, but they never charted. "Hip-Hop" made its name later on as the entrance theme song for the Dave Chappelle Show.