© 2016 Shmoop University, Inc. All rights reserved.



by Dead Prez

Hip-Hop Introduction

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

ArtistDead Prez Musician(s)Dead Prez (vocals), Hedrush (drum programming), Doug Wilson (mixing)
AlbumLet's Get Free
Year1999 (single), 2000 (album)
LabelLoud Records
Writer(s)M-1 (Mutulu Olugbala/Lavon Alford), stic.man (Clayton Gavin), V. Williams, A. Mair
Producer(s)Dead Prez
Learn to play: Tablature
Buy this song: Amazon iTunes
Try Listen and Learn (BETA)

Shmoop Connections

Explore the ways this song connects with the world and with other topics on Shmoop
Sex, drugs 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.

People who Shmooped this also Shmooped...