Study Guide

Hip-Hop Technique

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  • Calling Card

    "I don't like to call it Conscious Rap because that's a label that did not come from the art-form. What we did was Hip Hop, that's what we did and that's what we do. We do Hip Hop. Hip Hop from the perspective of the streets, Hip Hop from the consciousness movement and we are still fighting those stigmas that still divide and conquer our culture into genres and categories that make us not realize that we need all of it and not some of it."
    — (Source)

    Dead Prez are self-identified revolutionaries and members of the international Black socialist movement, but they're insistently anti-purist. 

    Nowhere is this sentiment more clear than in "Hip-Hop." The track is as much about fun and bass as it is about politics and the music industry. And even where they criticize, they also forgive. Their goal isn't to bash all commercial hip-hop or totally separate themselves from it—but they call things how they see them. This is their "Revolutionary But Gangsta" identity in formation, which is an identity that clearly embraces multiples identities. Dead Prez isn't all about guns and pimping, but "Hip-Hop" is a great example of how they also avoid channeling all that energy into bashing rappers who portray a different reality. 

    Nothing is so clear-cut that it can't be questioned, and Dead Prez questions commercialism without taking a purist stance. The issues they're talking about, they say, are even bigger than hip-hop.

    "Nothing is absolutely evil or absolutely good" asserted in 2010, commemorating the tenth anniversary of Let's Get Free and "Hip-Hop." "Things are relative and I think that commercial means that it's popular amongst a lot of people. Like Horror movies are commercial, that doesn't mean it's a positive message, but for whatever reason, it's popular. If you can show a love story or a death story and have a lot of people relate to it, I think that's a positive commercial use. If we paint ourselves into a corner of this good vs. evil idea, I think that causes people not to think through things. I think for dead prez, we're definitely about pimping the situation and not pimping ourselves." (Source)

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