London Ladbroke Grove Subterania

...[a]Dead Prez[/a] avoid getting swallowed whole, puried and ground into a pulp by the multi-headed corporate machine...

The hardest trials and tribulations can often be blessings as well. So it is that Florida revolutionaries Dead Prez have their trusty Digital Audio Tape, with backing tracks for the show, confiscated at UK Customs. And what should be disastrous is actually an uplifting, if shortened display, of real hip-hop, as and M-1 are forced to rhyme over vinyl instrumentals of their tracks, the way it used to be.

There's nothing retrogressive, however, about Dead Prez's amped-up music; sharp, of the moment, and determined to gestate seeds for the future. This is agenda rap, complete with a slideshow of heroic figures. So the pointed musical hand grenades of 'Police State' are extra-topical in the light of recent New York City slayings of unarmed ghetto defendants, while ''They' Schools' criticises an education system that fails to solve real ghetto woes.

It's clear, throughout, Dead Prez approach things their own way: 'Be Healthy' advocates lifestyle revolution, while 'Mind Sex' offers a pointed contradiction to the usual hip-hop seduction techniques. A dedication to political prisoners and a declaration that and M-1 are not, repeat not, Public Enemy completes the evening. Different solutions for the same problem in different times, maybe...

But, how will Dead Prez avoid getting swallowed whole, puried and ground into a pulp by the multi-headed corporate machine? And how far are they prepared to go for real freedom? Who knows: this fire-starting music is but one step.

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