Zachary Cole Smith has overcome a multitude of problems to make this intensely powerful album
Dead Prez Hip Hop(Epic)
Hip Hop (Epic)
There's not much to it. There's the sound of a radio being tuned, of frequencies
a-changing. Some edgy breaks come in, and a bassline wraps itself round your insides like a guilty conscience. And then two guys, M-1 and Stic-man, originally from Florida, transposed to Brooklyn, start rapping about what's around them. Just like back in the day.
But 'Hip Hop' is a whole lot more. It's a cranked-up critique of contemporary hip-hop that you can punch the air to, a barrage of charged and righteous rhymes about the "smoke and mirrors" of black fame. Located somewhere between Public Enemy and 'What's Going On', it's concerned with how hip-hop - once a music of protest - somehow became all about bitches and money, the vacuous preserve of a few mega-paid playas consuming more conspicuously than Henry VIII. M1 and Stic might have been activists before they were rappers but 'Hip Hop' doesn't feel like a lecture, more like a party with a secret rendezvous for revolutionaries in the basement. Wicked, then, meaning on the side of the angels.
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