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RBG: Revolutionary But Gangsta

Dead Prez

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Album Review

Though their methods aren't subtle, Dead Prez are as intelligent and philosophical a group of social activists as Public Enemy or Boogie Down Productions — it's just that their philosophies stray more to the Geto Boys style of extreme criminal fantasies. RBG stands for Revolutionary But Gangsta, a stance that the Dead Prez duo Stic and M1 back up with tale after lurid tale of inner-city life. They're showing their listeners how to strive and how to survive, whether it means scamming welfare or credit cards for all they're worth ("Hell Yeah [Pimp the System]"), decrying the messages of commercial radio ("Radio Freq"), or dreaming of responding to organized violence with a police-station drive-by. They're not without a sense of humor ("F***ed Up" is a cautionary alcoholic's tale that prompts the line, "Let's make a toast to my liver and my kidneys"), but without clear lines between fact and fantasy, it's impossible to tell where the group is attempting to educate and where they're attempting to entertain. (Chuck D and KRS-One knew well not to confront their listeners with every track they wrote.) Jay-Z stops by for a rhyme on a remix of "Hell Yeah (Pimp the System)," but even he sounds constrained (and understandably so) by the subject matter.

Biography

Formed: Tallahassee, FL

Genre: Hip-Hop/Rap

Years Active: '90s, '00s, '10s

The Florida-based political rap duo Dead Prez consists of Stic.man and M-1, a pair of rappers inspired by revolutionaries from Malcolm X to Public Enemy. They immersed themselves in political and social studies as they forged their own style of hip-hop. They went on to work with Big Punisher on his 1998 album Capital Punishment and released singles like 1998's "Police State with Chairman Omali" and 1999's "It's Bigger Than Hip-Hop." Their debut album, Lets Get Free, was released in early 2000. A...
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RBG: Revolutionary But Gangsta, Dead Prez
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