I must confess, I only ever really listened to their first brilliant and defiant album Let’s Get Free (2000), but Dead Prez have produced a lot more material since then; as a duo, individually and collaboratively. Unaware of quite how vast their joint back catalogue is, I was expecting their setlist to consist mainly of tracks from Let’s Get Free, but actually they only played a few and the rest was a mixture of stuff from their later albums and solo projects.
Support came courtesy of Parallax (who I missed) and Along Came Shifty, an 8-piece Brighton outfit, most notable for their ginger-haired, female vocalist. The headliners began with DJ Mikeflo, adorned with tattoos all over one side of his face, throwing 3 oranges into the excitable Saturday night crowd! Not your average freebie, but representative of the healthy-living ethos expounded by DP, exemplified on the track Be Healthy. After playing a few tracks on the decks to warm us up, M-1 and Stic.man bounded on to the stage, the former in a Dave Chapelle hoodie (I want one!) and both wearing combat trousers, reflecting their militant tendencies.
After several tracks, M-1 gave ‘kudos’ to the soundman, complementing the sound quality, which was noticeably crisper and clearer, exploiting to the full his flawless, fast flow and Stic.man’s slower, softer rap style. I also thought the lighting was better than usual, so ‘kudos’ to the lighting man also and well done Concorde 2 for upgrading! Tracks from the second album RBG: Revolutionary But Gangsta (2004), included W-4 and Hell Yeah (Pimp the System). They did two remixes; Luniz I Got 5 On It and Liberation by Outkast, tacked neatly on to the end of $timulus Plan. They also played one of my all-time favourites, Mind Sex, complete with an introduction about how they respect ladies as comrades, soldiers and equals (a refreshing change to the portrayal of women as ‘bitches and ho’s’ in mainstream hip hop) and an outro full of sexual innuendo.
Then came the one we’d all be waiting for, the seminal Hip Hop, which practically blew the roof off from the first Bob Marley inspired bar: “One thing about music, when it hits you feel no pain!” Needless to say, the crowd went mental, arms flailing everywhere, drinks flying through the air (some of which landed on me!) and chanting the chorus at the top of their voices: “it’s bigger than hip hop, hip hop, hip hop!”
They then took it downtempo with No Way As The Way from Information Age (2012), followed by some of their solo material. Stic.man performed a never-heard-before track from his forthcoming album, The Workout 2. M-1 then performed Real Revolutionaries; his collaboration with Bonnot and General Levy from AP2P (All Power To the People), which samples Bob Marley’s Zimbabwe. DP have previously collaborated with Stephen Marley on Dem Crazy and M-1 gave a shout out to all the Marley children. He also mentioned the struggle of Palestinians and Mexicans today, showing they remain politically aware and engaged. The two members seemed to have a genuine respect and love for each other’s solo projects, which was nice to see.
DJ Mikeflo came out from behind the DJ booth for the last track Fuck the Police, climbing on the speakers with a slightly crazed look in his eyes! They finished up by taking a ‘grand selfie’ from the stage, with the audience in the background. I’d like to see it on the web at some point. They left Don’t Stop playing on the decks, as M-1 shook hands with people in the crowd. But unfortunately they did stop and didn’t come back for a requested encore, leaving us Shuffering and Shmiling.