dead prez is one of the most abrasive acts coming out of Rap music. Their album covers feature bandanas and music videos that play out like the nightmares of White America. Those still unfamiliar with the group might recognize their music from the bass-heavy anthem “It’s Bigger Than Hip Hop” used to open up “Chappelle’s Show.” Yes, it was and still is one of the hardest beats in Hip Hop history, and it came from dead prez!
But when you listen to the revolutionary-but-gangsta duo’s Information Age, all that aggression is gone, production-wise at least. The whimsical synths that rise and drift on the album’s first song “A New Beginning” conjure up images of low-budget karaoke videos. Play the following song, “What if the Lights Go Out?” and you have an excuse to close your eyes and let rain fall on you. The production goes on like this until the driving drum patterns level out for some “Mind Sex” level mellowness; except the drums on “Mind Sex” might’ve been harder.
But what’s even more surprising is that Information Age still manages to sound pretty good.
If you couldn’t tell from their flow patterns and choruses on past records, stic.man and M1 are more than just rappers, they know how to make songs. The aforementioned tracks still retain positive and thought-provoking messages, it’s just packaged differently. Aside from the ultra-cheesy “Intelligence is Sexy”, the hooks on these songs are catchy and work as a soothing buffer to sum up the heavier lyrics that precede and follow them the same way songs like “Turn Off the Radio” did.
Some might argue DPz have watered their lyrics down. And in some cases, it rings true as the group seems more focused on riding the beat, particularly when it gets dance-heavy. But the honest lessons are there on tracks like “No Way As the Way”, and healthy living is still a theme on the anti-drug anthem “Dirty White Girl,” and so forth. It’s still dead prez. Again, just packaged a little differently this time.
On their first, full studio album in eight years, dead prez did what they set out to do. The Information Age is a timely concept and the group brought it to life, sonically and lyrically. If you want the old dead prez sound, buy their old albums.