A decade into their career, Dead Prez show no signs of complacency. They've seen their share of critical acclaim and recognition, but instead of delivering lyrics about money, hos, and clothes the way most gangsta rappers do, emcees m-1 and stic.man still keep their focus on the issues of the hood. The New York duo teamed up with Philadelphia's DJ Drama to release the mixtape Revolutionary but Gangsta Grillz, marrying their lyrical penchant for militant social justice with remixed tracks by artists as diverse as Dr. Dre and Pat Benatar.
These rappers' definitive gangsta rap posture and vocabulary doesn't target turf wars or rival gangs; instead they aim at the system they feel keeps them on the streets. "We ten years deep, still real, still eatin'/still middle finger to the police and still mean it," they claim on "Far From Over." They tackle racial oppression, capitalism, and dead-end politics elsewhere on the album. Their violently radical, pan-African message may feel out of place when delivered to a predominantly white Missoula audience at the Top Hat Friday, but it's a safe bet that when hip hop is delivered this well, most hands will be in the air.
Dead Prez plays the Top Hat Friday, April 29, at 10 PM with Tonsofun, Shaymlusly Elliterate, Ambidext, Koshir, and DJ Aaron Traylor. $25/$20 advance.