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Dead Prez is the pair of politically militant rappers, Stic.Man and M-1. They have become known for their hard-hitting style and socialist lyrics, focusing on anti-racism, anti-capitalism, critical pedagogy, as well as activism against social injustice and corporate control over the media (especially hip-hop record labels.)
In 1990, M-1 headed to Tallahassee to attend FAMU (Florida Agricultural and Mechanical University) where he and Sticman met and connected due to their mutual love of music and knowledge. "I was soaking up the Black Panther Party as a whole," M-1 remembers. "I learned about their lives and it helped mold me."
"I realized there's a struggle already going on and I have to try to help ride it out," interjects Stic.man. M-1's quest for insight led him to join the International Democratic People's Uhuru Movement (InPDUM) in Chicago for three years while Stic.man remained behind in Florida and started getting into trouble. Burned out by the arduous labor of Uhuru, M-1 decided it was time to do that music thing and Stic.man agreed.
Dead Prez transcribed the leftist political education they acquired into lyrical poetry. Brand Nubian's Lord Jamar discovered them in New York and helped them sign a deal with Loud Records. But being the new kids on the block of a powerhouse label like Loud (home to the Wu-Tang Clan and Mobb Deep) wasn't easy. dead prez wasn't always Loud's priority but that didn't stop them from building a fan base around their over-the-top performances. (They've been known to ignite dollar bills and toss apples into the audiences, declaring they eat healthy).
Their debut album was Let's Get Free, which had a minor hit with the song "Hip-Hop" the year before. The album was critically well-received, and included intense political diatribes featuring prominent black revolutionary Omali Yeshitela, as well as "Animal in Man," a retelling of George Orwell's Animal Farm. Some argue that Let's Get Free is one of the most influential albums in rap. In 2001 they collaborated with The Coup, another politically active hip-hop outfit, to release Get Up. In 2002, Dead Prez released the independent mix tape Turn Off the Radio Volume 1, followed by the release of Turn Off The Radio volume 2: Get Free Or Die Tryin' in 2003. In 2004, Columbia Records finally released RBG: Revolutionary But Gangsta.
M-1 has released a solo record featuring among others Styles P and Ghostface Killah.
In 2007, Dead Prez was featured on Patriarch's debut album Son Of A Refugee on the ferocious "Don't Let Em'".
shirlette is a Durham, NC-based musician whose sophomore solo album, Language Barrier was co-released by SugarQube Records and Churchkey Records in February 2016. The album features guest appearances by The Indigo Girls, Meshell Ndegeocello, Amelia Meath (Sylvan Esso), Hiss Golden Messenger, Median (The Foreign Exchange), Heather McEntire (Mount Moriah), Phil Cook, and Jocelyn Ellis with musical compositions by Daniel Hart (St. Vincent, Broken Social Scene).
shirlette’s first solo album, Twilight For Gladys Bentley, was released in 2012 by Springstoff Records (Berlin, Germany) and is a ‘re-imagining,’ of 1920′s blues singer, Gladys Bentley. shirlette has toured throughout Germany, Austria, Switzerland, and the US in support of the work. In 2012, shirlette travelled to Belgrade and Novi Sad, Serbia with Next Level Program, a collaborative international exchange program that engages underserved communities in various countries around the world and uses artistic collaboration and social engagement to enhance people-to-people diplomacy, especially among young audiences. Using multi-disciplinary hip hop collaborations, this unique arts-based exchange explores and addresses conflict resolution strategies by sending up to 20 American beat makers, DJs, B-Boys/B-Girls (or experts of other types of hip hop dance), or MCs in teams of 5 artists to lead four- to six-week exchange programs in various countries.
shirlette’s past works include a 2011 release with Chapel Hill based rock band, The Dynamite Brothers called And Lover’s Like. The album includes guest appearances from Justin Robinson (formerly of The Carolina Chocolate Drops), Kelly Crisp (The Rosebuds), Juan Huevos, Greg Humphreys, Yahzarah, Jocelyn Ellis, and Pierce Freelon. Her most recent collection of poetry, Matching Skin featuring The John Anonymous EP was published by Carolina Wren Press in 2008. Shirlette’s first collection entitled Stumphole: Aunthology of Backwoods Blood was published by Big Drum Press in 2002. Her literary work has appeared in The Ringing Ear: Black Poets Lean South, What Your Momma Never Tod You: True Stories About Love and Sex, The Asheville Revielw and The Journal of the Academy of American Poets amongst other publications. She has recieved a John Hope Franklin Grant for Documentary Studies, The Ebony Harlem Award for Literary Achievement, as well as Emerging Artist Grants from the Durham Arts COuncil and the United Arts Council. She is also vocalist for the hip hop rock band Mosadi Music whose debut album, The Window, was released in 2006 and songwriter and vocalist for the fusion electronic duo, Jon Anonymous. As a freelance writer, Shirlette has contributed to The Independent Weekly and Duke Performance’s Blog, The Thread. Shirlette resides and creates in Durham, North Carolina. with Shirlette Ammons