Lady A.i. hooks up with stic.man from the legendary underground Hip-Hop group Dead Prez. In 2007 they appeared on the critically acclaimed – Dave Chappelle’s Block Party alongside The Roots, Erykah Badu, Jill Scott and the then newly reformed (though short-lived) Fugees.
The duo has been together since the early 90’s and has released eight albums*. Dead Prez lead the way when it comes to that deep Hip-Hop, that lets you know exactly how it’s going down in politics, family life, the ghetto, the system and the mind.
A.i.: Welcome to britishhiphop.co.uk…
stic.man: Thank you.
A.i.: I’ve spoken to a lot of people about Dead Prez and what you represent. Views tend to vary dramatically from those who love what you do and believe strongly in your message to those who feel / think that your message is somewhat racist – what say you to the naysayers who think you‘re racist?
stic.man: I don’t know their definition of what racist is. I just don’t want Black people to be under the oppression of any racist system. I have no hate towards anyone; I just hate oppression and hate the reality of the world. So I’m not gonna waste any energy on those people who wanna say we racist.
A.i.: What part of Africa is M-1 from?
stic.man: Well he’s African by descent as all black people are; as far as birth he was born in Jamaica.
A.i.: Independent vs. Major – what's your opinion?
stic.man: Independents equals a better integrity. Majors have their pros, but the cons make the pros bait. As a guerrilla our mind state must be how can I get over this situation? Ultimately you wanna have independence, but have major type success as an independent.
A.i.: Can you explain to readers what BossUp Inc. is about?
stic.man: Boss Up Inc. puts economic development into our own hands, so instead of being an artist always waiting on the label, we in control of ours. Marcus Garvey said we should be self determining. My intent with Boss Up Inc. is not to be Hollywood; it’s to be economically self-sufficient, so we ain’t waiting on hand outs and grants. We’re not doing this (Boss Up Inc.) to sell out, that’s for sure. Boss Up Inc. is for our empowerment we are a publisher; we sell books, DVDs, T-Shirts; we have a monthly magazine (Ammo); tour dates and Dead Prez news are also available on the site.
A.i.: You guys rocked it @ Dave Chappelle’s Block Party, for me you stole the show. How important was The Block Party for Dead Prez?
stic.man: It was a tremendous opportunity and a blessing. We got a lot of exposure and we still getting opportunities as a result of that opportunity. It exposed us to his audience. The ancestors were definitely working with us on that one.
A.i.: stic, what prompted you to write the book ‘The Art of Emcee-ing'?
stic.man: My passion for writing and being an MC. I thought it would be a good idea to document my process for my own improvement. In the book I document the techniques and formulae I use. I also asked other artists their techniques, I collected this info for myself initially… It’s funny you see lots of books on classical singing, pop singing etc. but you never see anything for Hip-Hop. The book is a scientific approach to being an MC, dealing with writers block, mic technique; it documents the art and the science behind it. I been rapping for 20yrs now. So I have a lot of insight. It’s won Book of the Month twice on Rap City.
A.i.: In your book you say: A Rapper is to an Emcee what an average street fighter is to a trained martial artist. They are both fighters, but the degree and depth of their skill is very different. What for you defines a true MC?
stic.man: Is he / she true to themselves? Do they respect what they do?, what is their motivation?, what are they reaching for, in terms of rhythm, skill, content? Ultimately they have to be true to themselves and be competent in communicating that.
A.i.: One thing that bugs me about some MC’s is that they have the rhymes and the music; but their stage presence & image is either contrived or non-existent…
stic.man: I kinda agree, different fans have different qualities and need different things from the artists they support. There’s no rules. There’s room for everything; so basically shop around for what you want. If I don’t know a person I can’t judge and say they ain’t real.
A.i.: What is Hip-Hop to you?
stic.man: Hip-Hop is more than what people think; rap is just an element. It’s the culture of my generation. It’s how we do what we do, the swag in what we do, the mindset to what we do. You know for me Hip-Hop is Outkast, Sade, and Fela Kuti…
A.i.: One nameless artist seems to think Hip-Hop is dead… Is it DEAD?
stic.man: Even ‘that’ artist know it ain’t dead… I mean they doing it so it can’t be dead. I think it was said more to bring attention to Hip-Hop, to say that it’s bland and uninspiring. I hear that sentiment all the time. Hip-Hop is ripe for change. The digital revolution, Pro Tools, the internet means it’s more in the hands of the producers and the writers, so it’s far from dead; if anythings dead it’s the same old policies of the system.
A.i.: This question comes courtesy of Tony Green (Club Fresh Jive): Where do you see breaking in today’s hip-hop culture? Is it still important?
stic.man: I think it is. As an art-form it’s excellent discipline, excellent for health, strength, rhythm, healthy competition. It inspires people when they see the moves and the skill. It’s a physical reminder of the roots of Hip-Hop, a physical expression of the sonic part of Hip-Hop, just like graffiti is the visual. When you take out one sense the five senses are not complete, you need breaking for Hip-Hop to be complete. I personally don’t dance anymore but my martial art fills the void.
A.i.: How do you deal with the Industry Blues? How do you stay positive in the face of what seems to be an endless struggle?
stic.man: My lifestyle keeps me focused. What I eat, working out, no TV, saying no to one more blunt (laughs). The choices I make regarding the people I allow into my life. Everything you do creates your reality. I make choices that have a positive outcome, I respect discipline. I also believe I can do whatever I set my heart to. I give thanks constantly for what I have and what I can do.
A.i.: Your verdict on female MC’s at this point in time?
stic.man: Where y’all at! Man, I encourage it, we need it, we need to hear the woman’s perspective on everything under the sun! Imagine a youth growing up and never hearing a woman speaking her mind… Imagine not having the benefits of that, we really need that balance. Also don’t try be a man, do you. Women sometimes are so clear in their thinking in a male dominated world. I wanna reinforce the empowerment of being an MC for a woman and how it helps you define your own phenomenon.
A.i.: Which female MC’s are doing it for you right now?
stic.man: There’s not a lot; I like Lauryn, Erykah Badu – I consider her Hip-Hop, M.I.A.; my definition is loose, so artists like Kelis, Keisha Cole I feel as being Hip-Hop and I enjoy what they do. As far as a female MC bringing the raw lyrics there ain’t a lot doing that.
A.i.: Have you heard of Estelle?
stic.man: Yeah, just recently M-1 did a song with her and introduced me to her and we might be using that for a Dead Prez song.
A.i.: Who are you feeling in UK Hip-Hop right now?
stic.man: My ear ain’t to the street in the UK like that and to be real I’m more Soul than people think. One UK rapper I’ve felt is Dizzee Rascal, I don’t know his story or what the streets is saying, but I like his energy and his videos, he kinda got that b-boy thing going on.
A.i.: Any upcoming projects, releases, tours etc. for Dead Prez?
stic.man: We have a new book coming out end of March, it‘s called – African Martial Arts: Discovering The Warrior Within. Most people think martial arts came from Asia, it actually started in Africa. It’s historical as well as being a ‘how-to‘ guide.
Also my wife’s book is coming out soon – The Vegan Soul Food Guide to the Galaxy. It’s basically showing you how to prepare and eat good vegan soul food. There are lots of recipes; a lot of them are simple and delicious, nothing bland. It also looks into the history behind a lot of the elements – such as the Soya Bean – that go into many of the vegan meals in the book.
We also aiming to have a new Dead Prez album hopefully by end of 2008 or even before! It’s gonna be called – Information Age.
*8 albums include solo and collaborative releases.