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25907 Posts in 9964 Topics by 982 Members Latest Member: - Ferguson Most online today: 164 (July 03, 2005, 06:25:30 PM)
+  Africa Speaks Reasoning Forum
|-+  ENTERTAINMENT/ ARTS/ LITERATURE
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| | |-+  dead prez
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Author Topic: dead prez  (Read 35777 times)
Oshun_Auset
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« Reply #15 on: May 12, 2004, 10:27:56 AM »

I like the video for Hell Yeah. The only people that wouldn't like it are those that lack a sense of humor, and are in fantasy land when it comes to the economic and social reality of the masses of African youth in the U.S.....and you gotta LOVE the ending!
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gman
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« Reply #16 on: May 12, 2004, 09:41:50 PM »

Yeah the video is hilarious but serious in my eyes.
Here is a good recent interview with dead prez:
http://designermagazine.tripod.com/DeadPrezINT2.html
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erzulie
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« Reply #17 on: June 25, 2004, 02:04:06 PM »

i too have been a fan of dead prez since meeting M1 in Havana at the hip hop festival several years back. both he and stic-man have been consistently supportive and instrumental in grassroots Black empowerment projects throughout the states and with directions pointing to global Black populations. however i have grown increasingly disappointed and more importantly critical of them as i realize their commitment to Black women's liberation is shaky at best.

from their first album, the "mind sex" tune inspired a long discussion amongst the sistren of my community. the subtle sexist possesive attitude toward the black woman body as expressed in the tune could not be ignored as each brother's desire for a conversation before "f***ing" is proposed a some kind of gender progress and sensitivity or more aptly according to these verses a little chatting makes for better boning while the possibilities and complexities necessary to build a real foundation between Black partners is ignored. who needs partnership and family when apparently a bit of poetry and sex will suffice?

later on their "turn off the radio" album, women's voices appear only to reinforce dead prez's revolutionary virility. sounding intoxicated by weed and delirious with the prowess of the very male entered "RBG" crew, in an interlude between tracks a sister moans her loyalty to the posse. very unlike the hailed and elevated Assata and Nehanda, these "everyday/round the way" sisters have nothing to verbally contribute to the musical movement beyond very erotic sighs and grasps. and yet here in the streets of brooklyn which remains the central location of the dead prez family (as far as i know,) women represent a large population of the grassroots activism taking place in the community from organizations such as the Malcolm X Grassroots Movement to Sista 2 Sista, Black women are the foundation of activism happening within the hip hop community. the side kick/sex object grasping girl on the album is an insult to the hard working, committed and highly articulate women who continue to work for Black self determination in the community often along side dead prez.

and yet the misogny and sexism presented in "hell yeah" video is the most problematic vision of dead prez i've seen thus far. just as we must remain critical of their Ecko advertisement and by extention their support of the capitalist machine that exploits Black people globally, we must demand what is going on with these so called conscious rappers who feel that in order to remain credible to the so called street/thug culture, Black women's dignity must be sacrificed. the Black woman prostitute shown in the video is gaining no power by subverting the economics of the system, she is simply there as an object to be exploited sexually by a Black man (M1) who can prove his temporary agency by using/buying her flesh with the currency of his oppressors. and how is this revolutionary? we must move  beyond the Eldridge Cleaver type sexist contradictions if we are to create cultures of transformation. and at the close of the video the fantasy of polygamy shown is exactly that a fantasy. though there is some humour here, images such as this further propagate muddled Western notions of African social relationships. we can not trust that the average purveyor of such videos has basic knowledge of any African culture outside of white supremacist imaginings. thus this image reinforces African women's objectification as well as African primitivism in the minds of the mainstream.

it seems to me that dead prez (and they are obvisiously not the only hip hop artists doing so ) have made a conscious decision to uphold misogyny as a means of establishing themselves as powerful and credible inside a Black male sexist paradigm of Black power. choosing to ignore the voices of Black women who have and continue to protest our exclusion and exploitation inside Black political movements, dp has decided to keep the old sick boat moving down the Mississipppi towards our collective demise. by "pimpin'" Black women they are allowing themselves and all of us to be pimped once again by white supremacy.

we can not allow our so called conscious artists to misrepresent us. as few and far between as artists such as dead prez may be, we have a responsibility to call them out when they are committed to hurtful and counterprogressive elements. being down for the Black cause without being down for Black women is a paradox we must into question every time.

so "tell me who's got control of your mind?" dp, propaganda
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gman
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« Reply #18 on: June 25, 2004, 03:15:34 PM »

As a male I'm not really qualified to say what is and is not disrespectful to sistren. And you (Erzulie) are certainly right when you say we should call out people who are supposed to be representing us when they do something questionable. (I would very much like to hear an explanation from dpz about their Ecko ads). However, I wonder if you might not be reading a bit too much into things here? Not saying you are, as I said I'm a man so I'm probably not going to be picking up on these things as much as you are, but here's a few points to consider:
-Is a desire to have sex with a woman (as expressed on "Mind Sex") necessarily a desire to "possess" her? Where are the images of possession/control/patriarchy in this song? OK it's not addressing all the aspects of building an equal relationship with a woman, but is that its purpose? It's only a 4 minute or so song. All the women I know (which admittedly is not all the women in the world) saw that song as a breath of fresh air in the quagmire of "money sex hoes", "shake ya booty" songs clogging up what passes for hip-hop nowadays.
-"Turn off the Radio" was a parody of the format of a radio show, and the sexy female voices were a parody of the sexy female voices on your average radio show. They're not the only female voices on there, there is also the articulate Black woman being interviewed on the "Hood News".
-"Real Black Girl" on the Mixtape vol.2 says they like a "warrior gal" "strong like Winnie Mandela, better yet Assata", a girl who "pops off and ain't afraid to peel, peel" (i.e. kill), hardly the typical patriarchal fantasy of a submissive woman. OK though, just as they bigged up both the "dark skin" and the "red bone", they could've bigged up more body types than the "swole in the rear", "slim in the waist, the legs so long".
-The "Hell Yeah" video is more problematic in my opinion. But #1, you have to know that the video is actually based scene-for-scene on a movie called "The Gang Tapes" (from the car-jacking and stealing of the video camera, to the interlude with the woman in the middle [who apparently is a porn star named 'Mary Jane' who's friends with dpz, which could be seen as another contradiction unless you see any job in this system whether porn star or garbage collector, as basically all forms of 'prostituting' yourself/ your labor], to the police raid at the end). Just to put it in context. Now, #2, its pretty clear to me as I said before (I think) that dpz are not playing themselves in this video, they're playing the role of two not-particularly-conscious-or-'revolutionary' brothers who are just trying to survive the best they know how, and who are not supposed to be role models for people's behavior. They're like dpz before they got exposed to revolutionary ideas, they're supposed to be just the average brothers on the street, and like it or not the average brother on the street does relate to women in a superficial, materialistic way. Also, I didn't see the woman in the video as a prostitute, I saw her as someone they picked up at the department store when they were 'shopping', in fact it seemed like they knew each other already from the way they greeted each other. Course I could be wrong. Anyway that scene did indeed rub me the wrong way when I saw the video and I wondered as to its purpose... but regardless of your opinion on it, to put it in context, it does mirror the scene on "The Gang Tapes."
As for the lack of female MCs in the RBG crew, no doubt, there should be female MCs in it, there needs to be more female MCs period.
Don't take this as saying you're nitpicking, or saying dpz should be above criticism, just cos they're the best thing in semi-mainstream hip hop right now doesn't mean they're the best that they can be, you're right to point these things out. I just wanted to throw in another perspective. I'll shut up on the subject now and let the sistren have their say.
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Prosper
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« Reply #19 on: June 26, 2004, 10:48:01 AM »

When I saw the "Hell Yeah" video, I was kinda dissapointed at first.  Even though I knew what the song was really about and the intent (Any true Dp fan would understand), I felt as though the general public and the mainsteam would view it differently.  Whether the video mirrors another film or even if it was their own concept. It portrays the Animalistic Idealogy that has been flagarantly forced into the world's view of our people.  My discomfort was eased at the end of the video and I was relieved to the see the whole concept of the production.  My only problem with that is the MEDIA.  I mean, they cut off into's, outro's, hell 106 and park even cuts off half of the video.  It may not be presented to the public as it is intended to.  I figure at the least, maybe some brotha's who may not be open to Dead Prez, make crack their ear's and mind's open just enough for seed to sprout about.  Power to the People!


As far as the Ecko advertisement goes, I can't really speak on it because I don't know to much about it.  Mostly anything that you do in this world these serpents will have some type of ties or connections to it.  Heck, to get major distribution for an album you have to go through these people.  True, they could have picked a different clothing company to advertise.  I can't knock them for that.  Pimp the system or let the system pimp you.  I know that Dead Prez is not getting pimped.  Nuff said, Peace my peopes!
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erzulie
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« Reply #20 on: June 26, 2004, 10:07:28 PM »

perhaps it would important for us to define what is the purpose of conscious music or in this case conscious hip hop. does it hit the airwaves to inspire change? does it exist to propell activists forward in their work or does it seek to create new activists to begin to commit their energies to collective transformation? is its meaning to inform us? or offer us new ways of looking at the world? does it function to allow us venting room, a space where our issues can be gleaned and/or deconstructed? it is supposed uplift us from the downward spirals of oppression?

if the answer is yes to any of those questions, then dead prez needs to be critiqued on their recent inconsistencies and inability to qualify on our understanding of conscious art that fuels Black liberation.

another question: can an oppressed and exploited people manipulate the form of parady when their lives and existence and especially their representations have been made into a joke by the status quo? can this parody based on images created by the exploiters be then used to empower the exploited?

i think that is a very difficult task. it should not be our job as viewers of a music video to determine the covert meanings behind the images at length. it should be obvisious--does this liberate or further exploit the people/community, period.

lastly, i think that any commitment to a hyper masculine sexist paradigm needs to adjusted immediately. this is not helping anybody. we must learn from past mistakes as it was the culture of hypermasculinty that created huge fractures in the 1960's revolutionary movement in the US, not to mention independance movements in Zimbabwe and South Africa to name a few historical moments. Black women continue to bare the painful brunt of Black male egomania. and while this structure of patriarchy is not entirely ours, it has been definately imposed upon us. and if brothers can not move towards a vision of Black liberation that includes black women's liberation and a struggle challenges and destroys gender stratification, we as a people may never taste freedom.

and p.s. i do get/feel the video and music but ultimately its just another tired love/hate imbalance in hip hop culture.
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preach
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« Reply #21 on: July 01, 2004, 03:10:28 AM »

Erzulie. Can the parody empower the exploited? pardon my paraphrase.Yes. It is almost like the reflection from a mirror. We can't positively critique our actions without first reflecting on them. An example would be when tommy davidson's( i hope that's his name) character in bamboozled became appalled at how he looked in blackface. Can you please go in further detail about the love/hate imbalance in hip hop culture? thanks.
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erzulie
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« Reply #22 on: July 02, 2004, 06:43:12 PM »

as a Black woman living in the US and coming of age in several various urban centers in the States, hip-hop was a source of cultural identification for me as it was and is for countless Black people of the post Civil Rights generation. like other hip-hop heads, i felt for a time that the music/culture spoke for and to me. and i felt a need and an excitement to participate and converse amongst that movement.  

but i was (and am) always concerned and often disheartened by my representation as a Black woman in that culture. this experience is not anything new or singular. hip-hop's continuous patriarchal leanings are now old news. and even still, Black women voices in that cultural sphere continue to regulated into the margins were our butts and breasts are exposed yet our mouths (of intelligence or protest) are shut. in videos and in song after song, Black women are objectified and often the victims of hip-hop's "metaphorical" violence.  

and yet i have grown weary of critiquing the obvious sexism expressed by the most obvious sexist rappers. that is by far too easy at this point and has sadly been accepted as the evil in hip-hop we can't deter. and though i will continue to express my outrage at the cash and hoes paradigms, it is important to note that the so-called conscious artists, the male rappers in particular, are not innocent of sexism and misogyny in their images and their lyrics. while they may be better than the rest, they are often times still problematic in their contradictory stances on Black women. yes i'm talking about Common, Mos Def, dead prez, De La Soul etc. so while i "love" these artists for their contributions to Black culture which serve to uplift or at least excite us with a positive vibration, i also "hate" them for their tired, sorry, queen/ho binary that lines most of their conceptualizations of Black women. not to mention the subtle colorism and love of European features on Black women these artists/their videos often revel in. (and though dead prez is not quite guilty of these issues, their "RBG: revolutionary but gangsta" -isms points to a hypermasculinity that subverts Black women's power and voice.) and further, we need to keep it real and recognize that good song doesn't negate bad song; these artists need to represent a conscious and consistent effort towards the destruction of systems that kill Black people as patriarchy kills, maims and abuses our bodies, minds and spirits.

unfortunately, because there is always an a hip-hop act engaging in far more obscene sexisms, these artists become a "breath of fresh air." but as any urban dweller will tell you, what smells sweet ain't always so. and while, issues of power and responsibility must also be questioned in a white owned music industry that is not concerned with the Black communities' collective welfare, the individual agency of these artists cannot be completely over looked. (and perhaps that is/was the wonderful aspect of dead prez that has rallied many disillusioned hip-hop activists back to head nodding enjoyment has been their independence and anti-sell out/grassroots commitments that may unfortunately disqualified with the advent of their Ecko ads.)

so like many sisters, hip-hop is a love/hate imbalance for me. i love its energy, its power, its Blackness but i despise it as a language that is most often shaped around a hatred, disrespect and/or ownership of Black women's bodies/sexuality/labor/hearts. we have been damaged by this gender discord in our communities for far too long. and if our agenda is to "let's get free" then we need to truthfully do the work to make that happen which must include a scathingly careful examination of male privilege inside our community. if a nation can not rise above the position of its women, "miss fat booty" is by far, i hope, not the mountain top.
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