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Let's Get Free

Let's Get Free is the debut studio album by hip-hop duo dead prez. It was released February 8, 2000 on Loud Records.

Critically acclaimed upon its first release, Let's Get Free was called a "return to politically conscious rap" and, "the most politically conscious rap since Public Enemy"; the duo's messages also earned them favorable comparisons with Brand Nubian, The Coup, Def Jef and X-Clan. The album's lyrics, performed in front of sparse beats that many critics derided as a "dull musical backdrop" are startlingly direct, militant and confrontational. M-1 and stic.man excoriate the media, the music industry, politicians and poverty, and urge their target audience to study socialism and ideas of black power. Rolling Stone gave the album four stars and lauded its equation of "classrooms with jail cells, the projects with killing fields and everything from water to television with conduits for brainwashing by the system". The album art is an homage to the Tricontinental Conference promotional posters. The song "Hip-Hop" was used in EA's video game Skate.

Overview

The record opens with a speech by Chairman Omali Yeshitela, of the International Peoples Democratic Uhuru Movement, describing a method of hunting which lures wolves to suicide, and makes the analogy to self-destruction fueled by crack in the black community.

The duo's radical African Internationalism is established on the album's first rap, "I'm a African", which contains the lyric "I'm an African/Never was an African-American". The same song explains their musical stance as "somewhere between N.W.A and P.E.", referring to the two major hip-hop groups of late 1980s hip hop, West Coast's N.W.A, and East Coast's Public Enemy.

"They Schools" assaults the dominance of whites in the public education system in the United States, from the accusatory title to the opening, "I went to school with some redneck crackers/right around the time 3rd Bass dropped The Cactus Album", referring to an interracial trio from the East Coast.

"Hip-Hop", the most well known song from the album clearly states their beliefs concerning the modern music industry being over-commercialized. They also illustrate their beliefs, stating "Who shot Biggie Smalls/If we don't get them they gon' get us all, I'm down for runnin' up on them crackers in they City Hall."

"Animal in Man" is an adaptation of George Orwell's Animal Farm and begins with a sound excerpt from the movie Beneath the Planet of the Apes. The story mirrors Orwell's Animal Farm until the Revisionist character, Hannibal, attempts to re-organize the society into a class system, at which point all the animals reject this, execute Hannibal, quarter his body and put it on display. "Behind Enemy Lines" namechecks Black Panther Fred Hampton.

Among the rallying cries for black liberation/socialism, dead prez include entreaties for self-respect/love: "Be Healthy" is about eating right ("I don't eat, no meat no dairy no sweets") and has become very popular in the vegetarian and vegan community; "Mind Sex" is about getting to know your lover and appreciate a person's mind as well as their body ("maybe later we could play a game of chess on the futon"; "Discipline makes things easier, organize your life"); and "Happiness" is about warm weather as a tool for the liberation struggle. Dead prez member stic.man also discloses his religious beliefs in the track "Propaganda" "I believe man created God out of ignorance and fear" and also gives another rallying call for Huey P. Newton, explaining that the black population understands that the system killed the Black Panther leader because he had "the answer".

As well as hip-hop beats, many tracks contain live instruments, such as "Psychology", "Animal in Man", and "You'll Find a Way".

Track listing

Album singles

Personnel

  • stic.man – lead vocals, production, executive producer, art direction
  • M-1 – lead vocals, production, executive producer, art direction
  • Hedrush – production, drum programming
  • Lord Jamar – production
  • Kanye West – production
  • Tahir (of Hedrush) – vocals
  • Maintain (of Illegal Tendencies) – vocals
  • Indo (of People's Army) – additional vocals
  • Abu (of People's Army) – additional vocals
  • Keanna Henson – additional vocals
  • Ness (of A-Alikes) – additional vocals
  • Toya (of People's Army) – additional vocals
  • Divine (of People's Army) – additional vocals
  • Umi – additional vocals
  • Becca's Smoke and Candy Store – additional vocals, keyboards
  • Abiodun Oyewole (of The Last Poets) – additional vocals
  • Prodigy (of Mobb Deep) – additional vocals
  • Dedan (of Illegal Tendencies) – additional vocals
  • Nimrod (of Illegal Tendencies) – additional vocals
  • True Image – additional vocals
  • Mark Batson – keyboards
  • Christos Tsantilios – recording, mixing
  • Blair Wells – recording
  • Nastee – recording
  • Doug Wilson – mixing
  • Bernard Grubman – guitar
  • Pressure of Fambase – keyboards
  • Melvin Gibbs – bass
  • Laura J. Seaton-Finn – strings
  • Joshua – horns
  • Mista Sinista (of The X-Ecutioners) – scratching
  • Sean Cane – drums, executive producer
  • Matt Life – executive producer
  • Schott Free – executive producer
  • Stuart "Kamau" Lyle – cover concept
  • Kerry DeBruce – art direction, design
  • Lorraine West – illustration
  • Anthony Cutajar – album photography
  • Saba – road photography
  • Corbis – archival images

    Charts



    Album

    Singles