Let's Get Free

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Let's Get Free
Studio album by dead prez
Released March 14, 2000
Recorded 1998–2000
Genre Underground hip hop
Political hip hop
Length 69:30
Label Loud, Columbia, Relativity
Producer dead prez
Hedrush
Lord Jamar
Kanye West
dead prez chronology
Let's Get Free
(2000)
RBG: Revolutionary But Gangsta
(2004)
Professional ratings
Review scores
Source Rating
Allmusic 4.5/5 stars[1]
Rolling Stone 4/5 stars[2]
The Source 3.5/5 stars[3]
NME 4/5 stars[4]
CMJ (B)[5]

Let's Get Free is the debut studio album by hip-hop duo dead prez. It was released March 14, 2000 on Loud Records & Columbia Records, under distribution from Relativity Records.

Critically acclaimed upon its first release, Let's Get Free was called a "return to politically conscious rap"[6] 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"[7] 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".[8] The album art is a homage to the Tricontinental Conference promotional posters.

Overview[edit]

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 pan-Africanism is established on the album's first rap, "I'm an 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 Stalinist 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". This is in direct conflict to the official story that Newton was killed in a drug deal that went astray.

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[edit]

No. Title Producer(s) Length
1. "Wolves" (Chairman Omali Yeshitela) dead prez 2:16
2. "I'm an African"" (Additional Vocals by Indo and Abu) Hedrush & dead prez 3:19
3. "They Schools" (Chorus Vocals by Keanna Henson) Hedrush & dead prez 5:06
4. "Hip-Hop"   dead prez 3:33
5. "Police State" (Opening Vocals by Chairman Omali Yeshitela) Hedrush & dead prez 3:40
6. "Behind Enemy Lines" (Phone Calls by Ness, Toya and Divine) Hedrush & dead prez 3:03
7. "Assassination"   Lord Jamar & dead prez 2:01
8. "Mind Sex" (Additional Vocals by Umi, Becca's Smoke and Candy Store, poem by Abiodun Oyewole) dead prez 4:51
9. "We Want Freedom" (Additional Vocals from "The Spook Who Sat by the Door") Hedrush & dead prez 4:33
10. "Be Healthy" (Additional Vocals by Prodigy) Hedrush & dead prez 2:34
11. "Discipline" (Phone Call by Dedan and Nimrod) dead prez 1:37
12. "Psychology" (Additional Vocals by True Image, poem read by Umi) Lord Jamar & dead prez 5:56
13. "Happiness"   Lord Jamar & dead prez 3:48
14. "Animal in Man"   dead prez 4:31
15. "You'll Find a Way (Instrumental)"   dead prez 3:13
16. "It's Bigger Than Hip-Hop" (Tahir) Kanye West & dead prez 3:55
17. "Propaganda" (Additional Vocals by Becca's Smoke and Candy Store, ending vocals by Huey Newton) Lord Jamar & dead prez 5:40
18. "The Pistol" (Maintain) Lord Jamar & dead prez 4:27

Album singles[edit]

Single information
"Police State"
  • Released: October 27, 1998
  • B-Side: "Police State" (without intro)
"Hip-Hop"
  • Released: March 30, 1999
  • B-Side: "Selling D.O.P.E."
"It's Bigger Than Hip-Hop"
  • Released: December 7, 1999
  • B-Side: "Hip-Hop"
"I'm an African"
  • Released: 2000
  • B-Side: "The Pistol"
"Mind Sex"
  • Released: August 15, 2000
  • B-Side: "Happiness"

Chart positions[edit]

Album chart positions[edit]

Year Album Chart positions
Billboard 200 Top R&B/Hip Hop Albums
2000 Let's Get Free #73 #22

Singles chart positions[edit]

Year Song Chart positions
Billboard Hot 100 Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Singles & Tracks Hot Rap Singles
1999 "Hip-Hop" - - #49
2000 "It's Bigger Than Hip-Hop" - - #43

Personnel[edit]

  • 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, A&R
  • Schott Free — Executive producer, A&R
  • A. Jabbar — Assistant A&R
  • Malachi — Assistant A&R
  • Lincoln Weir — A&R administration
  • Tra Frazier — A&R administration
  • Kyesha Bennett — Product manager
  • Exodus — Management
  • Stuart "Kamau" Lyle — Cover concept
  • Kerry DeBruce — Art direction, design
  • Lorraine West — Illustration
  • Anthony Cutajar — Album photography
  • Saba — Road photography
  • Corbis — Archival images

References[edit]