Dead Prez just got back from an European tour, promoting their new album and hitting stops across the continent from Athens, Greece to Oslo, Norway. We sat down with Stic.Man to discuss the “Innovation Age”, personal inspiration, and today’s state of hip-hop.
Rappersroom: What’s the welcoming like with fans around the world in comparison to fans from the U.S.?
Stic.Man: People always think it’s different, but I don’t really see it. We get a lot of love from a lot of diehard supporters. I just think the touring circuit is a lot more grounded there than it is in the U.S. where everybody is trying to be all Hollywood. But regardless we’re just out there with a message that people can relate to.
Rappersroom: So with always having a message, is there any reason Dead Prez seems to have shied away from the limelight?
Stic.Man: Well, there is a “get rich” culture in America where a lot of people just brag about what they’ve got. That doesn’t appeal to me. Like don’t get me wrong, handling responsibilities and financial security are really important, but as far as living for fame and lavish luxury, that’s not me. For me, I just love making music.
Rappersroom: With the new album “Information Age”, why was it important for the world to hear this new message?
Stic.Man: It’s been like 8 years since me and M-1 recorded an album, and in that time apart we’ve both grown – We’re both fathers now raising our kids, and we’ve just really matured a lot, expanding on how we grew up to the men we are today. And it was really important for us to communicate this new chapter, and show where our journey has taken us. It’s important to keep telling the story. Like if there was somebody who heard our music when we were 18 years old and they tried to live their life by that, it’s necessary for them to see how that outlook has changed in 20 years of growth to where we are today.
Rappersroom: What inspired some of these songs on “Information Age”?
Stic.Man: On a track like “What If The Lights Go Out”, we were speaking to preparedness in the face of monumental events. From Y2K to Hurricane Katrina, people were scrambling to ready themselves for an uncertain future. “No Way As The Way” describes a search we all go through, trying to find the meanings of life. We looked through religion, spirituality, and perspective, really trying to show what that all means to us.
Rappersroom: You have a record on the album called “Dirty White Girl” – For the people who don’t listen to Dead Prez, do you ever think about what they’d say or how they envision you guys?
Stic.Man: I mean how can you imagine how other people envision anything. You’ve just got to create with your sensibilities and put it out there. Art is to be engaging, intrigue, and make people have some kind of feeling. You know in the streets “White Girls” are drugs – cocaine, dust, and all that. And we start thinking about all that, we’re out here promoting health and wellness. The track honestly has nothing to do with race, but we thought it would be engaging to show that connection.
Rappersroom: What are your expectations for this new album with the digital version out and the hardcopy set to release in late January?
Stic.Man: The hard copy is actually the deluxe edition with some unreleased songs that aren’t on the digital version. And these aren’t just a “couple extra tracks”. They’re very important for the totality of the message and vision behind the record.
Rappersroom: What have been some of the most rewarding parts of your career thus far?
Stic.Man: Being a vessel for these lyrics, melodies, concepts and all that, and to do it for a living – that’s a dream come true. Like, I can support my family off this and I feel very blessed for that. I wake up everyday and part of my job is song concepts. There are many different paths my life could have taken, and to be in this position is truly incredible.
Rappersroom: What kind of hip-hop do you listen to outside of your music and who are some of the artists that you listen to?
Stic.Man: To be honest, I’m not really a huge hip-hop fan at the moment. Of course, I’m big into the classics that really made the genre what it is today. With some of the newer stuff I feel like it became redundant, with less risk in it. But then again there are definitely people who stand out today who I really respect for the music they’re making. T.I. and Andre 3000 would be good examples of that.
Rappersroom: It seems like labels have been handing out a lot of money for a quick single lately, most recently with Trinidad James signing to Def Jam. What is your feedback on that?
Stic.Man: You’ve gotta ask yourself about what the business goal for a label like Def Jam really is. They just invested two million dollars in the message behind their artist, and they’ve got to feel confident that they can push that image to an audience. It’s just very interesting that all of these business people, like Harvard grads and whatnot, would invest in that message.
Edited by Kevin Lazaroff