Music is the immortal narcotic. Like any drug, music can both help and harm. The various additive forms of music intoxicate the listeners in a myriad of ways. The Rolling Stones created cocaine rock and roll. “Paul’s Boutique” by The Beastie Boys and “Yes Please” by The Happy Mondays are angel dust masterpieces. “Pills, Thrills, N Bellyaches” by Happy Mondays is a musical ecstasy trip. Musical psychedelic acid trips can be experienced on albums like “Love’s Secret Domain” by Coil and “Towards The Infinite Beat” by Psychic TV. Musical heroin of Spiritualized and Spacemen 3 will turn listeners into junkies. Hip-hop music is one of the most powerful drugs today. While some hip-hop albums promote selling and experiencing drugs, Dead Prez and Outlawz have just created a musical methadone to help us in recovery. Regardless of the style or genre, music lovers are always looking for the next big “hit”.See Also:
During the 70’s, a socially conscious message about drugs were evident in Soul, Funk, and R&B. Curtis Mayfield’s soundtrack to the film, “Superfly” was misinterpreted by many people. Mayfield used this revolutionary album to depict the negative aspects of cocaine. This message was lost within the film. These socially conscious messages have been passed down through generations through music. As music evolved, hip-hop culture utilized these themes. Emcees rhymed about the drug situation as producers sampled the actual music.
Rooted in the spirit of revolution, hip-hop is the most assorted form of drug music. Since the golden era of hip-hop, cocaine and heroin has been an essential aspect of the culture. The juggernaut assault of crack cocaine and heroin has played two functions. While many artists rhyme about how crack cocaine and heroin have crippled families and the communities, other artists brag about selling or using drugs. Some people think that hip-hop glamorizes drug dealing, but others suggest that hip-hop provides an honest portrait of the dangerous lifestyle. Will listeners be tempted by the fast money, danger, and power? Will they be terrified of the prospect of getting killed or arrested? The diverse culture of hip-hop provides multiple outlooks. This delicate balance between responsibility and temptation adds to hip-hop’s multifaceted dynamic.
Dead Prez and Outlawz are two revolutionary hip-hop groups who have just created a legendary collaboration project. Released by Affluent Records, the “Can’t Sell Dope Forever” LP by Dead Prez & Outlawz is musical methadone for the junkies who are addicted to the drug culture. Whether dealing or using, listeners can be considered fiends in multiple ways. A fiend can be addicted to the money, lifestyle, power, danger, or the actual narcotic. These two hip-hop groups created this album to inspire people. The music was made for the listener to wake up, grow up, and own up to their actions. Listeners will not hear a soft hippie style or label the music “positive”. Dead Prez and Outlawz are hardcore in their expressive nature and their purpose to promote change.
Hailing from California, Outlawz were started by the revolutionary emcee, Tupac Shakur (2Pac). Although revolution is a major element of the group’s foundation, Outlawz are a well-rounded hip-hop group. They explore multiple themes and styles. After a plethora of tragedies and changes, Outlawz have maintained a loyal fan base and continue to evolve.
Dead Prez were originally considered the Public Enemy of the new millennium. Their debut album, “Let’s Get Free” (Loud Records) was a powerfully insightful collection of rousing songs. The song, “They Schools” was a brutal look at the racism in America’s education system. “Be Healthy” was inspirational track about the importance of nutrition. Their main single, “Hip Hop” was an enlightening anthem for their People’s Army that offered listeners a new viewpoint on the power of music. After a sophomore album and some mix-tapes, Dead Prez pursued solo careers. Although the group is still together, M-1 released his solo “Confidential” LP and stic.man wrote a book titled, The Art of Emcee-ing. In every diverse action, M-1 and stic.man use their art to uplift their community and inspire change.
The collaboration effort between Dead Prez and Outlawz is a legendary event in hip-hop. Long after the nonsense of the moronic East Coast/West Coast war, these two groups linked up from opposite ends of the country. “Can’t Sell Dope Forever” must be heard by any person who is struggling with addiction or caught up in the drug culture. Like a narcotic, the drug lifestyle is painfully hard to renounce. Like methadone, the “Can’t Sell Dope Forever” LP ameliorates people during in this transition. The songs offer insight and wisdom to inspire maturity and achievement. The poignant track, “Like A Window” offers an honest depiction of how heroin damaged stic.man’s family. “Believe” is an anthem for the person who wants to overcome any obstacle, especially drugs. “U Ain’t The Only One” reminds the listeners that many people who share the same pain. Production is handled by stic.man, EDI Don, M1, Chuck P, Eddie Coldfingers, and Tai Rotan. Guests include Layzie Bone (from Bone Thugs-N-Harmony) and Ms. Nora (stic.man’s mother). “Can’t Sell Dope Forever” is a landmark album, essential for hip-hop listeners and those in recovery.
On a brutally humid weekday afternoon in July 2006, I spoke to stic.man, Young Noble, and Stormey. Although from different corners of America, all three of them share the same pain from struggle. They have fought similar battles. Their struggle is universal. Young Noble and Stormey (from Outlawz) work with stic.man (Dead Prez) as if they have been brothers all of their lives. The encouraging solidarity adds to the glory of hip-hop culture.
As a nation, we cannot sell dope forever, but we can rely on music to help us through life.
TODD E. JONES: “What goes on?”
YOUNG NOBLE: “One nation. Shit, working hard, baby!”
TODD E. JONES: “Both Dead Prez and Outlawz just released a collaboration album, ‘Can’t Sell Dope Forever’. How did this come about?”
stic.man: “Let’s see. It came about because America put us in a condition in our community of slavery. They let us be here, to be the bottom of society without no resources and no reparations. So, you got communities of people who are starving. They are starving for resources and starving for information. They are starving from community control of our own lives. C.I.A. and the F.B.I. brought the dope into our communities and gave us some options to make a little money and take care of certain things that were going down. Then, we got locked up. Then, we got fiend out. We are all trying to get over that hump, over that planet rock that hit us in the 80’s. Now, you got n*ggas that are hit with the laws of communities. They’re in the game. Now, we can’t sell dope forever. We’re not just talking to the people on the corners, scape goating young n*ggas, saying, ‘Can’t sell dope forever’. We’re talking to the system and we’re talking to the rap industry. We’re saying, ‘You can’t sell dope forever! You can’t keep selling us that bullsh*t forever.’ Our people are going to wake up, going to boss up. That’s how it came about, from the start.”
TODD E. JONES: “Some people think that hip-hop music perpetuates the drug dealing mentality while others think that it inspires people to change or make money in a more positive way. What’s your opinion?”
YOUNG NOBLE: “As far as the music, when dudes rap about what they rap about, it’s one thing. We, as individuals, we are just taking responsibility for this music. We are standing up and being men. We are blessed to even have the nuts to come out with a CD called, ‘Can’t Sell Dope Forever’. Nobody would do some sh*t like that. As far as I could remember, only N.W.A. would probably do some sh*t like that, as real as the message is. As far as music goes, music has been good for us. It’s given us an avenue for our voice to be heard and get money. This rap sh*t is feeding a lot of muthaf*ckas, man. It’s feeding a lot of n*ggas, a lot of white folks, and a lot of every damn body. This music is our voice. We just have to use it more seriously. I feel that a lot of dudes may not have the information, or whatever the case may be. As far as us, we’re just trying to step up and bring balance to the game. This music is a beautiful for thing for us, by all means.”
TODD E. JONES: “Stic, you have an incredible song on the ‘Can’t Sell Dope Forever’ LP and ‘Turn Off The Radio: Get Free Or Die Tryin’” CD called ‘Window’, which is about coping with your brother being a heroin addict.”
stic.man: “Thanks, man.”
TODD E. JONES: “In your opinion, how does someone overcome that situation, or help a loved one overcome addiction?”
YOUNG NOBLE: “Stic, let me take this? As far as me, I relate to it too. I moved to Jersey when I was 6 years old. I moved to Montclair. I moved from Cali. My brother was a young Crip. He wound up shooting somebody when he was like 15. So, they shipped him to Jersey. He was out there doing time as an adult. He had to leave California and had to do like 7 to 10 years. So, they shipped him to Jersey. My brother starting using that sh*t when he got out there. When he got out of high school, was when I think he started really f*cking with that sh*t. That was real. I’m 28 right now. My brother just got locked up maybe about a month ago. He’s been locked up, in and out of jail, getting back on that sh*t. It’s the same sh*t. Me, personally? It’s like a line that Stic said in the song. He said, ‘….I can’t let you terrorize Mom Dukes / I’m feeling like I’m a have to cut you loose…’ I’m feeling like I have done so much for my brother. It was like I love him so much that I can’t do nothing for him. You can keep giving him money. What you going to do if a muthaf*cka won’t allow you to help him if they don’t allow no help for themselves? What can you do? You really can’t do nothing. There’s really nothing you can do but say, ‘I love my family but I can’t do nothing for you. You have to be willing to try to break this sh*t and want something better for yourself. If you continue, you’re just going to be locked up or you’re just going to die.’ You know what I mean? Get aids? Anything.”
stic.man: “The problem is more than individuals. Chemical addiction and the dope that’s out here is bigger than love. The sh*t is strong than love, G! How about that? That’s a reality that we deal with. Together, what can we do? Take, for example, the Nation Of Islam. Malcolm X was a junkie. How about that? Malcolm was a junkie and he was able to come back. Look at Huey Newton. Huey was a cocaine user. Look what he was able to contribute to our community. What can you do? It’s about having a network, a family, a community, a gang, an organization, a clergy, or whatever it’s going to take. It’s going to take people who are organizing themselves to provide them rehabs, to give those colonics to clean out their systems, to sit with those fiends when they are going through those heroin withdrawals, and all that. We need a community effort. They have to forgive you over and over and over. They have to point the finger and give you the right political education. It’s not just religion. A lot of people call that jailhouse religion. Say, I go to jail, find God, and now, I’m righteous? Nah, we need political education because the same conditions in the prison are here when we come home. Long story short, I don’t want to beat it in the head, but it takes a community effort. It deals with money and resources. We need to put that money up. I see Oprah Winfrey speaking about how hard she had it coming up. Well, put some money into the Malcolm X Grass Roots Movement. Give them money so they can open a rehab. Healing! It takes a community effort and resources. That’s what it takes. Dr. Mutulu Shakur, who was like Tupac’s step-pop, was one of the lead people who had a cure in place for drug addiction at The Lennox Hospital in New York City. They locked him up like he was a terrorist. He cured heroin addiction with acupuncture. The masters and the leaders, who we have in the U.S.A., got him locked up, calling him a criminal.”
TODD E. JONES: “Since ‘Can’t Sell Dope Forever’ was a collaboration album between Outlawz and Dead Prez, how was the creative process different?”
YOUNG NOBLE: “As far as I’m concerned, it wasn’t really different. We just do what we do. This is me, speaking about The Outlawz. We just do music. It ain’t no extra hard process. We just go into the studio and come from the heart with this sh*t. That’s just what you hear. It’s simple to me, but it’s different for everybody.”
STORMEY: “I don’t see a difference with it at all. We get in the studio and we find a track that suits both of us. Then, we rock with it. We move forward.”
stic.man: “It was different for me. It was definitely different because of the time I usually take to make music is a lot longer, for one. Number two, there were so many brothers contributing to the work load. When I say ‘contributing’, I don’t mean just rapping. They were contributing. It’s a production to make an album. We have so many generals, who are not just industry. We had generals who help make that whole sh*t happen. In the past, the thing falls all on me. For me, this was like a blessing to be with other people with drive to get sh*t done. I didn’t have to think if this n*gga was going to be trying to front with his verse because these Outlaw n*ggas are real dudes. All of that was already a given.”
TODD E. JONES: “Do you have a favorite song on the ‘Can’t Sell Dope Forever’ album?”
STORMEY: “‘I Believe’ and ‘Fork In The Road’ for me.”
YOUNG NOBLE: “Mine are ‘I Believe I Can’ and ‘1 Nation’. All of that sh*t is hot.”
stic.man: “Man, I’ll list the whole thing. I like ‘Fork In The Road’, ‘I Believe’ and I like that Layzie Bone joint, ‘Came Up’.”
TODD E. JONES: “How did Outlawz and Dead Prez hook up for this collaboration album?”
stic.man: “Stormey and a young comrade named, Zyad. Zyad is a real, real, real good solider right there. Of course, we grew up listening to Pac and The Outlawz from day one. We’ve been in the same struggle and the same scrap, youth marts, and all kinds of sh*t. I moved to Atlanta. The young homie, Zyad was one who was helping me. He was like, ‘Yo! Man! Y’all need to link up with the Lawz! They out here and sh*t.’ Is that how I met you, Storm?”
STORMEY: “Yeah, I came to the studio.”
YOUNG NOBLE: “Everything just lined up and we started kicking it and it was much more than music. We did that and have that in common, but it wasn’t only about that. You know what I mean? There were other things. It was comfortability. They were two of the finest Black men who were trying to do something. That’s the basis of it. Out of that, came the responsibility of this album.”
TODD E. JONES: “What was the last incident of racism you experienced?”
YOUNG NOBLE: “Whoa! We were in Moscow, about a month ago. As far as concerts, they loved us. It was bananas. When we got back to the airport to leave, it was a lot of racism in the airport. It almost felt like these mutherf*ckas were trying to keep us there. They were being real rude about it. I couldn’t believe it. It was like they were trying to squeeze our nuts or something. We needed an invitation to come to Russia. You have to go to the Russian Embassy and take out all of this money to go over there. We paid for a whole month. Instead of our invitation saying that we had 30 days to be out there, our invitation said we had like 5 days, the day we got there and the day we were supposed to leave. They made the mistake. It wasn’t like we made the mistake. We left the day after we were supposed to leave. Our invitations were expired and we had to pay all of this money. It wasn’t like they were trying to help us to make our flight. They knew that they had our money. They were taking our time, being real rude to us, and looking evil to us. I was heated. These muthaf*ckas wanted us to stay out here! Basically, we paid for new flights. It felt like they wanted us to miss our flight, so we had to pay for some more flights. They were like ‘Y’all n*ggas stay out here and sleep on the goddamn curb. We don’t give a f*ck’. That’s what it felt like. That’s what they did to us. That’s what it felt like. It didn’t feel like racism, it was racism. They were looking at us real evil. Then, this white person would come up and have a smile on his face. The airport people were like, ‘Come up in front of them’ and they would kick our bags to the side. They were tripping.”
STORMEY: “That’s what they did.”
stic.man: “Let me add on too. Racism as a concept? I like to use this sh*t to get sh*t clear. First of all, you cannot live without being affected by racism. People think that racism is like a situation when somebody calls you a ‘n*gga’ or certain things. Yea, that’s racism for sure. But, the real root of the sh*t is how the structure of it is all set up everyday. It’s influencing sh*t where you are. There may not be a white person for hundreds of miles. Take this telephone link up. Tell me a Black company that owns a satellite for cell phones. We invented the chip for the cell phones! We don’t have the resources because that person wasn’t allowed to own his own sh*t. Basically, we are second class citizens because of racism, capitalism, and imperialism from day one. This is from way back. When we say racism, we’re not talking about whether me and this white dude like hip-hop and got on some sneakers and sh*t. We’re talking about how racism is the American way, baby! It’s the European way! There’s wide crime happening. All the jails are filled with n*ggas like us. It is because of racism. You know what I mean?”
TODD E. JONES: “What have you been listening to in the last couple of days?”
STORMEY: “I’ve been banging that Dead Prez & Outlawz sh*t forever.”
stic.man: “I’ve been banging that ‘Soldier to Soldier’.”
STORMEY: “‘Soldier to Soldier’ LP on October 3rd!”
stic.man: “Yeah, bringing that sh*t you haven’t heard yet from Stormey. ‘Everything Is Yours’ coming out soon by Lloyd and Outlawz.”
STORMEY: “It’s going down.”
TODD E. JONES: “Stic, you recently wrote a book, The Art of Emceeing. Tell us about that and what else you have coming out soon.”
stic.man: “Y’all up on that? Cool. I’m doing many things, homie. I’m on my grizzly. I got a book out, The Art Of Emceeing. It’s 112 pages and comes with a free beat CD. It’s basically tips and different insights for emcees, song writers, and poets. It’s information that people can really use. It ain’t about the history of rap or how records are selling. None of that sh*t. It’s about the art and the technique. I write about writer’s block and conquering that, when you’re in the studio, vocal tracks, taking care of your voice, going back to back, getting shows, and sound check. I talk about publishing and controlling that without having to have a record deal. All of the aspects are what that book is about. It’s one of the first books that I know of that is written by an emcee for emcees. You have scholars and everybody else writing about hip-hop from the outside. Very few people, who actually do it, get the opportunity to express. I got to interview The Outlawz. They gave me a lot of valuable insight. Common did the forward to the book. We self published the book too from Boss Up Inc.
TODD E. JONES: “What is next for Dead Prez?”
stic.man: “We have the new website www.bossupbu.com where people can get at Dead Prez 24/7 for everything we got going on. If people want to help out with the movement or in different ways, they can help the Katrina victims. We have a link for that. They can help the Hands Off Assata campaign. We have a link for that. We are just going and building. We’re doing it independent with our chests out. Look for my solo album, coming out later this year. Look out for the new Dead Prez sh*t on top of 07.”
TODD E. JONES: “What is next for Outlawz?”
YOUNG NOBLE: “We have a stic.man and Young Noble album called, ‘Soldier To Soldier’ coming out on October 3rd. Classic! Classic! Get your hands on that one!”
TODD E. JONES: “What is the biggest misconception that people have of Dead Prez or The Outlawz?”
stic.man: “That we give a f*ck! (laughs). That we give a f*ck about whatever misconceptions that mutherf*ckas got. People think that we care while we are busy just being ourselves, doing what we do.”
TODD E. JONES: “What has been the biggest obstacle that you had to overcome through your hip-hop career?”
YOUNG NOBLE: “As far as the Outlawz, Tupac passed away and Kadafi past away right after that. The biggest obstacle for us is just keeping going. Right after Kadafi passed away, Fatal left the group. Maybe two or three years ago, Napoleon left the group. It was just a lot of sh*t. I guess, the perception of us was a major obstacle. Pac passed away and we were stuck on Death Row for like 2 years. Once we got off them, just are name alone had mutherf*ckas scared. It was like, ‘The Outlawz are coming? Let’s close the doors on these mutherf*ckas!’ We were like, ‘Damn!’ We didn’t even have our people on us. We were chilling. Just our name, the history we all have been through, and the little dramas that mutherf*ckas had to go through were obstacles. People weren’t like, ‘These n*ggas have lived through a whole bunch of sh*t. Let’s give them a shot.’ They were more like, ‘Nah, they are the crazy Outlawz’. Sure, we were a little young and retarded back in the day, but we passed that. We are on some grown man sh*t. We take care of our families. I think that our name was our biggest obstacle. We ain’t even tripping. We love it! We Outlawz for life, baby!”
stic.man: “That’s real tough, but it’s also your biggest blessing.”
YOUNG NOBLE: “No question.”
TODD E. JONES: “Did some people make things more difficult for you after 2Pac was murdered? Did some people make it hard for you to break the Tupac link or always link with Tupac?”
YOUNG NOBLE: “At the end of the day, it’s a good thing. Pac started the Outlawz. He was the first n*gga with the Outlawz to do something. People don’t realize that Pac was a member of Outlawz. We weren’t just some group, like it was Pac and then, there are the Outlawz. Pac was a part of Outlawz! Tupac was a member of Outlawz. He started Outlawz. He was in our group.”
TODD E. JONES: “What about you, Stic? What was your biggest obstacle?”
stic.man: “Wow! That’s a good question, Todd. My biggest obstacle is bigger than music. You know what I mean? On some real shi*t, my obstacle is just dealing with life while we are trying to do music. As far as the game is concerned, the perception of you bringing some revolutionary sh*t, some real sh*t, people put you in a box. Like, they put you on the white boy circuit or the skateboard circuit or whatever.”
TODD E. JONES: “They classify Dead Prez as alternative?”
stic.man: “Yeah, alternative. Don’t get me wrong. I’m a well-rounded person. A well-rounded person can communicate and appreciate all kinds of circles of people. If we want to have an international revolution, there is going to have to be all kinds of people in-tuned. At the same token, so many times, our community has been co-opted. As soon as you say anything considered intelligent, they say, ‘That’s for the white people or the Black guys with the glasses on.’ There is this perception from the industry. They will try to force feed. They will ask where we are from and then they will put us on this and have us doing that. The obstacle is our struggle of holding on to where we are from, our real intentions, who we are, how we want ourselves to be portrayed and presented in an industry that refuses to accept that the hood wants to be free. The industry doesn’t believe that. They don’t believe that. That’s a novelty idea in the industry. Our community is what produced us. Not to even try to put ourselves on the same level as Pac or Malcolm X, but the sentiment of the struggle came straight from the hood and nowhere else. That’s the root of where it is. Our job, mission, and assignment from our ancestors have been to be that bridge and make that clear. We do it with our music and how we walk with our lives. I think that we are doing it though. Mutherf*ckas are getting it clear. Mutherf*ckas are having a hard time keeping n*ggas in those boxes because we are gorillas. We rope-a-dope with it. We are on that Mohammad Ali fighting style, Bruce Lee fighting style. They don’t know where or when we are coming. They don’t know if n*ggas are gonna do a book next. They don’t know if mutherf*ckas are going to sing or do a movie. They don’t know what n*ggas are gonna do.”
TODD E. JONES: “Do you find that some white people interpret Black Power as racism?”
stic.man: “You know why that is not a major misconception for me? It’s because white people are not the center of my world. It can never be like that for me. White people always ask me if I’m racist or this or that. They think that they are the center of the conversation. I’m a loving human being, my n*gga! For real! But, I ain’t no fool and I ain’t no sucker. I’m not here to shake everybody’s hand just to make everybody happy. I’m here. You show me respect, I’ll show you respect. But, as far as the crackaz in the system, it’s been here before me and it’ll be here after me if we don’t do something about it. My thing is this. The way you develop real friendships and real solidarity with people is through the work that people do”
TODD E. JONES: “What do you think the white people should do if they want to support your movement?”
stic.man: “If white people want to have any solidarity with their struggle and they want to consider themselves a comrade on the right side of the question, the first and foremost thing they have to be about is reparations. They have to tell their daddies. They have to be telling their courts. They have to be telling everybody in their community to spend that money. They have to spread those resources, give up them buildings, and make them donations. Any goddamn resource that the Black community, the brown community, or the red community needs for our advancement, they have to come up off that. They owe us! They have to be about that on a legal level and on a street level. Lay down in front of a precinct, n*gga! If you give a f*ck, get your ass out there in the street and yell, ‘I ain’t gonna let you lock up no more n*ggas!’ Stand in front of the precinct and do that. Then, I’ll say, ‘Now, that’s a rider!’ As long as all someone is doing is listening to music, nothing will happen.”
TODD E. JONES: “Besides music, what do you suggest for inspiration?”
stic.man: “If you have or if you haven’t, read The Autobiography Of Malcolm X. You’re a white dude, right? You’re a cool white dude. You got an open mind, you know what I mean? You fuck with hip-hop and all of that. Read that shit. Even if you read it before, read it again and soak it up. Soak Malcolm up. Malcolm has got a way of explaining that shit. It don’t matter who you is, you’ll get that understanding.”
STORMEY: “It’s fucked up what happened to him, but we ain’t gonna let it ride though.”
TODD E. JONES: “Final words?”
STORMEY: “You can’t sell dope forever!”
YOUNG NOBLE: “Buy the album! ‘Can’t Sell Dope Forever’. One nation!”
stic.man: “Give thanks. I feel great, I’m smiling. Be you! One nation!”
THANK YOU DEAD PREZ and OUTLAWZ ! ! !
Interview by Todd E. Jones aka The New Jeru Poet
NOTICE: This interview is property of Todd E. Jones and cannot be duplicated or posted without written permission.
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