Revolutionary But Gangsta Grillz (rightclick+download)
Over the years I've heard more than a few people say something along the lines of, "I wish someone with the lyrical integrity of Dead Prez would complement their message with some a them good beats that folk like Jeezy rhyme over." Usually this type of critique comes from any one of the 20/30-something year-old black women I'm close to in my life, who were able to thrive in urban environments similar to mine, and were culturally and socially bonded enough with working- and lower-class black boys and girls like themselves to develop an instinctual understanding of what's fresh (maybe even based on their instinctual physical reaction to those aforementioned beats).
My hood theory is that Dead Prez must have some of these priceless black women in their lives, and these hypothetical black women are helping get and keep Dread Prez on the path of something I guess I'd call relevant creative resistance -- "birthing new realities" as they put it on one of my favorite tracks from the mixtape, "The G In Me." Without these black women's input, I theorize you get something along the lines of Stic.Man's well-intentioned but clumsy, stubborn solo effort, "My Swag Is Up" (in other words, close but no cigar). From my anecdotal experience, an idea as timely as hooking Dead Prez up with T.I.'s DJ and Lil Wayne's infamous mixtape host, DJ Drama, that had the New York Times calling a hip-hop mixtape one of the year's best albums, had to have come from one of these uniquely, diplomatically equipped black women. Plus, there are original tracks on this project, which is always nice. Other highlights include, "Don't Waste It" (over Gucci Mane's Wasted), "Never Turn My Back" (over Sade's Turn My Back On You), "The Movement" (over Fabolous' Make Me Better), and "Malcolm Garvey Huey" (over Lloyd Bank's Beamer, Benz, or Bentley).