dead prez & The Outlawz – Can’t Sell Dope Forever

dead prez & The Outlawz - Can't Sell Dope Forever Artist: dead prez & The Outlawz
Album: Can’t Sell Dope Forever
Label: Affluent Records
Rating: 3/5

Hip-Hop
has gotten angry over the years. Not in a totally negative way, though.
Sure every rapper is a gangster these days with an arsenal of guns under
their bed and kilos of coke hidden in their walls, but positive
rap has even gotten “gangsta.” A decade and a half ago we had groups
like Brand Nubian and a little more hardcore was Public Enemy. What’s
really fucked up is that while he was alive, Tupac was not perceived
by the media as a positive rapper. But the more hip-hop is embedded
in every day life, misconceptions like this get cleared up. The Florida
natives Stic-Man and M-1, collectively known as Dead Prez, refuse to
sugar-coat anything. They talk about guns, weed, drugs and prostitutes,
with wholehearted positive intentions. Revolutionary But Gangsta,
is the title of their 2004 album, but is also the three best words to
describe them. With intense focus on social and political issues it
is no wonder Dead Prez has teamed up with Tupac’s protégés, the
Outlawz, to make Can’t Sell Dope Forever.

Not
too many people have really checked for the Outlawz since the Still
I Rise
album, having been overshadowed by Pac’s greatness. As Kastro
humbly admitted to AllHipHop.com, “I feel special because Pac sold
40 million records… But not one of those people bought those albums
because I was on it, to be perfectly honest.” Lyrically, the Outlawz
have neither fallen off nor stepped it up, which keeps them on the same
lyrical level as Dead Prez. There is no “Big L type” lyricism that
will blow you away, but the lyrical content reflects education and dedication
to the alleviation of our nation’s degradation. ( wasn’t that Al
Sharpton esque)

Just
the idea of these two groups collaborating, gives a sense of the what
the album is about. If not, then the title should give it away. Not
very often do rappers make albums that stay consistent in theme, in
relation to the album title, not just the title track. Track #2 “1
Nation” properly sets the tone, urging people to stop senseless violence
and regional animosity in hip-hop. As the hook goes “On the North
side, we got the same drama. On the South side, we got the same drama.
On the West side, we got the same drama. So it’s one side, one love,
one thug, one nation.” The opening verse encourages nonviolence
but suggests an Augustinian type “just warfare.” “Now we could
hop off into some gangsta shit, or reverse this shit and get our real
enemies/ Nigga you look just like me, what sense do it make killin each
other in their streets/ Listen up, all these guns we got between us/
we could point em the right way and come the fuck up/ Dope money and
turf aint worth your life/ Doin it for the struggle, that’s how you
earn your stripes.”” On an album chock full of lackluster beats
the fast paced drums on ““1 Nation” make it the only head-nodder
on the album.

Followed
by the title track, the album begins to sound redundant, though “Can’’t
Sell Dope Forever” has a lesser quality beat than “1 Nation,”
the lyrics remain average, at best, while delivering the same message.
“Aint too many dope dealers retiring/ and aint too many old prostitutes
vacationing on the islands/ instead of knockin em down, my focus is
to inspire em.” The disappointing title track happens to
be followed by the highlight of the album. One of Stic-Man’s two dolo
tracks, “Like A Window,” starts off as a heartfelt letter to Stic’s
crack addicted older brother. The smooth beat complements his flow with
soft drums and melodic keys. Lyrically Stic-Man is at his best, superior
wordplay all geared in a certain direction, sending a clear message.
He opens up the second verse continuing the letter to his brother but
then going further in depth into the cause of societal conditions.
“We get trapped in a cycle of pain and addiction/ and loose the motivation
to change the condition… Why the ones we call government be the main
causes/ behind why all the dope be commin through the boarders/ Television
reporters got the facts distorted/ makin scapegoats of every black youth
on the corner/ It’’s a war even though they don’t call it a war/
it’s a chemical war/ unleashed on the black and the poor/ and who
benefit?/ The police, lawyers and judges/ The private owned prison industry
with federal budgets/ All them products in the commissary, tell me who
profits/ it’s obvious/ and it’s goin too good for them to stop it.”

The
next track seems to deviate from the positive theme. “Thuggin on the
Blokk,” glorifies and encourages the same attitude and activities
that the rest of the album is against. But even the bible contradicts
itself. Actually Cant Sell Dope Forever is more consistent than
the bible. Stic-Man’s other dolo joint, which features his mother,
Ms. Nora, “Believe” picks up where “Like a Window” left off.
Stic goes in depth about the societal evils but aims at uplifting peoples
self esteem and “Breaking free from these chains.”

Overall
the album is not a disappointment because a classic should not be expected
of Dead Prez & the Outlawz. It is pretty wack, however. The beats
fail to impress and like I said the rhymes are average at best, except
for Stic-Man’s dolo tracks. The messages are strong and will leave
an impact on anyone who listens deeply, but in the car it’s a “windows
up” kind of album. More than anything, this album is sure to stir
up mad “if Pac was here conversations,” it’s like Tupac’s mind
but minus the talent.

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