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For Dead Prez's M-1, Trump's Win Didn't Prove Anything He Didn't Already Know

It's only fitting that the most political of hip-hop groups, Dead Prez, would be touring during an election year. The duo, consisting of emcees M-1 and stic.man, have rapped for decades against power structures, war, and inequality. Or, as M-1, a resident of Miami for the last six years, puts it: "We created revolutionary content that is still relevant today."

Dead Prez — which will be performing this weekend at the Hangar's upcoming Fadenfest alongside Otto von Schirach, Gorilla Pussy, and more — got its start at Florida A&M University in 1990, the historically black college where M-1 and stic.man met. "Tallahassee was a two-stoplight town compared to where I grew up in New York," M-1 remembers. "But Tallahassee became our testing ground for songs. It introduced us to Southern music and helped shape Dead Prez."

That shape filled in with the release of 2000's Let's Get Free, an album jam-packed with songs seemingly ripped from the headlines of 2016, like "They Schools," a track about the racism inherent in America's education system, and "Police State," a song dealing with racially charged police brutality. That album also featured "Hip-Hop," a song that found a wider audience and was used as the walkout music on each episode of Chappelle's Show.

But Dead Prez offered more than just social commentary. "So many people told me they got married, made a baby, or proposed to 'Mind Sex.'"

But hip-hop is much different now than it was back in 2000. M-1 even sees a difference in his own songwriting style. "I came up in an environment that's about the word. Nina Simone, Gil Scott-Heron, Maya Angelou. Now, melody is everything for me in driving my latest work. It used to be all about content. What do I want to say?"

His new home of Miami helps bring some inspiration. "I live down here with my wife and child. I love Miami life," he says. "I connect to local artists, and it's been a wonderful place to recoil from what New York brings, where there's no breathing room. If you do New York too long, you don't get to see that later part of life."

But that's not to say M-1 is slowing down now. He released a solo album earlier this year called Between Me and the World, which he collaborated on with Italian producer Bonnot. There's also a new Dead Prez album due out next year to be produced by Bassnectar. "The songs aren't ready to be heard yet, but it's different. Our old songs are still relevant, so I don't want to remake them."

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His thoughts on the country's people in power haven't changed much from when Dead Prez first burst on the scene. A few days before the election, when we spoke to M-1, he wasn't too impressed with either presidential nominee — or the idea that voting is a noble act. "The system needs an overhaul," he told us. "I don't want to legitimize the system. We vote with more than just the ballot. Make your everyday lifestyle a vote so corporations don't control our lives."

It doesn't seem Trump's win has shaken this belief either. The night of the election, M-1 Tweeted out, "We been livin' in Trump's Amerikkka, watch us get free still!!"

But M-1 thinks a Dead Prez live show is strong enough to satisfy even those who disagree with his philosophies. "We're seasoned veteran emcees and musicians who know what we're aiming for. Our shows are based from a time when hip-hop was full of energy.You might not agree with everything we say, but you'll definitely be engaged."

Fadenfest with Dead Prez and others. 7 p.m. Saturday, November 19, at The Hangar, 60 NE 11th ST
Miami; Tickets cost $20 to $40 via fadenfest.brownpapertickets.com.

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