Dead Prez Releases "Turn off the Radio: The Mixtape Vol. 1"

Despite a dispute with their previous home at Loud that has temporarily stripped M1 and Sticman of their Dead Prez moniker, the pair continues to run with the same politically aware baton first witnessed in their 2000 debut, Lets Get Free, with the whole messy experience only strengthening their militant resolve. The music itself makes like a sonic freight train, with orchestral rises and inventive percussive patterns pushing things along with considerable power, while the lyrical subject matter is dominated by fighting the dark forces of oppression. Whether concerned with George Bush, club dress codes, or hip-hop's ongoing predilection with bling, DPZ's informed words echo the thoughts of predecessors Chuck D and KRS-One, with the only weak links coming in their occasional misguided foray into R&B -- the soul keys of "B.I.G. Respect" most notably out of place amongst the incitement excitement of "We Need a Revolution" and the pleas of "Hit Me, Hit Me." These blips are few and far between, however, and do little damage to an otherwise superbly executed LP, where contributions from the Beatnuts, Peoples Army, and the Coup and an inspired spoken cameo from Cameo's Larry Blackmon only broaden the appeal of an already impressive body of work.