Right around the time I swore off mixtapes, writing reviews and anything Rapmullet I stumbled upon Dead Prez’ new album Information Age. It was October of 2012. The Taliban had just tried to assassinate Malala while she walked home from school and Hurricane Sandy was about to curb stomp the Northeastern US. The latest Dead Prez album found its way onto my radar. Being the mixtape fiend that I was, both the DJ Green Lantern aided “Pulse of the People” and DJ Drama laced “Revolutionary But Gangsta Grillz” received substantial play with me so “Information Age” was a must listen.
I don’t know when you became collapse aware, you might not even be conscious of it now. I mean I don’t know how you can’t be at this point but I digress. Back when I graduated from high school (1992) climate change was a thing. I was aware but not THAT aware. It was discussed in school, a viable topic on campus and natural and sustainable products were making their way to the school store. Truth be told I brushed it off as “tree huger” things. My ignorance was bliss. Fast forward to 2008. Credit default swaps, economy in free fall, rich people being bailed out, gas prices booming, wide spread evictions, housing debacle…you should already know..
After my first listen to Information Age my very first thought was: “wtf did I just listen to?”.
Lets see what Dead Prez had to say leading up to the release of Information Age:
Stic said: This album represents a different approach to the dead prez message,” he explains. “There is growth, creativity, a lot of lyrics, a lot of information…it’s basically a creative, conceptual album that throws every convention out the box.
M-1 said: The album was created based on what our spirits called for… and reflects our journey since our last release.
Let’s see what others had to say about Information Age when it was initial released:
The human epitome of a wet blank that is known as Jayson Greene from Pitchfork said on 11/9/12:
All the courage in the world, however, could not salvage Information Age, in which the duo scraps every compelling element of its music and go full Enya. Give them credit: this, too, was anything but predictable. (Or perhaps the herbal tea, incense, and croutons of “Mind Sex” telegraphed all this to the observant years ago.) In interviews about the album, they’ve namechecked Afrika Bambaataa, dubbing the sound they’ve settled on here as “soul sonic,” but the album feels like a Relaxation Spa compilation breathing softly on your neck hairs. It’s a disheartening take on an old story, the one where well-established, respected artists tack bravely out into “new territory” and, well, just completely lose everyone. But Information Age doesn’t work as enlightenment, as rap music, or as anything else, really. You can’t bob your head to it; you can’t learn anything from it. This is music that fails at everything it tries to do.
Adam Fleischer from XXLmag said on 10/16/12:
In concert with the suggestion of the title, the album places a focus on knowledge and the pursuit of it, while also attempting to grapple with the evolution of technology and its effects. Lyrically, the veteran wordsmiths more or less stick within the larger context of this theme, though sometimes, like on “Time Travel,” there’s something left to be desired. Sonically, too, it seems they have considered the ramifications of technological development, as the production here is more electronically-based and widely influenced than in the past.
John King from Parle Mag said on 10/31/12:
From the first minute to the last second, the album Information Age plays like a warning to all that will listen to expand your mind and cleanse your body. This album is years ahead of it’s time in regard to its content and is a positive album that can illuminate the minds of young and old alike. Once again, Dead Prez break the mold of contemporary Hip-Hop and really change the minds and beliefs of those who take the time to listen.
It’s a mixed bag of hate it or love it, a quick duck duck go search and its more postive than negative. I’d be lying if I said that first listen wasn’t a trying one. I kept listening though and it became one of my favorite albums of all time. That sounds like a stretch but hear me out.
I like to think we all have tent pole moments in life. Events that prop up, support and shape your future. I take that from the tent pole marketing ethos. I feel like we have albums and songs in our life that correspond with those tent pole moments. It’s the soundtrack of that period in time. The theme music. One of the first tent pole albums for me was Jeru the Damaja’s The Sun Rises in the East and of course Information Age is another one of my tent pole albums.
This is what I know about Information Age the album. Dead Prez had a message. How do you get an important message out to as many people as possible? You kind of have to have mass appeal. That’s why I think the beats sound the way they do. It’s a international almost electro sound. This was a global warning to everyone. Beats are simplified and even dance worthy. Bars are not super complex and they don’t need to be with the message they’re conveying. It’s all straight forward and I feel like that’s intentional. Is that what I wanted to hear? No, but it’s what I needed to hear at the time.
The intention of this feature story is not to break down Information Age the album or review it almost 10 years later in detail. The intention is to highlight it’s existence and relevance in the world we live in today. It was slept on and it’s relevant today. I want you to go listen to the album. Draw your own conclusions and be open to their message. I want you as the Rapmullet reader to soak up some game and understand that the things in this album are happening right now and will be discussed in this new version of Rapmullet 2.0, whatever that will be. I pay attention to these things, it’s a gift and a curse.
The human wet blanket Jayson Greene in his review also shit on the album artwork and I felt it relevant to highlight the thought process of making that artwork in THIS article. It’s a decent read. Also fuck Jayson Greene. Normally I wouldn’t care about what a critic thinks but damn did he miss the mark with that analysis. Being overly critical just to do it is why reviews of any kind have lost their relevance in this day. I’ve read so many old Rapmullet reviews and editorials that I wrote that are cringe worthy to me now. The human wet blanket Jayson Greene will have to discover his cringe-worthy-ness on his own.