This is a compilation Ive been wanting to put together for quite some time considering that "Let's Get Free" is one of my absolute favorite albums of the late '90s (though it was released in 2000, it was actually read for release in 1999 as proven by early promos that were sent out to DJ:s and radio stations). While "R.B.G." and some of their mixtapes had some bangers on there, stic.man and M1 never again came close to that unforgiving, impeccable Loud Records debut. What's even more interesting is in an interview with Lord Jamar about how he basically helped sign dead prez as well as producing some of the strongest cuts on the LP ("The Pistol", "Propaganda", "Psychology") he mentions how he felt that the duo started straying from the original path that built them their following into more commercial territory. Now this is definitely true if we look at the LP:s following "Let's Get Free", but the interview made it sound like he was actually talking about just that album. But then again, dope rapper and producer as he is, Jamar is known to say some pretty strange and outlandish things.
"Let's Get Free" did hit pretty big, much thanks to the anthem "Hip Hop" that received a lot of MTV play and gained the group a lot of recognition even from MTV fans, but to carachterize the album (or even the song) as something of a commercial nature is just absurd - not least considering the militant mindstate of stic.man and M1's lyrical offerings. However, dead prez did release a bunch of tracks recorded before or around the same time as "Let's Get Free" which together form a pretty damn fantastic compilation that I've been working on and wanted to share with my loyal Lost Tapes readers.
Sometime in 1998 LOUD Records released an early "sampler" tape for "Let's Get Free"; known as "The Red Tape" because of the slip-case it came in. What's interesting is that none of the three songs included on this cassette did actually appear on the subsequent album, and it's also noteworthy that they all appeared in their full versions. The real title of the tape is really "These Are The Times" however and could therefore be viewed as a promo single for the otherwise unreleased title track. The tape also includes the '97 underground classic "Food, Clothing & Shelter" as well as an original demo version of "Happiness" which in fact sound a lot better than the version that would later appear on "Let's Get Free". This version of the llatter was in fact also given an official release on a dead prez record as the B-side to the "Mind Sex" 12", released in 2000. All of these tracks are included on "Prelude to FREEDOM" in addition to nine other non-album tracks recorded between 1997 and early 2000 - in other words all released dead prez tracks leading up to their rightfully acclaimed debut album. The only song I wasn't entirely sure to include was the 2Pac tribute "U R Ripping Us Apart" as it sounds quite different from the rest of the batch, stil lyrically it's a very strong cut and as far as the tme frame goes it should be included so there you go. Also a big shout out to my man Fritz for helping me find a good version of "Cop Shot" which of course was absolutely essential to make this comp work!
To sum it up, the 12 tracks presented here are lifted from the so called "Red Tape", soundtracks, compilations and the ocassional guest feature. They all feature the same type of high quality pro-black lyricism and ruff-neck yet melancholy production that made "Let's Get Free" the classic it is. Don't sleep on this as it should be viewed as a ccompanion piece to the debut of the most revolutionary hip-hop group since Public Enemy and Brand Nubian.
01. "The Rain & The Sun: Intro" (w. Big Pun)
02. "Cop Shot"
03. "Dem Crazy" (w. The Marley Brothers)
04. "Food, Clothes & Shelter"
05. "Sellin' D.O.P.E."
06. "These Are The Times (Novus Ordo Seclorum)"
07. "Look Around"
08. "U R Ripping Us Apart!"
09. "Sharp Shooters" (w. Talib Kweli)
10. "Happiness: Red Tape Version"
11. "Bluesanova: Lord Jamar Mix"
12. "The Game Of Life (Score)"