Jay-Z has already snatched up Jay Electronica, J. Cole and WIllow Smith for his Roc Nation imprint. But one of the more intriguing names recently attached to the burgeoning roster is veteran political hip-hop duo dead prez.
In the past few months, rumors of a deal between Hov and the outspoken act (consisting of stic.man and M-1) began to pick up steam on the hip-hop message boards. But M-1 says that while there is some credence to early talks with Roc Nation, dead prez is staying independent.
“We respect Jay, but we are not signing to Roc Nation,” M-1 tells VIBE. “I’m a fan of what Roc Nation has been doing. I’m a fan of Jay-Z’s music and more than that I’m a fan of his mind…the way that he has positioned himself to make great moves in this business. I’m not one to think that our independence can be usurped by this great hype and potentially great machine that Jay is putting together.”
M-1 adds that dead prez’ self-sufficient mindset won’t stop future collaborations with the Roc Nation roster. "Just from watching that situation I see that [Roc Nation] are building themselves to be a formidable opponent to the Young Money’s and other labels,” he adds. “But I believe that we can take advantage of working with artists like Jay and Jay Electronica without giving up our rights to being whoever we want to be independently—which is really important to us right now.”
Dead prez first hit the scene with 2000’s classic street-meets-socially conscious release Let’s Get Free. Since the duo has collaborated with everyone from Kanye West (“It’s Bigger Than Hip-Hop” remix) and Jay-Z (“Hell Yeah—Pimp The System” remix) to the 2Pac affiliated Outlawz (Can’t Sell Dope Forever).
As for the future, M-1 says dead prez fans can expect new music in 2011. “We just finished our Information Age album,” he says. “We're also working with M.I.A on some new stuff. We're taking our time because we want to make the best impression.” —Keith Murphy