Dead Prez and The Outlawz - conducted by Todd E. Jones  

The Audio-Political Methadone

August 2006

MVRemix: Stic, you have an incredible song on the 'Can't Sell Dope Forever' LP and 'Turn Off The Radio: Get Free Or Die Tryin' CD called 'Window', which is about coping with your brother being a heroin addict. Thanks, man.

MVRemix: In your opinion, how does someone overcome that situation, or help a loved one overcome addiction?

Young Noble: Stic, let me take this? As far as me, I relate to it too. I moved to Jersey when I was 6 years old. I moved to Montclair. I moved from Cali. My brother was a young Crip. He wound up shooting somebody when he was like 15. So, they shipped him to Jersey. He was out there doing time as an adult. He had to leave California and had to do like 7 to 10 years. So, they shipped him to Jersey. My brother starting using that sh*t when he got out there. When he got out of high school, was when I think he started really f*cking with that sh*t. That was real. I'm 28 right now. My brother just got locked up maybe about a month ago. He's been locked up, in and out of jail, getting back on that sh*t. It's the same sh*t. Me, personally? It's like a line that Stic said in the song. He said, '.I can't let you terrorize Mom Dukes / I'm feeling like I'm a have to cut you loose' I'm feeling like I have done so much for my brother. It was like I love him so much that I can't do nothing for him. You can keep giving him money. What you going to do if a muthaf*cka won't allow you to help him if they don't allow no help for themselves? What can you do? You really can't do nothing. There's really nothing you can do but say, 'I love my family but I can't do nothing for you. You have to be willing to try to break this sh*t and want something better for yourself. If you continue, you're just going to be locked up or you're just going to die.' You know what I mean? Get aids? Anything. The problem is more than individuals. Chemical addiction and the dope that's out here is bigger than love. The sh*t is strong than love, G! How about that? That's a reality that we deal with. Together, what can we do? Take, for example, the Nation Of Islam. Malcolm X was a junkie. How about that? Malcolm was a junkie and he was able to come back. Look at Huey Newton. Huey was a cocaine user. Look what he was able to contribute to our community. What can you do? It's about having a network, a family, a community, a gang, an organization, a clergy, or whatever it's going to take. It's going to take people who are organizing themselves to provide them rehabs, to give those colonics to clean out their systems, to sit with those fiends when they are going through those heroin withdrawals, and all that. We need a community effort. They have to forgive you over and over and over. They have to point the finger and give you the right political education. It's not just religion. A lot of people call that jailhouse religion. Say, I go to jail, find God, and now, I'm righteous? Nah, we need political education because the same conditions in the prison are here when we come home. Long story short, I don't want to beat it in the head, but it takes a community effort. It deals with money and resources. We need to put that money up. I see Oprah Winfrey speaking about how hard she had it coming up. Well, put some money into the Malcolm X Grass Roots Movement. Give them money so they can open a rehab. Healing! It takes a community effort and resources. That's what it takes. Dr. Mutulu Shakur, who was like Tupac's step-pop, was one of the lead people who had a cure in place for drug addiction at The Lennox Hospital in New York City. They locked him up like he was a terrorist. He cured heroin addiction with acupuncture. The masters and the leaders, who we have in the U.S.A., got him locked up, calling him a criminal.

MVRemix: Since 'Can't Sell Dope Forever' was a collaboration album between Outlawz and Dead Prez, how was the creative process different?

Young Noble: As far as I'm concerned, it wasn't really different. We just do what we do. This is me, speaking about The Outlawz. We just do music. It ain't no extra hard process. We just go into the studio and come from the heart with this sh*t. That's just what you hear. It's simple to me, but it's different for everybody.

Stormey: I don't see a difference with it at all. We get in the studio and we find a track that suits both of us. Then, we rock with it. We move forward. It was different for me. It was definitely different because of the time I usually take to make music is a lot longer, for one. Number two, there were so many brothers contributing to the work load. When I say 'contributing', I don't mean just rapping. They were contributing. It's a production to make an album. We have so many generals, who are not just industry. We had generals who help make that whole sh*t happen. In the past, the thing falls all on me. For me, this was like a blessing to be with other people with drive to get sh*t done. I didn't have to think if this n*gga was going to be trying to front with his verse because these Outlaw n*ggas are real dudes. All of that was already a given.

MVRemix: Do you have a favorite song on the 'Can't Sell Dope Forever' album?

Stormey: 'I Believe' and 'Fork In The Road' for me.

Young Noble: Mine are 'I Believe I Can' and '1 Nation'. All of that sh*t is hot. Man, I'll list the whole thing. I like 'Fork In The Road', 'I Believe' and I like that Layzie Bone joint, 'Came Up'.

MVRemix: How did Outlawz and Dead Prez hook up for this collaboration album? Stormey and a young comrade named, Zyad. Zyad is a real, real, real good solider right there. Of course, we grew up listening to Pac and The Outlawz from day one. We've been in the same struggle and the same scrap, youth marts, and all kinds of sh*t. I moved to Atlanta. The young homie, Zyad was one who was helping me. He was like, 'Yo! Man! Y'all need to link up with the Lawz! They out here and sh*t.' Is that how I met you, Storm?

Stormey: Yeah, I came to the studio.

Young Noble: Everything just lined up and we started kicking it and it was much more than music. We did that and have that in common, but it wasn't only about that. You know what I mean? There were other things. It was comfortability. They were two of the finest Black men who were trying to do something. That's the basis of it. Out of that, came the responsibility of this album.

MVRemix: What was the last incident of racism you experienced?

Young Noble: Whoa! We were in Moscow, about a month ago. As far as concerts, they loved us. It was bananas. When we got back to the airport to leave, it was a lot of racism in the airport. It almost felt like these mutherf*ckas were trying to keep us there. They were being real rude about it. I couldn't believe it. It was like they were trying to squeeze our nuts or something. We needed an invitation to come to Russia. You have to go to the Russian Embassy and take out all of this money to go over there. We paid for a whole month. Instead of our invitation saying that we had 30 days to be out there, our invitation said we had like 5 days, the day we got there and the day we were supposed to leave. They made the mistake. It wasn't like we made the mistake. We left the day after we were supposed to leave. Our invitations were expired and we had to pay all of this money. It wasn't like they were trying to help us to make our flight. They knew that they had our money. They were taking our time, being real rude to us, and looking evil to us. I was heated. These muthaf*ckas wanted us to stay out here! Basically, we paid for new flights. It felt like they wanted us to miss our flight, so we had to pay for some more flights. They were like 'Y'all n*ggas stay out here and sleep on the goddamn curb. We don't give a f*ck'. That's what it felt like. That's what they did to us. That's what it felt like. It didn't feel like racism, it was racism. They were looking at us real evil. Then, this white person would come up and have a smile on his face. The airport people were like, 'Come up in front of them' and they would kick our bags to the side. They were tripping.

Stormey: That's what they did. Let me add on too. Racism as a concept? I like to use this sh*t to get sh*t clear. First of all, you cannot live without being affected by racism. People think that racism is like a situation when somebody calls you a 'n*gga' or certain things. Yea, that's racism for sure. But, the real root of the sh*t is how the structure of it is all set up everyday. It's influencing sh*t where you are. There may not be a white person for hundreds of miles. Take this telephone link up. Tell me a Black company that owns a satellite for cell phones. We invented the chip for the cell phones! We don't have the resources because that person wasn't allowed to own his own sh*t. Basically, we are second class citizens because of racism, capitalism, and imperialism from day one. This is from way back. When we say racism, we're not talking about whether me and this white dude like hip-hop and got on some sneakers and sh*t. We're talking about how racism is the American way, baby! It's the European way! There's wide crime happening. All the jails are filled with n*ggas like us. It is because of racism. You know what I mean?

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"I don't see a difference with it at all. We get in the studio and we find a track that suits both of us. Then, we rock with it. We move forward."