Honestly, I bullshit you not. I have never made any of my music buying selections based off an album cover. That's not to say that covers have never influenced my decision at least a little bit. I mean, I have never been to a record store and just bought a CD because I thought the cover was dope. I've almost been fooled by a couple of indie artist mixtapes I've snatched up, but never with albums.
When I choose to spend my money on music, I'm usually a fan of the artist or what I heard on the album already. Same goes for the stuff I choose not to buy. A cover itself never just made me say "oh hell naw, I ain't buying that shit." If anything it just supports my already made decision not to buy it.
That being said, I heard a few voices of displeasure over the cover for Stic.Man of Dead Prez's new solo album Manhood. People who were both die hard and fairweather fans of DPZ said they were turned off by the R&Bish looking cover. Me personally, I found nothing wrong with it. Dude just looked like he was relaxing. I'm not all the way sure if was trying to make a statement of anykind. If not for anything else, dead prez is known for bluntness. So I don't imagine the cover being subliminal. It just looked like he was chilling. Sure, its very light compared to the cover of Let's Get Free and not as straight forward as M-1's solo cover, but damn, was it that bad to write the man's album off as wack or soft? Was it that bad that folks didn't bother to peep the tracklisting and see what the songs were gonna be about?
Anyways, I got the album. And like most DPZ projects, it didn't disappoint. While it isn't as militant or "controversial" as many would expect, this album still drives many points home. The highlight of this album is that it speaks on the same topics heard on most albums today, but in a grown way. A grown way that goes beyond simply throwing on a certain type of clothing and labeling one's self "grown," yet still rapping about elementary things.
In a time when the most instruction a rap album gives is how cook dope, bust a gun or do a dance, its refreshing to hear an album talking about stacking bread and supporting the family By (almost) Any Means Necessary.
He has the usual "hustler on the grind" swagger type themes on songs like "Do It Big," which if you threw some more mundane lyrics on the beat, it would probably become a hit. But because its Stic and he isn't referring to pimpin' on a bitch or slanging dope, people probably will probably overstand the song. He adresses haters on "Get Yo Hustle" where he pretty much sums up his gift and curse when he says: "Let me show you how I'm on it, gangsta and concious, I ain't scared to change, its the only thing constant," and goes on to make an interesting point when he states "how can I call myself a Black power spokesman, with no plan and always broke man?"
Another dope thing about this album is that just like the other DPZ projects, they never present themselves as better than the next man. They come off as some regular cats. Especially on "That's What Men Do?" when he probably tapped into almost every Black man's mind when he said:
I ain't no pimp I ain't no player, I'm just true to myself/Why would I take from a woman what I can do for myself/I see the young homies thinking they grown, spitting their little game/Thinking that life is all about weed and a little chain/But fast forward 5 to 10 years and then it clicks/I've been hanging out wasting my time chasing these chicks/Now these chicks got apartments and jobs, pushing new cars/And we still borrowing change for cigars, can I holla at my dawgs?
This post is getting a little long so I'll sum things up by saying, if Young Jeezy is the Thug Motivator, Stic.Man is the yin to that yang. He's giving a people a good talking to on this album. He probably isn't going to touch as many lives and ears as 'Pac because he isn't a household name and doesn't have that rebellious energy that attracts cameras and attention. But he is damn close.
Plus, DPZ just like Public Enemy before them know how to make jammin' ass music while injecting a message. Like Chris Rock said, I don't hate concious music, I hate concious beats and Manhood has some tracks like "Traffic Jam" where you can just throw it on for sheer listening pleasure.
Seeing how intellegent hoodlums like Stic and Killer Mike are going out and securing their own independent situations, maybe we'll start seeing and hearing more music like this, because it is most definately needed.