Dilated Peoples - 20/20

2006-08-28 10:22
The razor sharp rhymes are still there, flitting between daring and effortless, while DJ Babu gets to flex his mixing and scratching skills to far greater effect. The subtleties in the backing, and the star guest appearances (Talib Kweli and Defari), create a richer and more varied sonic palette than on their previous albums, making this their most ambitious. From this description, can probably guess whether you'll think they've sold out, or you'll embrace Dilated Peoples circa 2006, but all hip hop fans should give this album a listen before making any final calls.

As well as showing progression and maturity, 20/20 presents the band at their most diverse, with elements of funk, soul, gospel, and rock creeping into their songs. This album is also their most hook-laden effort to date, and in a better world, their singles would be up there in the charts, alongside 50 cent and the aging Snoop. Dilated Peoples have something to say, and they say it with style. The urgent sounding "You Can’t Hide You Can’t Run" would make a fantastic single, with it’s gospel sample, and triumphant fist pumping chorus, and it's not the only one. Makes you wonder why these guys aren’t huge.

The album’s only weakness is the occasional rhyme that delves too far into postmodern name-dropping, which is tantamount to preaching to the converted. Dilated Peoples fans are self consciously smart and pop culture savvy, and it feels awfully redundant when they reel off lists of politicians or entertainers. It doesn’t happen to often thankfully, and if you already a fan, you’ll know they’ve been doing it since day one. Intellectual muscle flexing unfortunately detracts from the street cred and overall honesty that this album exudes, but it is easy enough to overlook.

For many people, the multitude of arguments surrounding commercial vs. underground might seem more important than the music, but it would be wise to look past all those opinions, and pick up this album, because you’d be hard pressed to find a more solid hip hop offering this year. Let’s hope we see them on these shores at some point in the not too distant future as Rakaa says on Olde English, “Call my travel agent, have her arrange, South America, South Africa and South East Asia” . I’m holding thumbs.

- Ivan Sadler
"Underground" hip hop stars Dilated Peoples face accusations that they're "selling out", but deliver a mature fourth album, ranking among their best work.

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Juice 2007/05/31 4:46 PM
Automatic I'm probably 1 of the first people to buy any album by LA's finest. I don't even have to listen before i buy. From the Platform -> Expansion Team -> Neighbourhood Watch and 20/20, their music is timeless. Their production skills and collaborations with guys like Talib, Planet Asia and Defari keeps Evidence and Rakaa at their peak. I'm looking forward to their next offering. At the meantime, i'll keep my ears and eyes open for that pit-stop in South Africa.
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