It’s been a bit of a rough several days at Casa de Chris, as we’ve had a major family health emergency, so things have been kind of hectic. In fact, until today, I hadn’t listened to a lot of music, which is weird for me, because I usually spend about 6-10 hours a day with music in my ears. Today I was finally able to sit down and listen to the new Dilated Peoples single that came out last week, ahead of the August release of their new album, Directors of Photography, their first since 2006. It’s pretty good, and I’ll get to it in a bit.
First, if you don’t know Dilated Peoples, and even many hip hop fans may not, they’re an underground trio consisting of two MCs, Evidence (Michael Perretta) and Rakaa Iriscience (Rakaa Taylor), and DJ Babu (Melvin Babu). They’ve been around since the late 90s, dedicating themselves to an old school sound that’s reminiscent of some of the more popular underground acts of the 90s, especially A Tribe Called Quest:
Though because of the similarity of their names, I’m always mistaking them for Digable Planets:
They achieved some popular success back in 2004 with the song at the top of the post, “This Way,” which features Kanye West, and one of my many favorite Kanye line: “I don’t know what’s better, gettin’ laid or gettin’ paid. I just know when I’m gettin’ one the other’s gettin’ away,” which ranks up there with “What you think I rap for? To push a fuckin’ RAV4?” (one of my neighbors drives a RAV4, and every time I see it that song pops into my head). However, they haven’t seen much popular success since. It would not be unreasonable to think of them as one hit wonders who’ve spent the rest of their careers making good but not particularly well known rap:
“Worst Come to Worst” shows you what they’re good at: Babu is an excellent DJ, and on top of him Evidence and Iriscience work really well together, as in this exchange:
Iriscience: And if mine are needy I need to feed mine
When worst come to worst…
Evicence: Set up shop and write a verse
Actually that’s best come to best.
My lyrics take care of me,
Get shit off my chest.
It’s not Shakespeare, and their lyrics — mostly about being really good rappers — are their weakest point, but the rapping and production are seamless. Here’s an even better example of that seamlessness:
I suppose it doesn’t hurt, when your lyrics are a weakness, to throw in some Talib Kweli. Who, by the way, has new music himself:
No desire for the lying and the violence
That’s inflicted on the body in a so-called party environment
Her body is politics
Lost count of how many whores she was called today
She won’t do it no more, lost all her faith
They say she exaggerate when she hollerate
But it’s only so much she can tolerate
Talib is one of many more well-known artists who’ve shown Dilated People support. Quest Love from the Roots has added them to the Okplayer stable, and of course there’s Kanye up top. And the new single was prouced by DJ Premier, a god among DJs since his days with Gang Starr (a couple n-words at the end):
Gang Starr are clearly another influence on Dilated Peoples (I almost typed Digable Planets), so Premier is a perfect fit:
Oh, and since I mentioned it, if you’re not hanging out on Okplayer’s website, you should be. Okplayer is Quest Love’s hip hop community/news site/record player/promotional company. The new local hip hop showcase here in Austin is partially sponsored by it, so I’m a bit biased, but it’s a great place to get hip hop news. Like Common’s new (NSFW!) single. “Kingdom”:
Or Dan Savage’s (also not even remotely safe for work, with a lot of n-words):
Anyway, you should be checking Okplayer out. And Dilated Peoples as well.