For me, when I look at it, I look for cutting edge traditionalism.- Iriscience

The backbone of hip hop is the DJ - Triple Optics

Dilated Peoples are an old school west coast hip hop trio. Similar to Jurassic 5 their music harks back to the early days of DJ-centric hip hop. Around 1992 Evidence and Iriscience, born Rakaa and often known as Akaa, came together after hearing each other perform at open mic sessions at the Hip Hop Shop in Los Angeles. However they had run into each other before this on the LA graffiti scene. After deciding to record together they christened themselves Dilated Peoples. The duo worked with the likes Redman, Key Swift and Xzibit having secured a deal with Immortal/Epic. However they didn't make their marks as they had hoped and around 1995 they got out of the contract.

However it was not until 1997 that the group really started working when Rakaa and Evidence recruited World Famous Beat Junky, DJ Babu. Babu knew Rakaa through a mutual friend and Rakaa kept on bugging him to come and work with Dilated. Babu was really busy DJing and spinning his favourite record, Dilated's Third Degree. Eventually Dilated and Babu ended up in the studio together and the result was that in 1997 they released their first records on AAB records. These vinyls, Work the Angles, The Main Event and Triple Optics, were big hits on the underground and Triple Optics really fired Dilated onto the world hip hop scene. In the same year that Jurassic 5 emerged from the same LA underground scene Dilated showed the world their new blend of turntablism and hip hop that was to form the basis for a rejuvenation of west coast hip hop.

However it was not until May 2000 that Dilated dropped their first LP, The Platform. The album impressed hip hop fans the world over and triggered the move of the revivalist hip hop from the underground to more a mainstream market. With artists like J5 and the Roots promoting their own versions of this new old style Dilated flipped onto the scene at a great time.

After a year of touring with the likes of Rage Against the Machine, Gangstarr, Talib Kweli and Hi-Tek and Jurassic 5, Dilated got back into the studio to produce their next LP, Expansion Team. Released in October 2001 the album sees another excellent offering from the revivalist trio. They hit the charts with Worst Comes to Worst, an excellent downbeat track really showcasing Babu's scratching skills. Dilated continue to grow from strength to strength, they have begun to master the laid back west coast sound and the addition of Babu on the decks lends a masterful twist to their music.

Babu is often the ignored or forgotten member of the trio, he is a true master of the turntable, he doesn't argue or fight or shout about his views, his decks express him and they do it eloquently. While tracks like Live on Stage and Service show off his top notch skills his subtle presence on every track lends an interesting and unusual side to Dilated. As Iriscience puts it in Dilated Junkies, "It's a dangerous man who can speak with his hands".

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The Platform, 2000, Capitol Records

"The Platform is a very significant building block in Dilated's ongoing construction" - AMG
  1. So May I Introduce to You
  2. The Platform
  3. No Retreat
  4. Guaranteed
  5. Right On
  6. The Main Event
  7. Service
  8. Ear Drums Pop
  9. Years in the Making
  10. Annihilation
  11. Expanding Man
  12. The Last Live of Defense
  13. Triple Optics
  14. The Shape of Things to Come
  15. Work the Angles
  16. Ear Drums (Remix)

This excellent first offering lacks a little coherency. More a compilation of their work from the past three years rather than musical unit the LP nevertheless sees Dilated Peoples setting up shop and refusing to pander to modern standards. Like other revival west coast outfit Jurassic 5 Dilated tout the importance of the DJ and this is a hip hop album about beats and lyrics, not catchy loops and gimmick themes.

Expansion Team, 2001, Capitol Records

"The music is something else, sophisticated, jazzy on a few numbers, occasionally funky and varied for a rap album" - AMGM
  1. Live On Stage
  2. Worst Comes To Worst
  3. Clockwork
  4. Trade Money
  5. Heavy Rotation
  6. Self Defense
  7. Phil Da Agony Interlude
  8. Proper Propaganda
  9. Dilated Junkies
  10. Panic
  11. Pay Attention
  12. Night Life
  13. War
  14. Hard Hitters
  15. Defari Interlude
  16. Expansion Team Theme

Superb, this album must me put on the stereo for immediate slow-rolling hip hop satisfaction. Pay Attention and Worst Comes to Worst allow you to simply marvel in the new direction that west coast hip hop has taken. The same reviewer quoted above goes on to criticise Dilated's MCs, their lyrics and their flow. While not the most accomplished MCs in the world (War for example) they are by no means incompetents and even more than in the Platform Babu takes centre stage. The backbone of this LP is undoubtedly the DJ and Evidence and Iriscience slot in nicely around him.

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