Artist: Dilated Peoples
Album: Expansion Team
Rating: 7.5 / 10
Reviewer: A to the L
The review of Dilated’s debut album “The Platform” was one of the most hotly discussed items of this website on its addition to the archive. My man Adrunk really went to town on DP, and so, as this site takes pride in giving its reviewers the chance to express their true feelings on hiphop releases, his 3 rating, though not being one I or many others agreed with, stood.
Onwards and upwards…
There’s a lot of hype surrounding the release of this Dilated album. People seem to be viewing DP as the great saviours of real hiphop, which has supposedly become increasingly bogged down and drowned out in a sea of jiggyness. Its a lot of extra weight to carry – lets hope they’ve got strong shoulders.
The first thing that hits me when listening to this is the beats. They are off the hook! Bringing Primo onboard was a masterstroke – his beat on ‘Clockwork’ is totally sick – easily one of the nicest beats I’ve heard this year. The scratched KRS chorus tops this off perfectly – Premier constantly astounds me in coming up with bangers that have his trademark sound all over them, yet still sound amazingly fresh.
Elsewhere, The Alchemist comes thru with some top notch production too – the first single ‘Worst Comes To Worst’, with its Mobb Deep chorus is hot. His other cut on here, ‘Panic’ is a more laidback cut, which kinda had me envisioning old black and white detective movies for some reason. Dragnet anyone?
The rest of the album is self produced and is pretty hot, bar four cuts. ‘Self Defence’ – a JuJu produced plodder, which is no more than a throwaway Beatnuts track, and is fairly uninspiring. ‘Trade Money’ is a typical Beatminerz cut – all horns and heavy drums, and thus must be called a banger. ‘War’ is produced by ?uestlove and despite containing some of the most thought-provoking lyrics on the album, is just a dull drum loop. ‘Expansion Team Theme’ is the outro cut, and production here is handled by Joey Chavez – an uptempo, though strangely sorrowful-sounding cut.
OK we’ve covered the beats and agreed that, for the most part, they are pretty damn good. Now what about the emcees?
One of the most common arguments that I hear from Dilated haters (Dihaters?) is that they never come with anything more than battle lyrics. “This is cool for one of two tracks, but I can’t suffer a whole album – I want variety.” etc etc.
Bad news for you guys – braggadocio rap is still in full effect on here. Personally I love it – I’m all about ill flows and witty punchlines. When I hear Rakka spitting “After 2 L’s I’m cool like James Todd Smith” on ‘Clockwork’, I’m grinning like a Cheshire cat. There’s no disputing the illness of this line. For the most part Rakka comes correct throughout, maintaining a fairly high standard of rhyming.
As for his partner in rhyme, Evidence? Well he takes a lot of flak from the Dihaters for his nasal flow, and unfortunately this is where I gotta agree with them. Whether its BECAUSE of their complaints that I’ve seemed to notice this aspect of his emceeing MORE on here than on “The Platform” I don’t know. I do notice it however – moreso at the start of the album than the end. The first couple of the cuts, yep even the Primo cut, are rendered almost unlistenable because of his lazy drawl.
I gotta give props to him too though – he produced the spooky ‘Heavy Rotation’ which features Tha Liks and is another incredible cut. Nice to see the Liks back on form.
Highlights of the album? The aforementioned Primo and Liks cuts and the Phil Da Agony appearances. Both Dilated members outshining Roots member Black Thought on ‘Hard Hitters’ – so badly its almost embarrassing. The love this group have for the deejay, Babu – bet you thought I forgot about him huh? DJ Babu, the World Famous Beat Junkie represents lovely throughout with his attacks on the turntables, and also produces the lion’s share of the album.
Summing up – the beats are superb and Rakka’s emceeing I’m feeling in a major way. However Evidence’s style pulls this down a little for me, and unfortunately he takes the blame for losing this a half a mark. Still definitely worth picking this up though, as the final score indicates.