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It’s almost hard to believe that Dilated Peoples have been in the game almost twenty years, first appearing in 1995 on Immortal Records’ The Next Chapter compilation. While their first album, Imagery, Battlehymns, & Political Poetry was shelved by the label, their perseverance and independent grind would pay off in the years that followed, leading up to their official debut, The Platform on ABB Records. Largely a collection of now classic singles from their 12″ era, over time the group has built a solid, loyal fanbase who has stuck with them to this day.

Although the trio of Evidence, Rakka, and Babu took some time off to focus on their individual solo projects, they never really broke up, and the camaraderie is clear on their fifth official LP, Directors Of Photography. Taking on the roles of rap photographers, they document their life and times with a highly visual LP, one that paints a picture through their lyrics.

They easily slip back into their old roles on “Directions” and “Cut My Teeth”, both which kick off the LP in the classic Dilated fashion of hard-hitting drums and dirty piano samples. But as the album progresses, it really begins to find its groove, which is largely defined by brooding beats and slow flows, on songs like “The Dark Room” and the Diamond D helmed “Let Your Thoughts Fly Away”. The standout track of this set is the ridiculous basement banger, “Good As Gone”, where DJ Premier still shocks and amazes on the production.

They never really go for a raucous “Work The Angles” type of b-boy blazer, but instead aim to create tracks with feeling, such as on the soulful lead single, “Show Me The Way” featuring Aloe Blacc. This is the closest thing to a “commercial” record that they’ve done since “This Way” with Kanye West, but hardly sacrifices their sound or integrity in any way. It’s catchy, but still largely dark and bluesy.

Each member gets their solo time to shine as well. “Figure It Out” is still a track that features all three members, but allows Babu to take center stage on the cut for a good two-and-a-half-minutes, before anyone starts rapping. Ev goes for an LL “Going Back To Cali” flow, while Rakka juxtaposes with a double-time switch up. Later Rakka examines the links between politics and big business on “Century Of The Self”, while Evidence flies solo on “The Reversal”. Both are decent tracks, but truthfully they sound better together.

Overall a solid LP, it begins to lose steam towards the end of its lengthy 16 tracks (18 on the digital version). Since they are not trying to throw a bunch of things at radio to see what sticks, Directors Of Photography could have benefitted from trimming things down a bit. But then we might have missed out on those fun posse cuts like “Opinions May Vary” with Gangrene or “Hallelujah” with a buncha rappers.

At the end of the day, Dilated Peoples have proven to be much more than just a flash in the pan act, or leftover from the indie hip-hop era. While many of their peers have faded off into obscurity or disappeared completely, the DP’s still deliver a consistent product even two decades later.


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4 Responses to "Dilated Peoples – “Directors Of Photography” – @@@@ [Review]"
  • The Man the Myth says:

    Pretty good album, probably a 3 1/2@ for me. Some dope production and verses. I get bored listening to evidence and Rakka, they just don’t have that extra something that I look for. Like I said with Mega and Common, decent album, but nothing mind blowing.

  • arejayd87 says:

    waaaack. christ be realistic. so boring

  • Cykoloen says:

    The Man the myth, my exact words! Always appiciated Dilated, so i really wanted to love this, but both MC´gets to monotone, gets boring real quick.

  • Dayz says:

    Gotta agree guys, the skills have always been there and I try to like these guys more and I do truly appreciate their work but I don’t find myself spinning their stuff much.

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