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RapReviews Artist of the Decade Series - Dilated Peoples

RapReviews Artist of the Decade Series - Dilated Peoples

Realizing the decade is nearly up, Jesal 'Jay Soul' Padania decided to start a series of special features. The aim is simple: to find out precisely who the " Artist of the Decade" is - and reward them of course. RR writer Matt Jost has picked up the mantle laid down by Jay Soul and is taking his turn to take a look at Dilated Peoples.

While there were plenty of them in what is often referred to as the Golden Age, post-1994 rap groups have had a hard time establishing themselves as major players in rap music. OutKast, MOP, UGK, Three 6 Mafia, Bone Thugs-N-Harmony and The Roots are undisputed, but several who were off to a promising start for whatever reason never quite got to hip-hop legend status - as a group, that is (Tha Dogg Pound, The LOX, Goodie Mob, Capone-N-Noreaga, Jurassic 5, Blackalicious, Nappy Roots, Non Phixion, Company Flow, Slum Village). Some remain contenders (Jedi Mind Tricks, Atmosphere, Clipse, Little Brother), some remain under the radar (CunninLynguists, People Under The Stairs), but there is one group that has struck a particularly effective balance between underground fame and broader recognition - Dilated Peoples.

The LA trio of DJ Babu, Rakaa Iriscience and Evidence has been present for the greater part of the decade, in 2007 however celebrating their new-found freedom from major label patronizing with a release whose visual aspects weighed decidedly heavier than the music, that's why "The Release Party" is not included in this consideration.

"The Platform" (2000)
Since a Dilated album had been "Years in the Making," their official debut presented a crew that was well prepared with "a full spectrum of flavors that's robust." After a rather backpackerish beginning in the form of the title track, "The Platform" soon rises to the Y2K challenge. Featuring highly promising Evidence production as well as notable contributions from Kutmasta Kurt ("Work the Angles"), T-Ray ("No Retreat") and of course longtime affiliate and its main beat supplier The Alchemist, the album aims to create an LA sound that doesn't adhere to the '90s templates of gangsta funk and art-house hip-hop. But moreso than the beats it is Iriscience and Evidence who turn this into a highly serious affair. It's almost a little bit intimidating to hear Ev declare, "I go to any extreme for you to hear it." In the long run, the overriding sentiment of earnesty, the strong desire to be taken seriously, had the potential to turn into an Achilles' heel for the group, but for the time being it didn't stifle the creativity of the wordplay-inclined duo. True to its title, "The Platform" offers just that to Ev and Rak (regrettably to a lesser degree to Babu), who saw themselves as "the derivative of what the late '80s and early '90s had to give." One album does not make a Golden Age, but just like this Platform was, as they put it, "built on strong foundation," it would in turn constitute a sound footing for an extended career. (7.5/10)

Cool Songs: No Retreat, Service, Ear Drums Pop, The Last Line of Defense, Work the Angles

"Expansion Team" (2001)
Dilated announced their return with the widely noticed single "Worst Comes to Worst," to this day a trademark song of the group and just maybe even an underground rap classic. The "I Forgot to Be Your Lover" sample had been used before, but The Alchemist and DP created the perfect setting for the emotive loop, the song's theme best summed up by the Havoc quote-turned-hook, "When worst comes to worst, my peoples come first." The album that followed, ambitiously titled "Expansion Team," while indeed extending the crew's reach, has to be considered a sophomore slump from an artistic standpoint. You feel the rappers' desire to be more specific and relevant, but they are unable to breathe life into their topics on songs such as "Self Defense," "Proper Propaganda" and "Panic." "We got tension and suspense, theme and variation," Ev boasted on the DJ Premier-produced "Clockwork," but safe for "Trade Money," replete with mature musings on the almighty dollar, and "Live on Stage," their key statement about bringing it to the people, they remain vague and unfocused. And even as Rakaa emerges as the lyrical backbone, for some reason he doesn't find enough time to shine, the thought-provoking "War" limited to a short one-verse track. Compared to the debut, the determination didn't ring as loudly and the music had fewer highlights. Ev also had the following bit of braggadocio to offer: "Only time we been wrong is when we thought we were wrong." They weren't wrong with "Expansion Team," it just wasn't the necessary step to the next level. (6.5/10)

Cool Songs: Live on Stage, Worst Comes to Worst, Trade Money, Heavy Rotation, War

"Neighborhood Watch" (2004)
He wasn't yet the fame monster he is today, but when Kanye West produced and rapped on the single "This Way," plus brought a John Legend-led choir along at a time when "Jesus Walks" still echoed on the airwaves, it was clear that the crew, the label, or both, were ready to rid Dilated Peoples of a potentially hindering underground aroma. First single and album opener "Marathon" suggested they were in it for the long run that "separates the weak and strong one." The better grip on song writing was immediately apparent, particularly on the title track, which featured quite a different bird's-eye view on the oft-cited streets than the vulture's point of view of your common hustler. "Neighborhood Watch" is not only the album that introduced funk to the DP universe, it also saw Rakaa and Evidence finally allow their personal life into their lyrics, even though they kept their typical cool: "Born in LA it's hard to get star-struck / Born in LA, so I always keep my guard up" (Evidence). Rakaa imagines himself as a "rap Michael Moore" on "Big Business," where he once again rallies against war, memorably opening with, "I pledge resistance to the grass that hides the snakes of America..." They don't exactly pour their souls out, but "Tryin' to Breathe," "Reach Us" and "This Way" bring them closer to the listener, even as the latter together with the throwback club track "Who's Who" and the Devin the Dude-starring femme fatale tale "Poisonous" might have alienated some hardcore followers. Meanwhile Babu as usual spoke with his hands, closing the album with the Premier tribute "DJ Babu in Deep Concentration." In term of completeness, "Neighborhood Watch" takes a much needed clue from classic LA albums by Ice Cube and Ice-T. (8/10)

Cool Songs: Marathon, Neighborhood Watch, Reach Us, This Way, DJ Babu in Deep Concentration

"20/20" (2006)
For album number four Dilated Peoples stuck to their guns, whether it came to the producers (Ev, ALC, Babu, Joey Chavez), the DJ spot ("The One and Only"), or their predilection for part abstract/part actual imagery (optics and weather being their favorite frames of reference). Lyrically, Evidence insisted on their impending success, while Rakaa solidified his status as one of LA's most talented wordsmiths. Ev relied on witty one-liners, most memorably "Don't worry if I write checks, I write rhymes" and "I master rap music every day like Tom Coyne." (Let's also hear it for "When you rhyme all you do is add rock to the block / when I rhyme I shine like Adrock when it (Mmmmhhh... Drrrooppp!)") Iriscience meanwhile shone on the Capleton-assisted "Firepower" and "The Eyes Have It" with veracious, focused lyricism:

"I been a security guard at Guitar Center
a food service worker and a telemarketer
Dreamin' 'bout goin' to Otis-Parsons or
maybe CalArts or even the Arts Center
But music was my passion, part of my callin' to
hustle year 'round, spring, summer, fall, winter
Will stop for nothin', you shouldn't start with us
For the people, by the Dilated Peoples, hard hitters"

As their career progressed, one of the most astounding facts about the duo of Rak and Ev was how similar they managed to sound. This streamlining may have come at the expense of developing stronger individual characteristics, at the same time it put them both on the same page, similar to the classic rap duos of old. "20/20" upheld that status to the point where it became routine. Neither did the beats mark any significant departure from their tried-and-true formula, but musically they tightened things further up, preparing themselves for the years to come. (7.5/10)

Cool Songs: Back Again, Olde English, Kindness for Weakness, Firepower (The Tables Have to Turn), 20/20

Two thirds of Dilated found the time to pursue their solo interests extensively in the '00s. Beat Junkies member DJ Babu put together three volumes of his acclaimed "Duck Season" series, chilled out with Defari as The Likwit Junkies, plus began a production showcase with "The Beat Tape Vol. 1." His partner Evidence has been able to continuously raise his profile as a producer since the late '90s, working with almost everybody in Left Coast hip-hop and contributing substantially to albums by Planet Asia, Defari, Aceyalone and Swollen Members, exposing his naked beats on the "Yellow Tape," "Red Tape," and "Purple Tape Instrumentals." He has also established himself as a solo rapper, which seems wrong mainly because Rakaa failed to do the same, but Ev by himself also lacks that delicate Dilated balance. His solo rap releases "The Weatherman" and "The Layover EP" made the man behind the music emerge, whereas Ev the MC made little progress, unable to escape the label of a rapper who has to try too hard to make an impression. Nonetheless, collectively DP have earned the consideration as Artist of the Decade with plenty of quality contributions to 2K hip-hop. (7/10)

Hip-Hop Shop #65 w/ Ric Atari

Our returning guest this week on Hip-Hop Shop is Ric Atari a/k/a The Cancer from K4D to catch up on pro wrestling, talk about being a new dad and discuss a little bit of hip-hop! If you like what you hear be sure to e-mail with feedback or to get more information about sponsoring the show. Hip-Hop Shop features podsafe music, so give a copy to your friends and tell them to check us out every week at! PS: Be sure to follow Ric on Twitter too.

Download Here (right click to save)

Tracks featured this week:

* The Cancer a/k/a Ric Atari: Better Alone
* The Cancer a/k/a Ric Atari: I Must Be Special

Yo! PR Releases Statement About Guru's Condition - UPDATED

Our original story from Sunday night about his heart attack and coma is HERE.

From Yo! PR:

Yo! Promotions officially confirms the rumors that our client and friend Guru, legendary MC and founder of the world famous Hip-Hop group GangStarr, has suffered a heart attack over the weekend in New York City.

Hit producer and Guru's longtime partner Solar released a statement that reads, "Guru is struggling with a serious health issue. We, the whole 7 Grand Records family, appreciate all your love and well wishes. We continue to hold out hope that Guru will make a full recovery from this. We ask that his privacy on this matter will be respected. Again, thank you for all your support through this trying time."

During what must be an incredibly hard and stressful time, Yo! Promotions send prayers, thoughts, and wishes to the Elam family, frequent collaborators and producer Solar as well as fans.

Guru, whose real name is Keith Elam, rose to fame in the 80's as one of the founders of the legendary rap group GangStarr. Together with DJ Premier they released the classic single "Words I Manifest" followed by their critically acclaimed debut album "No More Mr. Nice Guy" (1989) and the classic album "Step In The Arena" (1991). Guru was the first artist to truly blend Hip-Hop with Live Jazz beginning in 1993, and seeing the vast influences his "Jazzmatazz" concept has had on the industry, it is clear that Guru's musical contributions have been way ahead of their time. Despite the fact that Guru isn't hailing from New York, he is noted as a pioneer of the New York sound and true lyrical Hip-Hop. Guru later on joined forces with hit producer Solar and formed his label 7 Grand Records with the goal to keep "real" Hip-Hop alive.

As one of the best kept secrets in Hip-Hop and music history, as an innovator and royal luminary of Hip-Hop and Hip-Hop/Jazz, Guru aka "Gifted Unlimited Rhymes Universal" worked with such great artists as Herbie Hancock, Isaac Hayes, Donald Byrd, Ramsey Lewis, Roy Ayers, Chaka Kahn, Branford Marsalis, David Sanborn, Bob James, Erykah Badu, The Roots, Common, Angie Stone, Jamiroquai, Macy Gray and Damien Marley, to name a few.

Most recently, Guru released his latest solo album titled "Lost And Found" in May 2009 featuring the singles "Divine Rule", "Fast Lane", and "Best Of My Years". Last week, the legendary MC offered his first solo Hip-Hop album "Version 7.0: The Street Scriptures" (2005) for free download to the masses which shows how he appreciates his worldwide fans.

Dan-e-o's "Last Minute" Short Film Trailer #2

From Dan-e-o:

"Last Minute" Short Film Trailer #2

"Last Minute" is the new short film in HD from Dan-e-o's "Dilla Pickles"
album/mixtape. Set for release March 3, 2010, "Last Minute" is directed by
Kev Major and edited by XCON of Late Night Shooters.

The film stars Dan-e-o, Conwell, Melanie Leduc, Stacey Armstrong and the
beautiful Jas Seron in a gripping story about love, lust, betrayal and

This is the second official trailer for the "Last Minute" short film:

Here is the first official "Last Minute" trailer in HD:

Voiceover for both trailers by Andrew Kishino.

"Dilla Pickles" - the official 2 in 1 album/mixtape in tribute to
legendary producer/rapper J Dilla - Dan-e-o's first-ever completely FREE
digital download project is out now!

Download "Dilla Pickles" FREE right HERE:

Also out now..."Break It Down":

Late Night Shooters Website:
Dan-e-o Website:
Dan-e-o MySpace:
Dan-e-o Facebook:
Dan-e-o Twitter:
Dan-e-o Online Store:
Tha O Show:

Oddy Gato - Because Normal is Boring

Most emcees like to brag, but not Albany’s Oddy Gato. “Hip-hop is not just a guy grabbing a mic and saying I'm the best, I’m the best,” he explains, “it’s about other people saying ‘this motherfucker is really good.’” Over the years quite a few people have been saying Oddy Gato is really good. His goal, which he says should be the goal of every artist, is to make listeners question what is going on. “A real artist’s job is to step outside the norms of society, of the dominant culture, to challenge everything, and to challenge people to see things in a different light.” Living by that ideology it should come as no surprise that Oddy Gato once performed with Immortal Technique at a Free Mumia concert in Philadelphia. He also recorded in J-Live’s home studio with both J-Live and Rashawn Ross, a trumpeter and arranger who tours with Dave Matthews Band.

Backed by producer Lo-Fi LOBO and DJ TRUMASTR, Oddy Gato is extremely pleased with the work he and his team are creating, even going as far as saying “if anybody has a problem with the music that we’re making, not only am I nice with the microphone, I have the hand sills of a vicious puma.” This week I risked the possibility of incurring the wrath of Oddy Gato when I caught up with him to ask him about his music, why he feels it’s better to be odd, and the reasons why he loves calling Albany home.

Read the full interview at:

Guru From GangStarr in a Coma - UPDATED

8:45 PM CST. Details are sketchy at present but we'll give you all that we know. The Philaflava blog was the first to break this news: "If anyone has info about this please let us know. We’re told his sister Tricia said he is currently in a coma after suffering from cardiac arrest. Our prayers go out to Keith Elam and his family." After that ?uestlove from The Roots put it on blast on Twitter, though from his reaction one would think he's hoping it's not true. The HipHopWired website put it up as well, but they're unable to confirm it: "According to many different sources, Hip-Hop Wired has acquired information that rapper Guru has fallen into a coma after suffering cardiac arrrest. Details right now remain very slim, but sources have stated that the news was broken by Guru’s sister." Our thoughts and prayers are with Keith Elam and his family. Stay tuned to RR for further updates.

UPDATE at 10:20 PM CST from ?uestlove on Twitter: "Primo confirmed on Sirius Radio that Guru had heart attack & is in a coma and will undergo surgery tomorrow."

Audio: CityBoy x DJ Khaled x DJ Nasty x Drake "I'm About Business"

From Jessie Maguire:

CityBoy has stepped out of the shadows of Chicago’s thriving music scene and all too dangerous streets to establish him self as a international artist and entrepreneur while staying true to the streets that raised him.

Born and raised in and around the trap houses of Chicago’s infamous Humbolt Park/Logan Square CityBoy’s was exposed to the business of selling drugs from birth. Both of his parents were well known dealers and CityBoy spent most of his early life surrounded by drug dealings, murders, and guns, which led to him living a life that most people could only begin to imagine. Although he was surrounded by the drama of the streets CityBoy found an outlet for his frustrations in music, which he developed a passion for while hustling in the streets. A born businessman it was only right that CityBoy would enter into the business side of music before becoming an artist forming his own record label C.O.R. Records or Crack Or Rap Records. When asked why he named his record label this, CityBoy simply replied, “that’s the choice I have to make, either I’m going to succeed at creating this music or its back to hustling crack.” CityBoy took inspiration for from artists like Tupac, NWA, Eazy, E, Baby of Cash Money, and T.i. all of which he claims turned the nothing they were given into something and found a way to turn their hustles into legitimate money.. Just look and see for yourself what CityBoy is all about,"BUSINESS"!!!

Download City Boy featuring Drake "I'm About Business" Dirty Version by clicking here
Download City Boy featuring Drake "I'm About Business" Clean Version by clicking here
Behind the Scenes of Stat Quo's "Success (Back to U)" video

From Greg at Big Hassle:

Check out behind the scenes footage from Stat Quo's upcoming music video 'Success (Back to U)', the first single off his Statlanta album, releasing May 4th on Big Dream Ventures. The album is executive produced by Sha Money XL.  The music video was shot in Atlanta last month and will debut next week.  In the meantime, please check out this behind the scenes footage.


A behind the scenes look at Stat Quo's video for "Success" from Stat Quo on Vimeo.

Audio: Neak - "Film School"

From Mulatto Patriot Productions:

What up my peoples. Thanks to all those who showed love to "Make it". The Next Blast for  Neak's "84 Vol. 2 (The Silent Fiasco)" coming out March 2nd presented by  - is "Film School" Produced by Mulatto Patriot. "Film School" is a smooth chill joint where Neak lyrically describes his life in the eye of the camera. 

Download Neak "Film School" Prod Mulatto Patriot (Clean/320) 

DJ Rob A - When They Reminisce Interview

From DJ Rob A:

DJ Rob A - When They Reminisce Interview

Sending this one out to a few of you that might want to read it. Hope you enjoy and pass it on.

Rob A


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Welcome to for the week of December 16th, 2014!! Please like us on Facebook and shop Amazon through RapReviews so we can bring you new material every week. This week we have SIXTEEN new items for you for WOMEN's WEEK! Check out Jhene Aiko's "Sail Out EP," Azealia Banks' "Broke With Expensive Taste," two editorials on The Top 20 Female Rap Artist Videos from part one to part two, the "Fly Girls! B-Boys Beware!" compilation, Ghostface Killah's "36 Seasons," Iggy Azalea's "Reclassified," Steve 'Flash' Juon's The Hip-Hop Shop #304, Steve 'Flash' Juon's Welcome to Women's Week on RapReviews, Nefertiti's "L.I.F.E. (Living In Fear of Extinction)," Nicki Minaj's "The Pinkprint" (our featured review), Nitty Scott, MC's "Boombox Diaries Vol. 1," PRhyme's "PRhyme," Queen Pen's "My Melody," Emanuel Wallace's The (W)rap Up for December 9, 2014 and Clara Wang's "Verses and a Beat" editorial!

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