In the last few years, the L.A. underground hip-hop scenehas been bustling. With acts like Xzibit & The Liks and Jurassic 5 making itbig, more attention has been paid to this music than ever before. Point in case:Dilated Peoples. After their minor success with their first studio release,”The Platform,” they inked a deal with Capitol Records, leaving theunderground and heading out to the streets. Their second release, “ExpansionTeam,” picks up where “The Platform” left off, but this timeEvidence, Rakaa, and DJ Babu get a little help from their friends, under- andabove-ground alike.
On “Expansion Team” there are many hits,with a few misses, too. Some of the stand-out tracks are “DefariInterlude,” “Live on Stage,” “Proper Propaganda,””War” and “Worst Comes to Worst.” On “DefariInterlude,” an underground friend of the Peoples, rapper Defari, lends hisvocals, while guest DJ Revolution provides the cuts. Revolution scratches so fastand precisely, he must create smoke.
It’s one of those songs that makes thelistener wonder, Is it humanly possible to do that?
On “War,”Ahmir “?uestlove” Thompson, drummer for the Grammy-award winning groupThe Roots, provides a militaristic drum pattern while Rakaa gives his very timelyviews on the concept of war. The only bad thing about “War” is that itdoesn’t fit in with the rest of the album. ?uestlove is known for his fresh andfunky drumming, but on an underground hip-hop album filled with sampled andrepetitive beats, his talent sticks out like a sore thumb.
Overall, for asophomore release, “Expansion Team” does the job of introducing DilatedPeoples to the masses and is an enjoyable album. Because each track is producedby someone different, however, the album as a whole does not flow well andlisteners may find themselves listening to individual songs instead of the wholealbum.
But, watch out for Dilated Peoples and all their friends from L.A.as they start to make names for themselves, and a name for the L.A. underground hip-hop scene.
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