It’s the year 2010. I stopped by the local watering hole to sip on a glass of Chevis Regal after an unusually long day at work. I met my age-old comrade at the bar and as we began to chat, I noticed a familiar song seeping from the speakers some four feet away. I couldn’t believe my ears, and as I turned to my pal we hooted in unison, Rakim. “Can you believe that this guy is still kicking rhymes?” I commented to Jon. We began to chat about the great MCs of the twentieth century but our conversation quickly changed to greatest hip-hop albums of all time. After a list that included 3 feet High and Rising, Great Adventures of Slick Rick and It Takes a Nation of Millions, Jon drew my attention to an album that dropped May 23, 2000. Dilated Peoples, The Platform. “Man, that was a great album” I shrieked “How could I forget that album, Dilated changed the face of hip-hop forever.”
So what makes a hip-hop album a classic, you’re wondering? A classic is that album that comes along once so often that forces hip-hop to gaze long and hard in the mirror and ask: “What new direction can we possible take this music?” Dilated Peoples debut album The Platform does exactly this. Two MCs and a DJ manage to take this art form to new heights by creating a hybrid sound of old school zeal and next generation hip-hop. For those of you who are sleeping on Dilated, it’s time that you wake up. Whether it’s the thunderous cuts of the DJ or the on time battle hymns that each MC takes turns ferociously spiting with reckless abandon, it’s clear that these three cats reek pure hip-hop. Reigning from the California Underground, they join the likes of Ugly Duckling and Jurassic 5 as the soldiers who want to not only take hip-hop over but also convert it back to the battle in the park days of old.
The group composition of MCs Evidence, Iriscience (pronounced Eye-ra-science) and DJ Babu are reminiscent of early EPMD, but where they show brilliance is their belief that the DJ is the cornerstone of hip-hop. Instead of Babu (Babs) serving as a backdrop for the two MCs he can be found severing records and samples for fifteen to thirty seconds of nearly every song and at times outshines his companions. On tracks like “The Platform, Service and Expanding Man,” the listener is dizzied by his performance, raising the question: has DJ Premier finally met his match?
MC’s Iriscience (Rakaa) and Evidence have distinctly different rhyme styles. Evidence approaches each verse with a gruff, laid back demeanor as if he doesn’t have a care in the world while Iriscience’s flow is upbeat, rhyming with a sense of urgency in his voice. Each MC gives the other space yet feeds off the energy that is created. They match each other’s ferocity and flow when coupled together but there are a few tracks where only one of the two spits. This approach is refreshing as it adds longevity to the group by not boring the listener with the same old- You rhyme-Then I’ll rhyme quagmire that many groups face.
The album is born with Babu introducing the world to Dilated Peoples with an adroit mix of crisp scratches and smooth as silk samples about the group, setting the tone for a mesmerizing collection of tracks that lay waste to competition and leave jaws gaping. The group has a deadpan devotion to the culture called “hip-hop”. Evidence and Iriscience spent their early years immersed in graffiti art, and Babu is most famous for his involvement with the World Famous Beat Junkies. This passion is crystallized into rhyme form throughout the album but most noticeably on cuts such as “Last Line of Defense” where Evidence proclaims he is the “derivative of what the late eighties and early nineties had to give” and “The Shape of Things to Come” where Rakaa vehemently states “I’m back to beat-box, battle raps at lunch time.” The listener is even schooled on how the group came together. “Years In The Making” paints a marvelous picture of the struggles endured by the group with their album resulting in a “fully executed blue print plan.”
Impressively, Dilated does not depend on guest artists to help carry the album. Guests such as Planet Asia, The Alkaholics, Defari, Aceyalone, Everlast and DJs Revolution and The Alchemist serve only to expose the world to quality artists known chiefly to the Underground fan.
In the year 2010, it quite possibly could be you discussing the classic albums of hip-hop and The Platform may work it’s way into your convo, but of course only time will tell.
// Notes from the Road
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