As hip-hop culture (DJing, MCing, b-boying, graffiti art and beatboxing) evolved in the late 1970s and early 1980s, two things were hallmarks of the movement: DJing and lyrical excellence. In the last several years, no rap group has done more to champion those elements than Dilated Peoples. The Los Angeles based trio of Rakaa, Evidence and DJ Babu inject their music with humor, insight and social commentary, and DJ Babu's cuts add an additional layer of excitement and complexity to the group's material.
The trio's first three albums of 2000's "The Platform", 2001's "Expansion Team" and 2004's "Neighborhood Watch", which produced the hit "This Way" with Kanye West, are all hailed as exemplary examples of quality hip-hop. Dilated Peoples is very much a part of the back-to-basics approach to hip-hop and are seen as torchbearers for old school hip-hop diehards with Jurassic 5.
Indeed, Capitol Records signed Dilated Peoples in part because of their live show, which is among the best in hip-hop. After the success of the 1997 single "Third Degree" b/w "Confidence" and "Global Dynamics" and the addition of DJ Babu to the fold a year later, Dilated Peoples became a fixture on the tour circuit. Their shows, typified by brilliant tag-team rhyming between Rakaa and Evidence and turntable supremacy from DJ Babu, demonstrated that hip-hop shows can be entertaining and prominently feature a DJ.
"We're one of the groups responsible for helping correct one of the most serious rap wrongs, which is the DJ being regulated to a stage prop," Rakaa says. "We make sure that Babu is up there with us and gets the equal shine because the DJ is the backbone of the culture and he's the backbone of our group, too."
Cognizant that their music should stand the test of time as individual songs as well as when put together for an album, Dilated Peoples energized the rap underground by releasing classic hip-hop albums.