Dilated Peoples 20/20

Dilated Peoples 20/20
We can see clearly now folks. That’s the message behind 20/20. It’s a corrective album, made necessary after efforts to engineer increased record sales — by leeching off Kanye West’s success on the Dilated Peoples/Kanye collaboration "This Way” — collided with criticism. Expect the new sound to regress and call it progress. Evidence’s verses still limp from his lips: "Back again for the very fourth time/Don’t worry if I write cheques, I write rhymes” ("Back Again”). Iriscience keeps it crisp, unleashing the bulk of the best lyrics. Babu fixes his talent on the tables, turning out the West coast underground sound to a tee. But it’s the in-house produced beats — the schoolyard playfulness and cavernous bass echoing throughout "Kindness for Weakness” featuring Talib Kweli or the way "Satellite Radio” hops about on hydraulics, as if Dr. Dre himself produced it — that drag you back to DP’s dope. It isn’t as pungent as The Platform, or as free-spirited as Expansion Team; it’s a group you love getting refocused… after a little laser eye surgery.

What was happening with the group on the last album? Babu: There was a lot of stuff going on with us internally, with the record label, and it was a trying time for our group. Historically, we’re an independent group who got picked up by a major label. So we’ve been constantly at battle, trying to balance art and commerce. The last album was a tough point for us. A lot of good things happened out of the last campaign. Our problem with it was that there were 12 other songs that didn’t get any light versus "This Way.” The whole campaign just wasn’t a good representation of where our heads were at or what the album was about.

How does this album pick up where the last one left off? We’re back to making filthy hip-hop and satisfying no one other than Rakaa, Evidence and Babu — first and foremost — and our core audience who’ve been following us since we released independent twelve-inches. [We’re here to] straighten up the legacy and let our real fans know that we’re still doing what we do. On a personal level, all of us are clicking like we haven’t in a long time. At the end of the day, if this album goes double platinum or double wood, it doesn’t really matter; everyone is really happy with the work and we are really eager for people to hear it. (Capitol)