Published Jan 01, 2006"All over the world I feel things are starting to sprout," says Rakaa (aka Iriscience) from one of the crown jewels of the West Coast hip-hop explosion, Dilated Peoples. "In London, you gotta hear about Roots Manuva, Mark B & Blade, the Herbaliser or Vadim. Wherever you are in the world you're gonna hear about some cats getting down and making things happen, and that's something that's really positive to me. And the West Coast is no different." With their anticipated follow-up to The Platform the trio of Rakaa, along with Evidence and Babu, have definitely tipped the scale in favour of California's sunny shores.
Expansion Team is a continuation of the Dilated sound, complete with sharp-tongued lyrical assaults and Babu's mind-boggling cuts, but have raised the bar by strengthening their skills to an even greater degree. It's sensational gems like this that are turning all eyes to the West right now. "I think it's a situation out here where there's a lot of people out here that have always been doing it," Rakaa explains while battling the Los Angeles freeway. "And because the resource wasn't tapped, and a lot of other rap resources were, what we do was sort of left alone. So it gave us a chance to develop our own network and it gave us a chance to link up with each other as businessmen. It let us really develop ourselves without any corporate or mainstream media watching us. And so when they really focused on what we were doing out here, on this level of things, it caught a lot of people by surprise."
This circuitry that the finest MCs, DJs, and producers have created for themselves all over California is generating some of the most intelligent and truest hip-hop today. Something that Rakaa boils down to as just staying true to the formula that Run DMC and EPMD brought to the table: beats, rhymes and cuts with two MCs and one DJ. "We just do what we do. We never put a label or a package around ourselves. We've never said anything other than we're cutting-edge traditionalists. When I was 12 years old I just wanted to be out there and bust. I'm not concerned with being the cutest dude or the most fashionable dude. I just want to get out there and rock mics, rock stages and bust. And when I finally had the chance to get on? I'm just living out my childhood dreams." So just as EPMD left an impression on Dilated to build from, soon there will be a time where Dilated Peoples and the rest of the world, not just the West Coast, will leave something for hopefuls to expand on. "I guess our role is just to leave the door open a little bit, know what I mean? Leave it cracked so people can break in the back door like we broke in the back door. Nobody's inviting us in really, we have to find our way to sneak in and do whatever else we have to do to get in here."