Published Jul 20, 2010With his California hip-hop collective Dilated People's last full-length, 20/20, four years in their rear-view, MC Rakaa Iriscience brings his long-awaited solo record, Crown of Thorns, to the table, with banging results. The solid solo efforts of Rakaa's Dilated team-mates Evidence (The Layover) and DJ Babu (the Duck Season series) has inspired Rakaa to keep up with the quality coming out of the camp, as this album delivers. With guests ranging from Ev, Babu, Alchemist and EL-P to the original "hip-hop preacher," KRS-One, Crown of Thorns acts as a blueprint for progressive, underground rap music with a cool Cali flavour. From the mellow, head-nodding bliss of Evidence-produced lead single "Delilah" to the environmentally-conscious subject matter served up by Rakaa ("Real power we can give to our sons and daughters/is the knowledge of the power of the wind, sun and water") and KRS over Exile's mesmerizing flute loop on "Human Nature (Now Breathe)," this release definitely breaks out of the box, standing tall as a truly original and refreshing rap record. Rakaa deserves a crown for his work on this disc, however it shouldn't be one with thorns in it.
It's been a minute since the last Dilated album came out and Crown of Thorns has been in the works for a while. How does it feel to finally have the project drop?
It feels great, man. The feeling of that accomplishment is there, the relief of having that weight off of my shoulders. Also, I'm excited; I'm excited for the people to hear it.
Tell me a bit about that dope album cover. I understand that it's by an artist named Doze Green?
Doze Green is like my mentor, like one of the O.G.s in the game, like classic Rocksteady. One of the pioneer graffiti artists, one of the pioneer b-boys. It's a painting called "Lord Inlil." I saw it and I knew it would be perfect for the record, so I called him and he let me use it for the album.
On "Human Nature (Now Breathe)," featuring KRS, there are a lot of references to nature and the environment. Are you big on environmental issues? What are your thoughts on the BP oil spill?
I mean, of course the BP oil spill is disgusting ― big business at its finest. It costs billions to clean up and we're sending them bills for millions. Am I an environmentalist? I mean, I live in the environment. Every day I take a deep breath of the same air my neighbours breathe. I would think anyone that is aware on some level would be an environmentalist.
What's up next for you? When can new fans expect the new Dilated album to drop?
Crown of Thorns is about to drop, Evidence is trying to finish Cats and Dogs and Babu stays busy between his Duck Season series. Right now, we're just focusing on the solo records and once Ev is finished with Cats and Dogs we'll get back into Dilated mode. (Decon)