Dilated Peoples

The Platform

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Dilated Peoples' debut album was hugely anticipated in the hip-hop underground, thanks to a handful of excellent singles and guest appearances that began several years prior. When it was finally released in 2000, The Platform thrilled some and mildly disappointed others. Dilated is very much a part of the back-to-basics, old-school-worshipping wing of the underground, most often compared to fellow southern Californians Jurassic 5. They've got DJ Babu of the Beat Junkies working turntables, adding an extra dimension of authenticity to Iriscience and Evidence's well-honed microphone technique. Therein lies the rub: the trio's skills are all beyond question, but sometimes the album can feel like a formalist exercise. That's largely due to the lack of variety in lyrical content, which generally consists of one purist-friendly battle rhyme after another. It's all well-executed, but considering how far hip-hop has come, it's hard not to want a more personal statement, or a few topics other than wack MCs and keeping the culture real. But other than that, The Platform is an excellent debut. The production (chiefly by the Alchemist) is lean and inventive throughout, supporting the two MCs' abstract poetics with a subtle flair. Plus, their single-minded love of hip-hop brings a tremendous enthusiasm to the best tracks. The title track, "Triple Optics," and the underground classic "Work the Angles" are particular highlights, and guests B Real, Tha Alkaholiks, Planet Asia, and Aceyalone all put in memorable appearances (especially Tha Alkaholiks, on "Right On"). If it's occasionally uneven, The Platform is still better than the vast majority of its competition, and whether or not they ultimately prove to be the saviors of hip-hop (as some would have it), their promise is undeniable.

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