Dilated Peoples

Directors of Photography

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Returning to the game after an eight-year hiatus, one would expect the ground to quake as Dilated Peoples stake their claim in the land of underground hip-hop, but Directors of Photography is a wonderfully loose and casual effort rather than the expected epic album. This comes partly from the glad-to-see-again chemistry that members Evidence, Rakaa, and DJ Babu display during this hang-out session on wax, all of them coming off successful solo careers. Guest star Aloe Blacc may have just walked off his R&B superstar appearance on the Today Show, but his feature cut, "Show Me the Way," features a busy and beautiful Jake One production with no radio-aimed fluff. "Gone for Good" is satisfied-sounding mixtape rough and street track tough with the back and forth between Evidence and Rakaa (finishing each other's lines, offering contrasts, and cutting jokes) sounding debut-album fresh. It's believable when "LA River Drive" spits "When I rise, I wake the morning up" since the Alchemist beat is pure uplift, then there's the slept-on Sick Jacken as guest, a wise and unexpected choice that is equaled when Gangrene graces "Opinions May Vary." The interludes, the album's title, and the instant photos packed into the album's physical release all point to a photography concept that doesn't stick to the bones, but it's the only time this effort trips on its own ambition, and it's just a slight stumble. Otherwise, this is the satisfying return album fans have waited for, no more, and certainly no less.

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