A mostly successful refinement of their debut, Expansion Team finds Dilated Peoples attempting to broaden their lyrical outlook somewhat, while taking advantage of a bigger budget to experiment with a varied cast of producers. Thanks to the latter, Expansion Team is arguably an even better-sounding album than its accomplished predecessor, boasting endless subtleties and imaginative touches in its backing tracks. And if the record is still heavy on the battle rhymes, Evidence and Iriscience are turning their attention elsewhere, particularly to the perils of fame and success (or of being just on the verge of both). "Trade Money" and "Proper Propaganda" take on money and the media, respectively, and there's also a brewing social consciousness on the brief "War," which is set to a rattling snare-drum march beat. Plus, there are plenty of lyrical assurances that Dilated will stay true to its underground, purist approach; the group even takes pride in the fact that that's what's gotten them where they are now. There's a turntablist showcase for members of the Beat Junkies on "Dilated Junkies," and guest spots from Tha Liks and the Roots' Black Thought; meanwhile, the array of production talent includes DJ Premier, Da Beatminerz, the Roots' ?uestlove, and DJ Babu himself. The Alchemist, however, shines just as brightly as on the debut, helming the excellent lead single "Worst Comes to Worst." Dilated Peoples still don't sound as transcendent as some would have -- they're never quite as unstudied or breezy as Jurassic 5 -- but Expansion Team indicates that they're continuing to grow, which means the fundamentals of hip-hop are in good hands.
AllMusic Review by Steve Huey
feat: Tha Alkaholiks