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Dilated Peoples: Neighborhood Watch

Dilated Peoples: Neighborhood Watch

Release Date:2004


By Craig Smith | Posted 5/5/2004

Dilated Peoples prefer to dwell in their palm tree-lined hip-hop 'hood. The trio of rap purists appropriately tags their third album Neighborhood Watch because their traditionalist thump rarely ventures out of conservative surroundings.

Since MC/producer Evidence and rhyme partner/beat poet Rakaa (aka Iriscience) aren't chorus crooners, they enlist trendy hit-maker Kanye West for "This Way" and its addictive Up With People-ish hook, the record's standout cut (which can also be heard in ads hawking Volvos). Its catchy piano twinkling and looped flute should snag some new Dilated enthusiasts, but much of this darkly tinged release won't, with enough downers to require smelling salts.

The Alchemist-produced, bass-heavy "Marathon" takes its time in alluding to Dilated's career longevity with a low-BPM count: "I don't train for sprints/ I train for marathons," Evidence raps. Unfortunately, hip-hoppers often prefer quick power bursts to drawn-out tracks. With dreary horn stabs, the title track also moves along like Biz Markie in a 10K.

Among livelier fare is "Who's Who," where a rolling electric-guitar lick finds the MCs riffing on the kinetic scene at a Dilated gig over DJ Babu's signature scratch rhythms. Earnest-rapping Texan Devin the Dude cameos on "Poisonous" for a highly enjoyable yarn on floozy avoidance. Longtime Dilated pal and oft-overlooked Cali knob twister Joey Chavez concocts a wonderful vibe-filled psychedelic haze for "Reach for Us," where Rakaa reflects on sticky green and deep thought. "I still roll up my trees," he admits. "But moderate. I meditate and roll up my sleeves." Unfortunately, there's a shortage of tunes like these in Dilated's Neighborhood, a locale in need of more excitement.

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