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Artist: Dilated Peoples
Album: The Platform
Label: Capitol Records
Production: Evidence, The Alchemist, T-Ray, E-Swift, DJ Babu, Joey Chavez, Kut Masta Kurt
Guests: B Real, Tha Alkaholiks, Aceyalone, Planet Asia, Defari, White E Ford, Phil Tha Agony
Stats: 2000, 16 Tracks at 64mins29secs
Reviewed by: Eitan Prince

If you don't know LA-based trio Dilated Peoples yet, that will soon change after this promising debut. MCs Evidence, Rakaa Iriscience and DJ Babu (also of the Beat Junkies) present 16 thick cuts that they offer as 'The Platform' - supposedly a foundation or basis upon which Hip Hop, in its purest sense, is founded. This is no doubt a noble undertaking - so let's see how they go about it.

Beats that are hard, beats that are funky
An important pillar of this album is the strength of its production, provided in places by Evidence (also the lead MC), Babu and E-Swift (of Tha 'Liks). But most conspicuous are the arrangements by The Alchemist, who adds his own weight to the album's sound in a manner that almost gives the impression that he's a fourth member of the crew - so good is the chemistry between his grooves and Ev and Rakaa's rhymes.

The trio's signature sound is also pleasantly versatile, oscillating between the extremes of Old School simplicity (see 'Service' - DP's ode to the DJ) and New School orchestration (head-bangers 'Ear Drums Pop' and the classic single 'Work the Angles'), without sounding geographically specific (West or East coast) or stale.

Too many MCs not enough mics
But "The Platform" is not merely a compilation of beats, and both Evidence and Iriscience prove they're technically equipped to rip the mic. Freaking primarily simple flows, they litter their 15 vocal tracks with punchlines and puns, e.g.: "Some think I'm clever/Others think I'm the one who makes too many references to weather.../Or not/I'm feelin' this beyond words explained/While you set up a battle outdoors and pray for rain". Sadly the clever wordplay only holds one's interest momentarily, wearing thin after the third or fourth listen. So while the beats are the album's pillar of strength, the lyrical content proves a mini-pitfall. Evidence in particular suffers from being too overly obsessed with his underground authenticity while, collectively, Dilated seem to be trapped within their anti-commercial speak, offering little, if any, lyrical variety.

The result is that the album just doesn't hit as hard as it could in the MC'ing department. Instead you have 16 individual tracks rather than a collection of songs that are intricately woven into a single concept. At their worst, one could arbitrarily swap the lyrics from separate tracks and still not detect the differences.

However, this is still a solid package with its top-class beats and catchy verses, but generally it doesn't inspire innovation. And while all three members display a combined hunger, the right attitude and have clearly paid their dues (as they so eloquently narrate on 'Years in the Making'), they just lack the edge that makes the difference between being heard and being listened to.

Exceptional tracks: Work The Angles, Guaranteed, Ear Drums Pop, The Platform. [7/10]

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