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Dilated Peoples wax political

'Expansion Team' pays homage to hip-hop's roots

The Dilated Peoples, consisting of two MCs and one DJ, take hip-hop to a new level on their latest album Expansion Team. With group members Evidence, Rakaa Iriscience and DJ Babu working together, the product is a seamless album full of rock-hard beats with witty lyrics.

Tha Liks, J-Rocc, Rhettmatic, Melo-D and Black Thought also add fuel to the fire that the Dilated Peoples have already let get out of control. Released in 2001, Expansion Team is an experience with some of the best MCs and DJs working today.

From track one to 16, the Dilated Peoples avoid repetitive pits, while remaining inventive with different beats and scratches that enchant the listener. Evidence and Rakka Iriscience take turns on the mic, rhyming over the original beats DJ Babu lays down for them. Each artist continually reacts to the other, creating a fluidity that rarely is broken.

Some tracks feature more of DJ Babu's turntables than others, and his ability to keep the sounds in control with or without his scratches proves that each member of the Expansion Team plays an integral part to the success of the album.

DJ Babu is almost considered an MC himself because he is rapping with his hands, cutting funky beats back and forth from table to table. Track nine, "Dilated Junkies," featuring J-Rocc, Rhettmatic and Melo-D, is a showcase of the DJs skills. DJ Babu has the opportunity to prove himself and feed off the MCs. With simple lyrics that give DJ Babu the chance to create more and more throughout the song, the cutting becomes more complex.

On track 13, "War," Rakka Iriscience freestyles, proffering political and pop culture imagery of war that brings to mind protests, songs and novels written on the subject. He then ends the rap with the word "peace" echoed a few times. The song is extremely personal, finding Rakaa alone in his own world, seemingly rapping from the heart.

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"Dafari Interlude," track 15, is one of the more mesmerizing songs on the album. It is a song that is strong both lyrically and beat-wise, giving the MC and the DJ the opportunity for equally powerful expression. Throughout the song, Evidence freestyles over the beats DJ Babu gives him to work with. Lyrically, the song tells about the teaching and learning of hip-hop.

The Dilated Peoples is a strong trio that has produced an equally potent album in Expansion Team. The group take hip-hop back to the beginning, but also take it into the future, with beats that are memorable and mesmerizing.

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