Dilated Peoples | Theater Critic's Choice | Chicago Reader

Dilated Peoples 

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In the PR for 20/20 (ABB/Capitol), MC and producer Evidence says the Dilated Peoples approached the new album like they were making a bunch of 12-inches: "We weren't worried about how it was going to connect and if we had two love songs and one party song," he explains. Thank the Lord. Given that the group broke out on the strength of classic singles like "Work the Angles," they ought to be thinking like that about every full-length they make. I'm willing to bet they were trying to put together a well-rounded album when they added the occasional filler track to their earlier discs, but not only is 20/20 missing that subpar stuff, it's their most cohesive work yet. The tracks aren't linked narratively or conceptually, but they all share a triumphant, self-assured aura. Part of this energy comes from the production: DJ Babu's machine-gun scratches cut deep enough to sever arteries, the beats are consistently raw and riotous, and sometimes a vocal loop from a tune's chorus pops up in the verse, letting that reminder of the chorus's heat keep the track at a boil. The rest of it comes from the way those beats mesh with Evidence's slow-as-molasses flow and Rakaa's urgent, militant delivery. The pair are proficient lyricists if not top-shelf--Evidence's clever-to-banal ratio is only about three to one these days, and Rakaa's political rhymes won't have anybody taking to the streets--but the synergy their voices create with the production is uniquely and irresistibly rousing. On their fourth album, Dilated have made good on Evidence's boast from their first: "You could freestyle better or maybe rap faster / But soundclash with us, you flirt with disaster." Little Brother and Defari open. Tue 3/7, 7:30 PM, Park West, 322 W. Armitage, 773-929-5959 or 312-559-1212, $22.50, 18+.


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