The underground”s reigning poster children, California-based hip-hop trio Dilated Peoples are almost standard on mixtapes and hip-hop compilations. Evidence, Rakaa Iriscience, and DJ Babu pride themselves on keeping the art of hip-hop pure by not selling out to the mainstream, and it appears to be working with their sophomore joint Expansion Team, a follow-up to last year”s impressive, yet slept-on debut The Platform.

Paul Wong
Blitzstein (David Wolber), Eva (Carla Milarch) and Welles (Travis Reiff) contemplate a whole new world.<br><br>Courtesy of Daniel C. Walker/Performance Network

The album consists largely of their trademark battle rhyming, using colloquialisms and catchphrases in that unique manner that only signifies their uncorrupted marriage with the microphone. Evidence has an intense, dark rhyme style that can be evidenced (no pun intended) on the equally intense Alchemist-produced “Panic.” Iriscience has a calmer, but no less thought-provoking flow style listen to him wax poetic over Brother ?uestlove”s drums in “War,” a track that folks may want to give some attention to with all the current drama going on. DJ Babu, not to be undone as the only non-rhyming member of the group, absolutely kills it on the one and two”s, even producing a couple of songs along the way, including the piano-laden “Pay Attention,” and the heavily sampled “Proper Propaganda.”

The Alchemist makes an impressive return to the boards on this album, having been the primary producer of the first record. There is, however, a much more diverse line of producers this time around, including the legendary DJ Premier, on the lukewarm “Clockwork.” Da Beatminerz, still healing from their own disappointing album, produces “Trade Money,” another okay track that leaves something to be desired. Evidence even tries his hand at a number of tracks, including the banging “Heavy Rotation,” featuring a shining lyrical contribution from The Roots” Black Thought.

Dilated Peoples practice one very underrated method in their music making: Consistency. This album is really no better or worse than the first, and the sound and flow have not changed at all a general benefit of staying underground there is no reason to switch it up and sell out for the sake of appealing to a more diverse crowd. Many would argue, however, that their lack of any commercial appeal is not beneficial to a well-rounded hip-hop album. Regardless, they continue to hold it down firmly representing a state that doesn”t yield as much appreciation for their style. Fans of the first album, or just those looking for a nice, pure hip-hop album to wet their tastes, need not search any further.

Grade: B

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