Dilated Peoples Neighborhood Watch

[Capitol; 2004]

Rating: 3/5

Styles: hip-hop, underground hip-hip
Others: People Under The Stairs, Del The Funkee Homosapien

I've always been very patient when it comes to Dilated Peoples' music vision. Back when they released their debut record The Platform, Dilated Peoples showed a glimmer of hope for independent hip-hop and portrayed an immense bag of tricks and stylistic flair using tongue and cheek criticism and abstract rhymes. Although most critics dismissed the band and their personal vision, many fans witnessed the spark that was hidden amongst the album's best tracks.

Under this interpretation, I abundantly praised their efforts and anxiously awaited their sophomore release, Expansion Team. Unfortunately, the spark bled and led to a plethora of disappointing criticism for a trio of extremely talented hip-hop visionaries. There was no forward progress and their musical approach was only saved by DJ Babu's inventive work behind the turntables. Additionally, Evidence and Iriscience (the two emcees of Dilated Peoples) progressed slowly and had nothing to contribute to the success of the record.

Now, Dilated Peoples are back with their third full-length record, Neighborhood Watch; and what is immediately evident is the usual banter and shenanigans from the Dilated emcees: talk of taking over the hip-hop world, dominating and ruling as the best hip-hop emcees, and the usual braggadocio -- it's like complete deja vu. Where their original formula on The Platform was a failed endeavor, Evidence and Iriscience seem to have come to terms with this ultimate downfall on Neighborhood Watch.

The two emcees appear looser and more relaxed on many tracks of the record. Unfortunately, this change of state seems to illustrate a sense of emotionless and detached methodology. Their previous records showcased two individuals that used sarcasm and wit to portray a clear and focused social commentary. On Neighborhood Watch, their delivery is stale and unimpressive, much like the overproduced Expansion Team.

Unable to create anything remotely new and improved, Dilated Peoples fail to reach any consistent level of musical enjoyment throughout their new and uneventful album. But again, DJ Babu, the sole member of the band that deserves any recognition, saves the record from the bargain bins with his sharp and mastered beats and production.

Unsuccessful at stripping the demons of their sophomore failure, Dilated Peoples remain one of hip-hop's unseen geniuses. And that's unfortunate because many will agree that they have a lot to offer in the world of hip-hop. They just seem slightly misguided, or perhaps the mainstream has blurred their third eye vision.

1. Marathon
2. Neighborhood watch
3. Tryin' to breathe
4. Caffeine
5. Who's who
6. Poisonous
7. Reach us
8. Big business
9. Love and war
10. 1580
11. World on wheels
12. Closed session
13. This way
14. DJ Babu in deep concentration