Features

Dilated Peoples: Still rockin’ with the best

This New Year party season, Australian shores will play host to hip hop Californian crew Dilated Peoples. MCs Evidence and Rakaa Iriscience, along with DJ Babu, will be performing on Australian soil together for the very first time.

The Peoples have had an interesting ride since their inception 15 years ago, going from underground heroes, to being the next big thing (releasing the single This Way with Kanye West in 2004 – back when it was still cool to say you were working with Kanye), finally getting fed up with the majors and coming back to their independent roots. ITM spoke with Evidence ahead of their upcoming shows who assures us the following is still true. “We’re still here, we ain’t never left, Dilated Peoples you’re rockin’ with the best.”

I want to start with an obvious question; Dilated have been doing it for 15 years now, what has taken you guys so long to get down to see us?

Oh man I don’t know, you may want to ask Rakaa that more than me, I think our answers will be too different. I used to have a thing about flying, very very early but I got over that a long time ago. Then after that, it was just schedule conflicts, or promoter issues and the fact the stars just didn’t line up, but I’m really happy that it’s happening now.

Anything you’re specifically looking forward to doing while you are out here?

Depends on what our time schedule is like unfortunately. I have this video blog me and Babu do sometimes, we go to all of these exotic places and it just shows us talking in front of the coffee shop of the hotel were staying in [laughs]. It’s like an unfortunate circumstance of being a musician. You get to places and you have a couple of hours to do nothing so you just want to take that time to rest. Then it’s sound check, show, back to the hotel and maybe see something late night, parking lot, bus, then next stop. So I just don’t know what we’re going to get the time to do. But hopefully we are in good hands and they will point us in the right direction.

What can Australian audiences expect from the Dilated live set?

Ummm…sweat? I think it happens about 4th song in (laughs). We really give it our all onstage. Rakaa and I have a lot of chemistry as far as rapping phrases together, and it’s rare that we ever miss a word or a back up or something is in its wrong place. It’s not even necessarily rehearsed as far as that goes you know, I feel like I have an eye in the back of my head and likewise with him, and I think we have great stage chemistry. And having Babu behind us, I mean he is one of the nicest DJs on the decks. It’s a three-man rap combo run by the DJ, so it’s educational and entertaining… its edutational.

Is it just going to be straight up Dilated stuff, or are you going throw some solo stuff in there as well?

Yeah we’re gonna mix it up, we have a few different sets within the set. Rakaa’s gonna be premiering some of his new material from Crown Of Thorns which I’m really excited about, that’s his solo album coming out in March next year. I’m gonna be doing some of my solo stuff as well. Babu has a DJ set that’s crazy, and we sprinkle different songs from all the albums throughout the set.

Congratulations on your solo move over to Rhymesayers, that puts you on a roster alongside some of the best talent in the US. Has it sparked any projects we might not be aware of yet?

My next album is called Cats And Dogs ; it’s coming out on Rhymesayers, looking at June 22nd right now. It’s my second solo album, third if you include The Layover which was my EP. I’m really excited about it, you know my records with Dilated and my solo records have a lot of the same fundamentals, but also differ a bit so it’s good to see a side of me that’s more introspective, dealing with more issues with me as a person. Whereas Dilated’s more about emcee combo’s and bigger songs. I’m really excited for Rakaa to come out with his solo album Crown Of Thorns right now. Cause you’ll definitely get to see a side of Rakaa that people need to see, and once we gets those albums out its back for the next Dilated record so it’s a really exciting time right now, and I’m definitely proud to be a part of Rhymesayers as well.

Does Dilated actually have a label at the moment or are you guys label less?

Yeah we don’t have a label, no.

Are you open to having Dilated on Rhymesayers or do you want to keep your solo stuff completely separate?

No there has actually been talks about that too! When we got off the label Capitol initially we had some offers, but it was important to us to do these solo records. Rakaa’s has taken two and half years but his records gonna be so crazy, you know it’s gonna be a powerful thing. I’m gonna be doing my second one now and once that one comes out we’ll start looking at the options we have for Dilated in regards to a label.

What were the major pressures that Capitol put on you as Dilated, exactly how much control do they have over your final product?

They actually gave us a lot of freedom at Capitol to do what we wanted to do, that’s the reason we went there in the begging. The Platform, the majority of it was done. We were in talks with Interscope, it came down to them and Capitol, and Capitol was much more willing to just put it out as is. The thing about Capitol is, the president we signed with, wasn’t necessarily the president that was there for the end of our second and our third record. He saw us in a different light and when we turned in the record Neighbourhood Watch, minus the song This Way, they put us kind of back in the studio to make something and we went in with Kanye and did This Way. Which was a blessing and I still love that experience, I’ll never forget it. But at the same time that was them trying to say we’re ready to see you perform on a different level, you know it’s now if there’s ever gonna be a time. It was a good lesson learned, I definitely don’t regret it like I said, but with an independent I don’t think there’s any really sending your record back. It’s just like if they believe in you as an artist they’re there to support your movement and that’s what it’s what it’s been with Deacon, and I’m definitely willing to believe that Rhymesayers will be the same as well.

Being such a prolific producer I would be interested to get your opinion on this. A lot of the hip hop that is getting air time these days is leaning more and more towards dance music infused beats. Do you feel this is a natural evolution for hip hop or is it something born out of major label influence?

That’s a complicated question… It’s a great question actually. Ummm… I’m not mad at the evolution of anything you know, and I’m not the type to say it has to stay this way to stay pure or whatever. It just so happens I like what I like and I just focus on that, and if it attracts a certain type of person then that’s a blessing, if anybody at all. I feel like there’s formulas that get written in, not necessarily all driven by major label influence but there’s definitely a formula that gets set and put down. And people that are willing to play copy cat or get second and third or fifth or tenth in line can participate. Where as if your trying to change a format or something like that, it gets complicated, so you know, yes and no. But the thing is, you can’t go to a new generation and try to tell them what your generation was, and how and why its better or worse, you just can’t do that, it wouldn’t have worked for me.

Earlier this year you did Rock The Bells with Alchemist, and you have just wrapped up your tour with Brother Ali. Do you have a favourite moment from either of those tours?

Alchemist and myself is just fun everywhere we go, it’s just crazy, we feel like the Beastie Boys or something, our stage presence is wayyy out. So you know for me to try to highlight a moment would be difficult when I hang out with him every day. I’ll just say…he’s a little guy with Big Beats! Then Brother Ali, this tour has been one of my favourites of all time, and I’ve been on a lot of tours. I basically got in a van with six or seven strangers, I mean I know them in passing but I’ve never hung out with them. I really made a good friendship with those dudes, there just a class act. You know doing so many shows in so few days really just made us have a bond that I haven’t really experienced before. As far as being on the road with someone for so long through thick and thin, as far as time schedules and gettin it in, and I look forward to doing something with them again.

Well, we’re very much looking forward to having Dilated here for the first time.

Word, hopefully see you soon… Peace

Catch Dilated Peoples as they play Australian shores for the very first time:

Thursday December 31st – Origin, Perth

Friday January 1st – Summadayze, Adelaide

Sunday January 10 – Days Like This!, Sydney