Dilated Peoples talk recent years & new album
On Saturday, August 2, the penultimate show on Jurassic 5’s “Word of Mouth” tour landed in NYC at the Best Buy Theater. Dilated Peoples took the stage after the Beat Junkies had warmed up the crowd and kept the crowd hyped and ready for J5. Evidence, Rakaa Iriscience and DJ Babu served up some fan favourites like “Trade Money” and “Back Again” as fans shouted the lyrics along with them, waved their arms and nodded in admiration. They closed out their set with “Worst Comes to Worst” and left the crowd wanting more.
Brooklyn Radio’s Lara Gamble got a chance to speak with EV and Babu before taking the stage to talk about what DP fans can expect from their upcoming release and what’s been going on in the six years since their last release.
BR: What’s the best thing about playing in New York City?
EV: Not doing it very often. It’s like this built up, unnecessary tension that comes before each show. I think that makes you go out and do your best. It’s the home of hip-hop. It’s just what I came up on, having this fantasy about, and my parents are from Brooklyn. I’ll probably say that all that goes into it makes you put your ‘A’ game on. It’s kind of a reverse answer….
BR: But interesting…
Babu: I would say Cozy Soup ‘n’ Burger.
BR: Yes! Cozy!
BR: I like that.
BR: Tomorrow in Boston is the last stop on the “Word of Mouth” tour with Jurassic 5 and the Beat Junkies. Have you enjoyed being on the road, and are you looking forward to your shows in Europe later this month?
EV: Tomorrow is the last show. Correct. I’ve had a lot of fun. Akil and Chali 2na have been my contemporaries of marijuana consumption. You know what I’m saying? I’ve had a lot of fun seeing some new crowds and setting up our record, which was great. We’re getting a really comfortable tour to do promo. You think of promos, you think of free stuff, grinding. You know what I mean? And this is a really awesome opportunity, so that’s been great. And looking forward to going to Europe? I would say yes. You know, we just came back for this tour. We literally jumped from a month in Europe to one day off to this month, so I haven’t been home in two months. I’m off for one day, and I have a lot of squirrels. I started feeding squirrels like six years ago…more like four years ago. In the last two years, they really became my friends.
BR: They’re relying on you….
EV: Yeah, right. I asked a couple of people if they would come by and throw some nuts in the backyard, but I don’t really know. So, I’m looking forward to feeding them. And then jumping back up here because we had Russia booked on our last European tour, but the show got cancelled for logistical reasons. But we’re making that show up this time.
BR: And you have the album release show in L.A. before you go?
EV: Yeah, we have the Amoeba in-store performance, which is a record store in L.A.
BR: One of the last remaining….
EV: …great ones. You know what I mean? So perform and sign and go from there straight to the Whisky, which was one of the first places we had a Dilated show ever, so it’s like a 360 back to the beginning, really small. There’s like twenty tickets left right now. It’s going to be really good.
BR: I’d love to see you guys in L.A.
EV: Yeah, it’d be dope! And then after that we get a couple days off and go to Europe, and then after that, I have no fucking idea.
BR: That’s a good thing.
EV: Yeah, yeah. I don’t want to look that far.
BR (To Babu): Do you want to speak to that? Are you looking forward to going to Europe?
BR: Other than L.A., where is your favourite city to perform?
EV: Warsaw, Poland. It’s P-O-L.A.-N-D
BR: Ahh. Okay.
EV: [Whispers] There’s a connection.
BR: With eight years since the release of 20/20, how is Directors of Photography a return to that signature DP sound fans know and love?
EV: I would say it’s definitely a return to our sound in a way. I would say it’s maybe even a return to before 20/20, which was our last album on Capitol. It reminds me of our 12” series previous to The Platform almost in a sense, but we made a conscious decision to really strip the record down and keep it on some boom bap shit. There’s moments where it deviates from that, but like not layering the snares with claps and finger snaps under them and not a lot of double time. But like I said, not everything that I’m saying is for the whole record but for the majority of it. We kept it really stripped down and did what we felt was us, and for that reason, I think there’s a lot of growth in being able to recognize what to do. You can move forward with what’s current, but I don’t know if that’s necessarily growth. I think it might just be to kind of fit in with the times. I don’t really know how we fit in to these times. I don’t know how we fit into radio or television. I just know that we made a record in my garage where there’s no television. I mean, I have TVs, but the cable’s not hooked up. We just really weren’t focusing on the outside world too much. We really got down to us. It’s the record we’ve had the least cameos on, no real big name guests except for some of the production. I feel like it’s an honest piece. It took a while to get out because it took a while to get it right, and I’m happy with the result.
BR: Where did the album’s name Directors of Photography come from?
EV: DP is a director of photography. DP, Dilated Peoples. How we see each other, how we view the world, how we view each other. An audio visual experience, not just taking photos on social networks and making a name for ourselves with that as well. I mean, it’s good to know that somebody musically interested in the world can shoot a photo or can write something poetic or do things that aren’t necessarily just locked into a box of raps, so Directors of Photography was a good title.
BR: You’ve all had success as solo artists. What keeps you working together after more than twenty years?
EV: Solo records was something we wanted to do for a long time. We really couldn’t do it as easy as we thought under our label at the time, so when we got off the label in 2006, I jumped right at it. I think the solo experience helped us make this record. We learned a lot on our own. I had to grow a lot going from writing one and a half verses and maybe Rakaa does the chorus to now having to perform three verses, three hooks, no hype man. It was a big adjustment period for me. Like 2006 through 2009, it was a big learning curve, and I feel like I gained from it and brought what I learned back to the table, as did Rakaa and as did Babu.
BR: How was working with Expansion Team and Rhymesayers on this album?
EV: Expansion Team is our own thing, you know. That’s our imprint, so to speak, or our company. We partnered up with Rhymesayers to do this record. It’s not necessarily a traditional record deal, which was dope. I think Rhymesayers is cutting edge, very ahead of the viral game, really hard-working for the amount of staff that they have. What they put out, they all have to be on the risk of divorce the way they work, you know what I mean? Because they’re all just putting in so many human hours, so I salute them for everything.
BR: How do you feel about the state of hip-hop today, being veterans?
BR: You’re gonna make transcribing really difficult for me.
EV: I liked that answer.
Babu: I don’t know. I’m just happy it’s still here. There’s a lot of it now, but, you know, technology just made it easy for everyone to be able to do anything. The state of it is pretty much the same, I think. There’s just A LOT more of it. There’s a lot more pop, there’s a lot more underground, there’s everything in between, and it’s the same thing. There’s good stuff out there, you just gotta dig for it. In general, I guess hip-hop and the state of it is, it’s alive and well and kicking.
EV: Yeah like with the kind of rap I might like, or if I’m into somebody, I don’t know if I can wholeheartedly listen to everything that I’m being presented as hip-hop and rap and say, “We’re doing the same thing.” I mean, technically, we’re rhyming words, and they’re landing on the drum beat. Maybe some better than others, but it’s still really different. I think there’s definitely pop-rap, and there’s definitely underground rap, and there’s definitely things that do say, “We’re not all the same within this thing.” You know what I mean? But I’m not mad at it. There was always that. It’s just a LOT more.
BR: So is there anything else you guys want to promote or add?
EV: Our album comes out August 12. I don’t know when this is coming out.
BR: Before then because I’ll be reviewing the album too.
EV: Okay, tight.
BR: It’s amazing, by the way.
EV: You like it?
BR: I love it.
EV: That’s dope. Thank you. That means a lot.
BR: It sounds just like you’re old stuff.
EV: That means a lot. So, album coming out August 12, and I just want to say to Dilated Peoples fans, I’m learning being on this tour right now that there seems to be, not a disconnect, but there seems to be like two types of fans. Ones that know what Crown of Thorns is and know what The Weatherman is, and other ones that kind of just left off when we were running in a circle on the “Back Again” video in 2006, like “Where have you been?” And you know, I’m just replying to everybody by saying one doesn’t make you better than the other. You’re allowed to know the intricacies of the group, and that makes you incredible, but you’re also allowed to be like “You know, I just liked them when I heard them.” You don’t have to know everything about every detail of the group. What I’ve been trying to do when somebody comes up and they’re like, “Where have you been since 2006?” I’ve been trying to figure out a way to not insult them and make them feel bad for not knowing what I’ve been doing or what Rakaa has been doing. I will say a really big shout out to the people who have ridden with us in our independent phase because it’s easy to just drop it off. It seems like the numbers might not be as big, but the passion and just their desire to follow us on Twitter or buying the record or coming to the show or getting a tattoo. All of that is super notable, so thank you.
BR: Do you want to add anything?
Babu: Directors of Photography – August 12. And look for more projects from all of us.
EV: Yeah, I think that’s probably the best thing to say from here on out is it’s really great if everyone can recognize Dilated as a crew. So whether Rakaa’s rocking a weird project with fucking members of [one band] and then fucking with somebody else, you gotta know that the Dilated umbrella is on that, and we’re supporting it. If I’m doing my next solo on Rhymesayers….
BR: Right, you carry it with you.
EV: Yeah, so I just hope that this album will show everybody the solidarity and that we pulled together to make it. And then from here on out, whether we do rush to make another Dilated, or we do make a Duck Season or whatever, you understand that we fuck with each other, and that’s the bigger picture of Dilated Peoples and Expansion Team.