Dilated Peoples - Directors Of Photography

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Production and rhyme patterns can be representative of time and era. Dilated Peoples' "Directors Of Photography" transcends the notion in the best way possible.

“I’m out in the shed and the tools brand new.” With this single line, Evidence succinctly articulates the essence of Directors of Photography, Dilated Peoples’ first LP since 2006’s 20/20. In those eight years, Evidence, Rakaa Iriscience and DJ Babu have all kept busy, but the mind of the group itself has only progressed. Speaking recently with HipHopDX, Babu discussed the hiatus in better detail, saying, “We needed that break. We needed to decompress. On many levels, creatively, personally.” But the passion for the group never faded. “We all have this incredible love for Dilated and we wanted to keep nurturing it.”

Not only is the album much anticipated, it’s also Dilated Peoples’ debut release on the Rhymesayers imprint. A lot can happen in eight years—be it a label change or just a pursuit of personal satisfaction. But the consensus seems to be that it was necessary. The premise of the reunion was to build upon the foundation already in place. “If anything, we felt like this legacy needs this album,” Babu added. “It deserves this album. I feel like this album brings us full circle.”

The all-star production team, led by Evidence and Babu, includes Alchemist, DJ Premier and 9th Wonder, among others. The beats are predominantly dark, but in a good way. In his interview with DX, Babu alludes to this possibly being the final Dilated album, so the tone certainly reflects the notion. As a result, the verses hit a little harder, while also being a little bit sharper in general. And Babu’s scratches add a valuable layer to the experience, establishing a steady rhythm overall; the head-bobbing is contagious and continuous. Finding 100% sample-based Hip Hop albums in 2014 is almost a rarity, but Directors of Photography is the exception. There are no fancy effects or contemporary trends, like synths or EDM beats, which makes the album truer to its roots than most other recent veteran releases. There really isn’t a bad beat to be found.

Lyrically, the content is refreshing. Evidence and Rakaa frequent the introspective and first person narratives. From the get-go on each track, they pull the listener in by the ears and seize hold. When defining a lyrically dense Hip Hop album, there are many facets involved— be it message, use of big words, flow, and so forth. Dilated touches on all of them. For instance, Evidence and Rakaa use run-on, interconnecting verses on several occasions (“Let Your Thoughts Fly Away,” “Trouble”). Technicalities aside, thought provocation isn’t hindered on the listener in the slightest. On “Good As Gone,” Evidence raps, “Devise a plan then I execute it ‘til I’m undisputed / If the record never stated, I’ve been showing most improvement / At a time when my peers declined I used it as a booster / Used the dedication as a plus, I ain’t used to losers.” Once again, he gives listeners a concise summary of Hip Hop’s changing landscape since 20/20. Artists have come and go, but the Dilated crew has only gotten better. And between this album and Lord Steppington with Alchemist, Evidence alone is having a truly great year.  

As mentioned before, Babu’s involvement adds a vital layer to the album. With each track being so infectious, the audio samples he includes act as useful components or transitions between songs. The above average quality of each song enhances the album’s replay value, but Babu’s contributions deserve particular praise. The sequencing and scratching makes the album even more captivating.

Directors of Photography is a top-notch effort. Production and lyrics are both outstanding, and there are few qualms, if none at all. Ten years have passed since “This Way” was all over the radio, but Directors of Photography sounds like the exact same Dilated Peoples formula they’ve been using since The Platform. This time, however, it’s elevated both lyrically and musically. Production trends and rhyme patterns can often be representative of time and era. Directors of Photography, transcends this notion, and in the best way possible. With the cobwebs brushed away and an apparent hunger for more, Dilated Peoples step up and deliver in every aspect.

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57 Comments

  • Dilated Fan since they were Fatliners

    I'm disappointed with this release. The production is mediocre. It seems these guys are getting better at taking pictures than making records. What happened to Ev's voice? It sounds like he's damaged his vocal cords or something. A lot of the people saying "Oooh this is dope!" are younger fans who didn't see these guys performing back when they were REALLY dope. Dilated Peoples is a "cool" group to be down with still, they've got a lot of trendy friends and associates, but as someone who has supported them since they were releasing singles on ABB, I am less than impressed. Boooooo! You guys can do better!! Stop taking pictures and flying around helicopters taking snaps of L.A. and come back down to earth to MAKE GOOD MUSIC!

  • Koopa

    I was in drought of good new music so I came to this site, and this page, and was not disappointed one bit, like holy shit these guys are REALLY good, Let Your Thoughts Fly Away, L.A. River Drive and Century of the Self were my favourites, but this is one of those albums where eventually, every song on it was your favourite at one point, I'll learn to appreciate the other songs more as time goes on, this happened about a year ago when I discovered The Underachievers - Indigosm. This album will be considered classic in a few years time I'm sure. I didn't think I'd find something as impressive as Legends Never Die, Killmatic or Indigoism, but this is up there!

  • LA_BLUE

    Took 8 years for the people to get another project from Expansion Team's finest, and maaaannn how they didn't disappoint in any way , shape or form! This album is CLASSIC ! Rakka really shined on this one as far as his lyrics. EV continues to grow as an artist which is simply awesome to watch from his likwit crew days producing with E-Swift. And Babs. One word for the rooms of the game or for those who simply haven't caught on yet.. "BEAT JUNKIE SOUND!!"

    • WTF

      WTF r u talking about? The production is SO average! All these years and this is the best they could do?!?! SHIT, they shoulda just had Alchemist produce the album! The beats on Step Brothers are 10 times better than this shit! Big disappointment!

  • Photo album negro

    I need to listen to it again...but definantly not a borderline classic for me. Sorry. I like them too.

  • lewis

    Great beat on Show Me The Way

  • Zach

    Great album all around. Great production, great lyrics, great smooth delivery, great theme and the instrumentals are a hell of a lot of fun to rap to.

  • rosslogan93

    here's our Dilated Peoples review http://whatyouregoingtosee.wordpress.com/2014/08/16/dilated-peoples-directors-of-photography/

  • Slappa

    Love that production. Can't believe some find it "boring", but that's how tastes work I guess. 5/5; a near-flawless album. This and Barrel Brothers are the best releases so far in 2014. Two new classics. We listeners are lucky.

  • Anonymous

    Alchemist's "beats" are really drowning this album.

  • Zap Sacever

    "There really isnt a bad beat to be found." Yeah, and (appart from Good as Gone) an especialy good one is also nowhere to be found. I find this production really stale and boring, but at least Evidence is on point as always (liked Lord Steppington better tho).

    • Anonymous

      this is the weakest dliated album i have heard. I Am not sure why people like it this album when all there another albums are far superior

    • Bizzalls

      HAHAHA! Exactly Zap! Good As Gone is the only excellent beat on the whole fucking album! You are totally right. All these other fuckheads have no idea what they're talking about.

    • The Truth

      Lord Steppington sucked hard! I have Amphion Helium 3's and a SVS PB-2000 and both of these albums beats sound bad. The better sound system you have, the worse Alchemist's beats sound.

  • Nick

    As a die hard fan of Dilated I am very happy with this album. With that said, like any other dilated joint, you got to listen to the track and get a feel for it. Just one listen ain't going to be enough for you to love this group the way I do. They are more then just rappers and dj's, they are men with a passion for what they love to do so give this album a listen and get inspired. If your a true hip hop listener then this will restore your faith in humanity. I'm proud to say that Dilated is BACK AGAIN!

  • Tito

    As much as I like Dilated Peoples I have to say that after listening the album 3 or 4 times this is their album that I'm enjoying less. To be honest I'm not even enjoining it so I think I'll remove the album from my Google Play Music All Acccess library. Specially the beats is the main problem of the album. I don't know who produced each track but it's doesn't sound like the typical Dilated Peoples sound that I enjoyed on their previous albums. As Babu, Evidence and Rakaa hjave mad respect from other artists and hip hop media I'm not surprised to see such good comments about the album but I'm really not feeling and I think it will be forgotten soon easily. If I have to give it a rate I would give it just 3 stars.

  • Pyro041

    Wow, what a great review. Been a fan of DP since '04. Enjoyed Ev's solo work too (can somebody say Weatherman LP :D)... This would be a great aural pleasure... No Pause. Ha!

  • 77mac77

    Its early days but at the moment id say its definately up there with The Platform and Expansion Team. I always felt Neighbourhood Watch and 20/20 although having some great tracks were a little patchy in places, but this feels like a more satisfying package. So far so dope.

  • Bizzalls

    A four and a half??? The beats are fuckin weak!! Besides the Premier joint and a couple other ones, the beats are some of their worst yet! HipHopDX, you guys need help. You have issues. 4.5? You guys make no sense, this album is a huge letdown. A 3 is more like it.

  • BNats

    This album sounds amazing on vinyl. Just what the hiphop heads needed!

  • drake runs rap

    No swag on this. Irrelevant. YMCB for life!

  • son of a sax

    Well worth the wait

  • Rain

    Damn this album is amazing. I just finished the album, and it's damn near flawless. The beats and Rhymes including the group synergy is at an all time high!

  • PAhiphopFAN

    FIGURE IT OUT!!! Dilated back like they never left! Hopefully they have a few more albums in the contract!

  • D-Train

    Not feeling this album, the production is stale and no hard hitting tracks...The raps r cool just like all their stuff but they have some flat production, even premo's track was sub par. For me this is their worst album to date just boring, I wanted to like it but I don't,

  • Venice Synergy

    The production on this album is second to none, I see why this album took so many years to release. This is what hip hop was and DP shows it's still here, growing up in Venice and running into EV every so ofton I would always ask....when does it drop" his response "still working it" Mr slow flows evolution lyricly is front and center. Rakaa doesnt disapoint either as they say two peas in a pod. Both put it down on their own work but together they are untouchable. Babu what else can you say, his production value is so important to the DP movement, knows when to jump in and jump out and thats why he gets 33 and a 1/3. CA ALL DAY love the new hardware

    • Venice Synergy

      Huh, you mean you set aside that jcole and jeezy so you can review this DP album? bro hell ya Im biased...and proud of it CA ALL DAY You an ignorant bitch. I hear Nicky Minaj has a new album out I'll look out for your review.

    • HUH?

      Bro, are you dumb? The production is second to none?? WTF r u hearing? You biased muthafucka, you. The beats suck on here! Aside from the Preem track! Fuck outta here homo

    • NeoJeeoh

      ^^ Well said on all parts. You can literally hear the years of work put into this... And have you seen the physical album packaging? Their art has definitely evolved, matured.

  • Ralph Rotten

    5/5 Best Dilated album yet IMO

  • Andi Rock

    Way dope album worth the wait. Thanks Dilated.

  • Anonymous

    This album was what czarface was for me last year a time worp into that 90's classic sound

  • NeoJeeoh

    Just listened to the album end-to-end, twice. Every single track is genuine and amazing. Even the interludes. I feel nostalgic and excited, like an overdue reunion with old friends. Only real music can do this. Can't wait until I see them at the Whisky tomorrow!

  • Kenzo

    This is a real dope hip-hop album laced with dark and witty rhymes, melodic but ferocious production by Alchemist, Premier 9th Wonder, and Evidence and Babu. Evidence and Rakaa came correct on it. Real hip-hop in its rawest form.

  • Because The Internet

    Just dope. Evidence went in..

  • DJJ

    They did a real excellent job with their Rhymesayers debut album! DOPE SHIT DOPE SHIT! #HIP-HOP #RSE

  • santawhite

    could be the best dilated album. hypnotic. melodic. real music.

  • whoa

    Wow... going big I see. I do think it's Dilated's best album to date.