20/20

Studio Album by released in 2006
20/20's tracklist:
Green Trees (feat. Dr. Greenthumb)
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Back Again
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You Can't Hide, You Can't Run
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Alarm Clock Music
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Olde English (feat. Defari)
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Kindness for Weakness (feat. Talib Kweli)
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Another Sound Mission
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Rapid Transit (feat. Krondon)
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The Eyes Have It
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Satellite Radio
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Firepower (The Tables Have to Turn) (feat. Capleton)
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The One and Only
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20/20
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20/20 review

Dilated Peoples return to their artistic roots on 20/20

Dilated Peoples have been thrashing around in the hip-hop undergrowth for more than ten years. With just a few releases, they have energized the rap underground in similar fashion to fellow West Coast crew Jurassic 5. The duo of Evidence and Rakaa came together in the mid-'90s, when they met at many of the same hip-hop shows; after deciding to start making tracks together, they formed Dilated Peoples. Later they added to the fold an excellent turntablist DJ Babu of the Beat Junkies. Since emerging in 1997 on ABB Records (also home to Little Brother and Defari), Dilated Peoples has been among the most respected rap groups. The success of the their single Third Degree/Confidence/Global Dynamics made the Los Angeles-based trio a fixture on the tour circuit. Their shows demonstrated that hip-hop shows could be entertaining and prominently feature a DJ. Dilated Peoples’ first three albums – 2000’s The Platform, 2001’s Expansion Team and 2004’s Neighborhood Watch – are hailed as exemplary examples of quality hip-hop. After scoring the biggest hit of their career last year with the Kanye West-produced This Way, Dilated Peoples return to their artistic roots on 20/20. The album features a diverse collection of styles.

The album features classic sounding Dilated Peoples tracks

20/20 wasn't built as a traditional album, but rather a collection of tracks. The track list bounces between outstanding and hypothetical A-sides – the body-moving Back Again, the fiery Alarm Clock Music, and Kindness for Weakness, which features guest Talib Kweli along with some of DJ Babu's fiercest scratches – and the more word-filled, almost freestyle B-sides that could accompany them. The album features classic sounding Dilated Peoples tracks like Alarm Clock Music and collaboration with Capeton on the reggae themed track Firepower (The Tables Have to Turn). 20/20 flows like a compilation of street tracks, which is quite an achievement when you consider the group is still signed to major label Capitol. The articulate You Can’t Hide, You Can’t Run exhibits the group’s improved rhyme schemes over funky scratches and a lively piano. Only two tracks feature the work of producer Alchemist – Back Again and the title track – which might be a disappointment for some, but Evidence and Babu are up to the challenge of an increased workload and offer lean loops that recall their debut.

Insightful lyrics and lesser covered, thought-provoking themes

Production on the album is a courtesy of aforementioned Alchemist, Joey Chavez and Bravo, as well as Dilated Peoples’ Evidence and DJ Babu. Dilated Peoples continue to take the traditionalist approach to hip-hop as is immediately evident on this album's first single Back Again, which finds DJ Babu's turntable wizardry at the fore. He's given equal billing with rappers Evidence and Rakaa throughout this unashamedly uncommercial offering. Theirs is not a world of guns and drugs, or if it is, that's never their main focus. Instead you're treated to insightful lyrics and lesser covered, thought-provoking themes such as backpacking, the things life sometimes unexpectedly throw at us on You Can't Hide, You Can't Run and street revolution on Firepower (The Tables Have to Turn). The latter is about as far as it deviates from the classic Dilated Peoples vibe, because for the most part it's all about tight, clever rhymes, strong beats and funky scratching. While 20/20 might be a shade too unambitious for casual listeners expecting another Expansion Team, Dilated Peoples heads looking to kick back and listen get plenty of pure underground to devour. The band still has enough verbal ammunition to ignite the mind.