It’s hard to believe, but it’s been 15 years since Dilated Peoples released The Platform. Their critically acclaimed debut album still stands as one of the group's finer works and helped usher in a new era for West Coast hip-hop as gangsta rap’s dominance began to fade.
Evidence, Rakaa Iriscience and DJ Babu first joined forces in 1992, and would soon build a strong reputation in the Los Angeles hip-hop scene. Their profile began to rise with some memorable singles released through ABB Records, which helped the group land a deal with Capitol Records. Dilated Peoples would release The Platform on May 23, 2000, as their proper debut and give them credit as one of the leaders in the underground hip-hop landscape at the time.
Over a decade later, Dilated Peoples remain a vital force in hip-hop. While members of the group pursued some solo ventures over the past few years, they came back to drop a brand new album, Directors of Photography, last year. The project proved to their loyal fans that the chemistry between Evidence, Rakaa and Babu is as strong as it was 15 years ago. Clearly, the final chapter in Dilated's story is yet to be written.
As the group celebrates The Platform’s 15th anniversary, The Boombox looks back at five of the best tracks off the effort. So, take a trip back in time and revisit the album that started it all for Evidence, Rakaa and Babu.
If there was ever someone that could be considered the 4th member of Dilated Peoples, it would be the Alchemist. Alchemist, a childhood friend of Evidence, was a frequent producer of Dilated’s greatest records. “Annihilation” is an example of that as ALC laces the group with an extra funky beat while DJ Babu adds his signature cuts throughout the track. The song provides an opportunity for Evidence and Rakaa to flex their respective rhyming muscles as the two drop some witty lines along the way. Rakaa raps, “Bustin’ off for every place I been though / I'm hard to see through like lodges with no windows / Sparks the beginning of the end of the dark / See I flood the stage hard, now you swimming with sharks / Rappers are cocky, but on the low I know they watch me / Cause weapons in my music like I'm El Mariachi / Or Desperado, pushin gat full throttle / Rock till I'm hoarse like broncos from Colorado.” It’s a fun record which showcases the group’s abilities to the fullest.
"No Retreat"Featuring B-Real
“No Retreat” is one of the most memorable tracks in the Dilated Peoples discography. Evidence’s assertive hook of “Stand my ground, dig in with both feet / No surrender, no turning no cheek, no retreat” sets the tone for this powerful anthem. Also, it doesn’t hurt to have a West Coast legend like B-Real of Cypress Hill on the track either. The song is a boastful cut that proclaims Dilated Peoples’ willingness to take on any challenge that comes their way. Evidence and Rakaa revel in their skills while frowning on the competition in this battle rap-heavy record. Add in a final verse from B-Real and you’ve got an excellent track that knocks to this day.
“The Main Event” is a solo showcase for Evidence, who absolutely knocks it out the park. Fans are well aware that Ev can handle his own from his excellent solo LPs, but this was an early sign that he could deliver without the help of Rakaa rhyming alongside him. Evidence’s old pal the Alchemist hooks him up with a banging instrumental for the rapper to use as his playground. “Ev's solution will mold to different forms / I be a double-edged sword, I be thorns / Or I transform to horns on the cattlefield / I'm always open like Norm's, equipped with battle skills / Two times I mold to the shape of a pentagon / Dilated times five is ill, ring the intercom / Evidence or Iristyle, got your file, run / Global detonation is my shape of drums / Under the sun nothing changes / Dedicated beats and lyric pages / Dilated Peoples, all ages / Suckas dressing flashy, thinking then can you defeat us / Nah, take ‘em out, wash your Nike with Adidas,” he rhymes. It’s evident that hip-hop heads are here for the main event and not a preliminary bout after listening to this one.
"Ear Drums Pop" RemixFeaturing Planet Asia, Defari, Everlast & Phil the Agony
The “Ear Drums Pop” remix is simply one of the best posse cuts in hip-hop history. That might seem like high praise for someone who hasn’t listened to this track, but one spin is all you’ll need to realize just how great this song is. The remix of “Ear Drums Pop” may be famous for sparking the beef between Eminem and Everlast, but that’s a disservice to the quality of this posse cut. Joey Chavez of Sid Roams crafted a new beat that’s a polar opposite of Evidence’s original and laid out a smooth canvas in doing so. Evidence and Rakaa drop some brand new verses and bring along some heavy hitters -- Planet Asia, Defari, Everlast and Phil the Agony -- to bolster the remix. It’s a star-studded affair as each MC is trying to one-up his counterparts with his verse. It’s a friendly competition that produces great results and shows what hip-hop in its purest form is all about.
“The Platform” is not only the title track of Dilated’s debut album, but also the best cut off the project. The Alchemist-produced song follows a familiar formula for the group with Rakaa leading things off before turning it over to Evidence. DJ Babu cuts up the track like only he can as Evidence and Rakaa share duties on the hook. The latter leans on some Star Wars references to kick things off. “Ayo The Platform, watch the storm troopers swarm / the Death Star's more than the devilish dawn / It's where evil and the force manifest their form / It's no good without bad and no night without morn," Rakaa delivers.
Evidence counters with, “'Cause when I step off, then step back on / Son you'll never catch me preaching what I'm not practicing / Word War II, Platform, the illest flows / I know my hunger's real, I still get nauseous at shows / My motto, I didn't write but this I quote / It ain't where you put your words, it's where you don't / End quote, and with this in mind / Yo, I bring flows more rare than black quarterbacks / I never got sacked or pushed ten yards back / We could go rhyme for rhyme, line for line or track for track.”
Dilated shows their love for hip-hop on the hook as they state, “Ayo the Platform, takes respect to perfect the art form / At times a battleground where rappers get their hearts torn.” That deep respect and admiration for the culture shines throughout the entire album. It’s no surprise that Dilated Peoples endeared themselves to fans with songs like these.