Neighborhood Watch

Solemn purists in a hip-hop scene defined by trends and flash, Dilated Peoples treat rap with reverence. Despite Los Angeles roots, MCs Evidence and Rakaa, plus DJ Babu, echo the old-school East Coast spirit of Gang Starr, with thudding beats and a scorn for pop pandering; they celebrate self-reliance on the title track, warning cops and crooks alike to back off. If occasionally preachy, the music never falters, thanks to rubbery bass riffs and teasing electronic squiggles. "DJ Babu in Deep Concentration" finds the gifted scratcher weaving fragments of noise into a chattering symphony. If Dilated Peoples court radio play with the breezy "This Way," it's no sellout—just a groove-filled diversion.
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