Neighborhood Watch

Artist: Dilated PeoplesTitle: Neighborhood WatchRating: 3 1/2 StarsReviewed by: Martin Berrios

Let’s face it; Hip-Hop has changed throughout time. The days when MC’s rapped for the love of the culture are now few and far between. Fortunately Dilated Peoples’ work speaks for itself. Since their humble independent beginnings on ABB Records, their music has always been heartfelt. From rocking hole in the wall clubs to Volvo commercials, they continue to grow slowly but surely in a climate that suffers from artists that are here today and gone tomorrow. Now two albums deep (The Platform & Expansion Team), Dilated are back with their third installment Neighborhood Watch.

The album opens up strongly with the Alchemist produced “Marathon.” Evidence and Rakaa’s delivery compliments the bass heavy track perfectly. Both sound like senior classmen showing the newbies how it is properly done. On the piano heavy “Caffeine,” Evidence solidifies his spot as the group’s front man with a confident swagger in his tone. “So far I’ve been misunderstood/wherever I fall I make the category look good,” he boasts. His rhyme partner Rakaa is no slouch on the microphone either. His solo “Big Business” is a brilliant political commentary targeted at our country’s misconduct.

The California based trio does not stray far from their comfort zone in regards to their beat selection. They enlist underground producer Joey Chavez and honorary Queensbridge inductee Alchemist for most of the album, but it is their own DJ Babu that shines the brightest behind the boards. Babu supplies an energetic banger on “Closed Session” which features fellow Cali spitters Defari, Phil Da Ag, and Planet Asia. The track’s raw sound is reminiscent to El-P’s early work with Company Flow.

Neighborhood Watch does falter with its lack of depth. The album fails to stand out amongst their previous work, offering nothing new to the listener. Evidence and Rakaa seldom switch up their cadence or wordplay thus making the music sound repetitive. Both could benefit from adding some more energy into their steeze, “Poisonous” and “Who’s Who” suffer from the MC’s lackadaisical approach. Furthermore, Kanye West easily steals the show on the lead single “This Way.”

At the end of the day, Neighborhood Watch is just another typical release from Dilated Peoples. Sadly they have yet to show any noticeable artistic growth. When one takes the group’s potential into consideration, you can only wonder, “Where is the classic album?”