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Friday, May 12, 2006


Dilated Peoples "20/20"

P. Diddy once rapped "Don't worry if I write rhymes, I write checks." Dilated Peoples' fourth full-length album, "20/20," opens with rapper Evidence countering with the tongue-in-cheek "Don't worry if I write checks, I write rhymes." And like Diddy, Dilated have the means to back up their proclamation. The L.A. trio rose to prominence after forming in the mid-1990s, and, despite signing to a major label, their moderate mainstream success has allowed them to stay at the forefront of underground rap.

"20/20" won't bring about any change in hip-hop's hierarchy, but it does offer insightful, biting social commentary and hard-hitting, nod-along beats. Rakka and Evidence's tag-team rhymes and clever wordplay are as sharp as ever, and the album has a crystal clear vision of the band's political views. Evidence calls George Bush Lucifer on "Satellite Radio," while Rakka chimes in with "Plus George got a few more years, that's a couple wars there and a couple more here," on "Alarm Clock Music."

The mood lightens on "Back Again," which has the album's best one-liner: "I ain't smoke weed no more, but ain't smoking no less." Unfortunately, the pot references continue during a series of ill-fated, unamusing skits. In the band's defense, maybe they were just too high to know better.

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