Dilated Peoples have stayed busy in the eight years since 20/20 dropped; and although fans have had the Evidence and Alchemist collab Step Brothers, a solo LP from Rakaa and plenty of opportunities to catch Babu tearin’ up wax live with the Beat Junkies; the hunger for that realness they dropped on The Platform and Expansion Team hasn’t diminished in their collective absence. Directors Of Photography finds the three man crew sounding fresher than ever on their Rhymesayers début, delivering a rock-solid return to their independent roots over heavy beats from 9th Wonder, Premo, Diamond D and more.
After a smooth intro loop sets the tone, Directors announces ‘Dilated never left, I’d like to welcome us back’, before The Alchemist stacks hard kicks under clean keys on Cut My Teeth‘s heavyweight head nods, and the emcee’s trade intricate bars over DJ Premier’s dynamic samples on Good As Gone. Show Me The Way sees Jake One and Aloe Blacc bring a more accessible sound, while Babu brings the heat over Figure It Out‘s b-boy breaks and D.I.T.C veteran Diamond D provides a highlight on Let Your Thoughts Fly Away; finding Iriscience touching on governmental suppression before channelling Adam Curtis over Oh No’s dramatic piano lines on Century Of The Self.
The balance the emcee’s strike between social commentary and straight-up lyrical skill is aptly demonstrated on the one-two-combo of Opinions May Vary and Trouble, seeing Dilated progress past what Evidence once described as ‘rap about rapping’ towards a more insightful position to kick knowledge without preaching. And as the album reaches it’s conclusion, Alchemist flips a killer vocal cut on stand-out anthem L.A. River Drive, 9th Wonder’s memorable instrumental uplifts on The Bigger Picture, Ev’s soul loops back fly rhymes on Times Squared and the mammoth crew cut Hallelujah boasts ill bars from JMT’s Vinnie Paz, Jamla emcee Rapsody, Action Bronson, Fashawn, and Domo Genesis. With solid performances from everyone involved, Directors Of Photography is a fine return to form. Taking the craft back to it’s sample-driven essence with a focus on sustained lyrical skill over fleeing gimmicks, without a wack beat in sight.
Buy it here.