The Pupils’ Champion

by on September 5, 2014

As a genre defined by ego, hip hop is saturated with the musical equivalent of chrome scrotums on hoopty bumpers. Take the lyrically and cranially shorn Pitbull, for example.

Seasoned collective Dilated Peoples represents the opposite end of the spectrum, where confidence is implicit and words aren’t wasted on self-inflation. After eight years away, they remain delusion free.

Directors of Photography focuses on Dilated hallmarks, laying subtle alliteration and dexterous allusion atop crisp instrumentals.

For instance, Rakaa Iriscience’s line on the track “Directors”:

Forced to war like Muhammad Ali/
shape the future like cash is clay

The trio share production duties and verses democratically, often with guest collaborators, while liberal sampling and turntable work keep beats fresh. The only negatives are occasionally indulgent interludes, which hamper the record’s momentum.

On some level, Directors of Photography is a concept album; a self-conscious ode to critical ignorance. I’m not sure what it means, and I think that’s what they intended. It’s tempting to say the lens of introspection is turned back on the listener, essentially dilating the pupil of the mind’s eye. But that’s too easy.

Dilated’s latest work lacks the transformative power of an Illmatic or Aquemini, though intriguing ideas are afoot. Undiluted production and introspective flow make it hard to pigeonhole stylistically, but in a world of Pitbulls, Directors of Photography is something like a Michael Vick.

Featured Image by Brian “B+” Cross