Dilated Peoples Live @ The Roxy (Los Angeles)
Images by Michael Kinsey, Words by Masha
About two hours before the Dilated Peoples hit the Roxy’s circular stage on Sunset, half the crowd inhabited the floor, some waiting with baseball caps aslant. They were not sculptures. Anticipation in the eyes of a soft-spoken, pale, young, thin male near us disappeared as the smoke lifted from his lips. This crowd was diverse, and eager to see the “Director’s of Photography.”
Gluttons for truth, eyes starving for light, the disco ball overhead cast golden ringlets on bodies that swayed. The curtain went down again for the last time before a packed venue. The Dilated Peoples began playing before the black fabric lifted, revealing the trio’s vibrant stage presence and well-crafted set list. They hop between old songs half-sung by the crowd, raucous comments on the music industry, and fresh tracks to boot.
“This one is from our new album coming out this spring” Evidence shares, “I just heard the beat this morning. Now I want you to put all of your phones down. You paid for this, why would you want others to see it for free?” His honest comments come from the genuine heart of a true musician who isn’t afraid to assert himself within a corrupt system, and it spilled over into a preface of “Now this is rough, I mean really rough. By the time you hear this song on the album it will be all polished and clean.” It was a special treat to peek into their writing process revealed on stage. Afterwards the artist admitted the struggle to memorize his own words in time for the performance. (When you’re too busy being in a groove, sometimes the words fly by in an effervescent torrent.)
“I want you to focus now”, Rakaa commends the crowd, channeling the energy towards a new attention of sounds, something like submarines and their beat-up sonar waves. A turntable solo by DJ Babu. He tweaked the tables like touching fire, turning the bass off for a second, with an expression as if he just did something naughty. Beats dropped faster than the Taiwanese schoolgirl in the back could nod her head. There was an unseen craft to musicianship that swelled, where words were weaved within the beats to leave a coppery after-sound in the mind, like an after-taste in the mouth.
After taking six years to focus on their respective solo work, the Dilated Peoples have united once again to create a new album, titled Directors of Photography on Rhymesayers, following the visionary themes of their previous projects infused with new delights. In the iridescent light of their jaded attitude, mainstream commercial acclaim does not seem to be their aim. Worst comes to worst, they’ll make a good collection of beats and rhymes respected by people who care for substance in their musical consumption. This show was ill, and IPMM was happy to be a part of it.