It has been eight years since Dilated Peoples last released a body of work but their presence has been strong since they came into the game and their fans have always stood by their side even throughout their hiatus. Now that they are back with a brand new album, Directors of Photography, their fans are beyond excited to hear their new tracks. And hip hop is fearing the impact that they are about to have on the game.
RESPECT. Mag sat down with Rakaa of Dilated Peoples to discuss Directors of Photography, working with DJ Premier and more.
RESPECT.: Your last album, 20/20, was released in 2006, how does it feel to be coming out with an album after 8 years?
It feels good. I mean we’ve been working as solo artists and doing a lot of side projects. But getting in the lab together as a group and focusing that energy on a group project is definitely a good feeling. We didn’t just want to make another nostalgia album; we didn’t want people to think we’ve been sitting around for 8 years but rather have been working and pushing that line and we didn’t want to waste everyone’s time especially our own.
Is that what inspired you guys to do this album?
That was the inspiration. Not that we really needed to tell people. We have been solo projects and knew at some point we would have to get back to doing a group project. We wanted it to be right and the timing to be right. There was no contract that said we had to do it. We fulfilled our contract with our last label. We didn’t take a check long time ago. We just wanted to make a crazy album. It’s not just about the legacy but is about pushing forward and making honest music.
How does it feel to be on a different label and release this album with a different label?
So far so good. It hasn’t come out yet so we’ll see how that goes but we know like they are a good team of people. We know them personally and worked with them. We have a couple solo projects and Step Brothers projects with The Alchemist out with them. We worked with them directly and indirectly for years so it’s still kind of a family project. It’s not like we went and signed with strangers or went for the highest bidder. We went to the place that we felt who could handle this properly on a bigger scale than we’d do out of the trunk. This was the right team and the right time.
Do you feel that your sound has evolved since your last album?
I don’t think it has changed. We weren’t chasing any sound or any particular hidden agenda and having that attitude going into it. You know as an MC when you have an ill line you know you have an ill line and when you chop an ill sample you know that’s a killer and when you feel like that about an album as opposed to a whole song you know you’re in a good place so for us we stand behind it hundred percent. We just let the music rock and speak for itself but we’re excited about the world hearing it. This album is definitely the most dilated album that represents the purest of what we have ever done. This and Expansion Team is probably my favorite album that we have ever done.
Were there any parts of this album that were tough to create?
Probably the first single was the most difficult. Me and Babu started with a different beat and concept for “Good is Gone.” We had different beat and different rhymes but we wanted the title and idea for the song. So we presented it to Evidence and he didn’t really want to do it, it was not where he was at. We got the DJ Premier track and I was like, “Yo we should do this concept.” I was re-doing my verse and re-writing the song and I had this concept. There was a bunch of drama but it was a passionate situation. Ultimately he came around to it and said, “Yo that is a good idea.” I don’t mind the process because alls well that ends well. There is whole bunch of stuff like that on the album that we were all tuned in for, heavy session work and it was something that we all cared about so much and the line we created for ourselves and the people that supported us. So we wanted to make it right.
How was it like working with DJ Premier?
There was a lot of back and forth but it all came out alright. Once we switched to the mode, “Ok you’re right lets do this,” it all worked. But as far as working with Premier that’s our big brother right there he always looked out for us pretty much from the earliest part of our career supported us. It was an honor but also it was a pleasure. Sometimes you get to work with people that it is an honor but you don’t really like the vibe and makes you wish you never met them. Premier is definitely not one of those people. He’s one of those people that he’s very up on things, he’s very aware of what is going in the scene, he’s a historian and very educated about the culture and obviously he’s a master on the beat so when you get an opportunity to work with someone like that, working with someone like that you look up to and who inspires you to do well. It’s a great feeling. He’s the whole foundation of the Gang Starr team. The only reason “Worst Comes to Worst” came out because he said, “Yo this song is ill. You have to make this your single.” It was like big brother threat we knew we had to release it. We knew if we didn’t release it would be a problem.
What was your favorite track off this album?
There is a song called “Dark Room” on there that is very ill to me which features Vince Staples. Both of the singles are crazy. It’s hard to say because we didn’t do anything we weren’t a hundred on for this album. For other albums there was a lot respect and space like, “You wanna do that? Ok cool you can do that.” On this one we were stomping our feet. We were pushing each other. There was nothing personal about this but we all just wanted to do well.
DJ Premier and Alchemist are on the production of the album. Who else contributed to the production?
Evidence, Babu, Bravo and Joey Chavez, 9th wonder, Jake One, Twiz the Beat Pro, Diamond D and Oh No. If I forgot anybody forgive me it’s been a long day!
You guys have very few features on the album compared to how others do it nowadays. How did you guys decide who you wanted on the album?
Everything was really natural. We didn’t want a feature on the song just to sell the record. We wanted it to be as close to grain as possible. So the features that were on there we felt complimented the song. It was based on the texture, the vibe and the concept.
What excites you about this project?
I’m just excited for the people who have been waiting for this long for the album. Around the world you know there are people who have been rocking with us for a long time so I’m excited for those people. It’s like when the food smells good and when it hits the table it tastes even better, it’s like that. That’s what I want for people. We’re anxious to put it out there and see how the reaction will be. We tried to raise the ball and push the line for ourselves so hopefully that will inspire others as well.
What would you like your fans to get out of this album?
It is not like one particular message album. It is not a theme album. Fans would just listen to an album that knocked really heavy and showed that you could make quality music, you could push the line forward and do what is right without chasing anybody down. You don’t have to follow a status quo or trends. You could do according to what feels right, just do it at the highest level.
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