Neighborhood Watch Caught Napping on the Job
As longtime heroes of the LA underground hip hop circuit, Dilated Peoples were rarely pressured for new material. However after the success of 2002â€šÃ„Ã´s Expansion Team, emcees Evidence and Rakaa and DJ extraordinaire Babu have now found that for every great record comes greater expectations for the follow-up. As a result, the trioâ€šÃ„Ã´s Neighborhood Watch is one of the most anticipated hip hop records of the year, but unfortunately also demonstrates that Dilated Peoples is not ready to respond to such high demand for their craft.Watch is a series of highs and lows, the kind of musical rollercoaster that is thrilling at times but is still most suitable for children under 48 inches in height. DPâ€šÃ„Ã´s topics vary from clever and unique (see their comparison of their music to an injection of â€šÃ„Ãºrap caffeineâ€šÃ„Ã¹ or jabs at Americaâ€šÃ„Ã´s upper class on â€šÃ„ÃºBig Businessâ€šÃ„Ã¹) to unoriginal and uninspired (like money hungry females and the size of their weed stash). Evidence and Rakaaâ€šÃ„Ã´s serious manner fits well on tracks such as the opening cut â€šÃ„ÃºMarathonâ€šÃ„Ã¹ and Evidenceâ€šÃ„Ã´s solo â€šÃ„ÃºCaffiene,â€šÃ„Ã¹ but in trying to keep the game face on during the lighter â€šÃ„ÃºPoisonousâ€šÃ„Ã¹ or â€šÃ„ÃºWorld on Wheelsâ€šÃ„Ã¹ they remind the listener more of overly serious mall security guards than emcees.
Watchâ€šÃ„Ã´s real star is DJ Babu, whose innovative beats and fresh samples never falter and could easily stand alone and be enjoyable. Also fantastic is the flute-laden feel-good anthem â€šÃ„ÃºThis Way,â€šÃ„Ã¹ rapped almost entirely by Kanye West and backed by a finally energetic Rakaa. Neighborhood Watch is an enjoyable record, it just does not fully reach the potential for greatness that DP showcases in glimpses throughout.