Dilated Peoples Lift Up Underground Hip-Hop

Fremont Country Club, Jan. 16

Photo by Linda Evans

Photo by Linda Evans

There’s hip-hop that’s about magazine covers and gossip columns, movie deals and clothing lines. Then there’s hip-hop that’s about beats and rhymes: That’s where Dilated Peoples come in and that’s what they brought to Las Vegas.

The stage was hopping long before the headliners took it, as local heroes Mr. Ebranes and Ekoh represented the scene well with tight, crowd-pleasing sets. Then Evidence, Rakaa and DJ Babu stepped out from behind the curtain to give a clinic in how the underground rolls. Standouts included “Kindness for Weakness” and “Marathon” with its we don’t run from shit/we run to it refrain. Also solid was a rapid-fire rendition of the timely yet paranoid (timely because it’s paranoid?) “Century of the Self,” where big oil and big pharma, the TSA and the GMO, Jay Z and Galactus are all out to get us.

DJ Babu—one of the world’s greatest battle turntablists and beat jugglers—supplied one of the evening’s big moments when he reminded this city what a DJ really is and what a DJ really does. His juggle-shred of the Roots’ “Seed 2.0” had the whole house howling. Dilated Peoples have been carrying the torch of purist hip-hop for more than 20 years and we’re glad they came to shed a little light on Las Vegas.★★★✩✩

Photos by Linda Evans

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