In the eight years since the Dilated Peoples have released their last album, the sonic landscape of hip-hop has morphed into different iterations that more often than not seem indistinguishable from its traditional musical identity. With their latest LP, Directors of Photography, the triple optics crew of Evidence, Rakaa Iriscience and DJ Babu have managed to triumphantly hold tight to hip-hop’s genuine essence while still successfully displaying growth that reflects a career arc that’s gone nowhere else but up. To get the scoop on their latest project, we recently sat down with Evidence and chopped it up with him regarding Directors of Photography.
The 5th: It can go without saying that you guys are very familiar working with each other already, but since it’s been eight years since your last LP, did you learn anything new from each other going into Directors of Photography.
Evidence: Yeah that’s true that we’re very familiar with each other already, but after not having to see each other as regularly as we did back then, you get to see the growth we’ve gone through as artists. Our maturity is evident and that’s what helped us to put work into this project.
The 5th: What was the one statement you guys wanted to make when making Directors of Photography.
Evidence: Well, we really didn’t have one particular statement for this release. We – myself, Rakaa, Babu – all wanted to give an interpretation of our viewpoints. We’re making statements on what we see right now and how we feel. It’s basically drawing upon the inspiration from an actual director of photography. It’s such a crucial job, wherein they are in charge of what you’re supposed to see. They are in control of the visuals. We’re doing the same by telling our stories and painting our own pictures from how we see it.
The 5th: So did the concept of Directors of Photography have any influence from how you handle your Instagram account? Because you’re known to take some amazing photography through it.
Evidence: Yeah, it does. Funny you mention that because no one’s ever really brought it up. But yeah, Babu was actually on Instagram really early on. Back then only people from Japan and some from places like Instanbul were heavy users. And Babu put me on and showed me how he’s able to take pictures and document things from his viewpoint and share it with fans. I think he was tired of Twitter at the time. But I thought that it was a really dope platform so I got on it too when it was early. Later on, we put Rakaa on to Instagram and he ended up liking it also and started taking photographs from his own unique perspective.
The 5th: Being that you really didn’t have this kind of social media repertoire eight years ago since you had to promote your last project, how have you guys adjusted to the developments in that now to help gain new fans?
Evidence: Yeah we really didn’t have any of this social media at our disposal eight years ago. But then again its not like we were locked up in prison, fell off the face of the earth, released eight years later and then just started learning about social media. You know back then we had fan mail, which was the illest thing. We had fans actually handwriting us letters and making drawings and even putting up these really dope collages. So that was really dope. But now through social media, we’ve had a chance to have great relationships with our fans. It’s dope to interact regularly with them and put a face to a name and see them front row at our shows, then even probably take a picture with them for Instagram. Plus we’ve all been releasing smaller side projects in between the time of our last LP to keep fans up on new music regularly.
The 5th: Now being veterans of the west coast hip-hop scene, how do you view the scene now and where do you think it’s headed?
Evidence: Well what’s going on right now in LA’s scene is really dope, and not just from a gangsta rap stand point, or a commercial stand point or even an underground stand point. There’s just a lot of kids out there making dope music and some of them I like to hit up and work with. Some of them are really thankful for that but at the same time I’ve got to thank them too for putting out some ill shit and keeping the scene alive. There’s a lot of cats out there getting their deserved shine and plenty others who aren’t due to some bullshit. But there’s really an active scene. Now before I start naming names and forgetting others or leaving out deserving ones, I just gotta say that there’s plenty of dope music coming out of LA. And it doesn’t even have to be about what’s commercial or what’s underground. A commercial rapper who’s on the radio is giving his point of view as much as I am rapping about my own point of view.
The 5th: As of right now, after the release of Directors of Photography, how are you guys approaching things? Are you going to let the project breathe a little or are you guys back in the studio working on even more Dilated or even solo stuff?
Evidence: We’re taking it one step at a time. We really want to just pay respects to what we’ve put out right now and leave it at that, because I put in some great work, Rakaa put in some good work and Babu also put in a lot of work to this project. So for now, we’re just gonna chill and let the fans enjoy what we’ve got for them and let them take in this new music.