BEFORE THEIR SIXTH ALBUM DROPS, DILATED PEOPLES MC RAKAA TAYLOR (RAKAA IRISCIENCE) HAS FRAGMENTED THE DISCOGRAPHY TO INCLUDE HIS FIRST SOLO LP, CROWN OF THORNS, IT’S ALL LOVE, HE TELLS RIP NICHOLSON AND INSISTS THAT HIS RECORD IS “LESS OF A DEPARTURE AND MORE OF A CONTINUATION” OF THE GROUP’S LEGACY.
RAKAA interviewed @ 14:15 AEST – Monday 17th October, 2011
For Street Press Australia & Rip2Shredz Press
Words by RIP NICHOLSON
Images courtesy of Trevor Trayner
“It has definitely been therapeutic. It has made us want to get back in the studio together, it has made us truly appreciate our individual growth, and it has allowed us to go find new things to bring back to the family. There are no weak links in the crew, but there is a deeper magic that can be felt when we are all up there together,” admits the Los Angeleno artist, referring to Dilated Peoples, a group, a group that has always played a pivotal role in Southern Cali’s left-sided movement to advance a more consciously-aware state of hip hop. “The solo magic is sparking though. Everything is growing. I love rocking my Crown Of Thorns set though. I love to see people’s faces light up and see the different people react to different songs.”
Despite holding down his own royal affair, it’s fellow Dilated Peoples MC Evidence’s Cats & Dogs (just released) that’s held the main focus of Taylor and the Peoples’ as of late. “Cats & Dogs is at the front of my mind right now. Any project that the family does is a family project, and that is where we want everyone focused right now. Go get Crown Of Thorns and study that, then get Cats & Dogs and study that. You will need to get up to speed and prepare yourself for [upcoming Dilated Peoples album] Directors Of Photography.”
“KRS-One is the reason that I do what I do the way I do it. It was powerful to actually live the childhood dream of working with KRS-One on my album.”
Taylor joined with Evidence and Beat Junkies’ DJ Babu in 1992 and embraced L.A.’s rich and eclectic rap battleground. Their early underground releases set the Dilated Peoples up for their first studio release, The Platform, in 2000 and raised their left-coast profile. Since Peoples’ fourth album, 20/20, dropped in 2006, Taylor’s Crown Of Thorns has elevated the act’s standing in the global community and by inviting KRS-One into the fray, reaffirmed his strong convictions for the art he has chosen and has allowed him to play the student.
“In these collaborations as in life, I learned a lot and shared a lot. He [KRS-One] is the reason that I do what I do the way that I do it. It was powerful to actually live the childhood dream of working with KRS-One on my album.”
In a recent interview, Taylor had said of Crown Of Thorns that it’s the most worldly out of L.A.’s illustrious reality rap scene. With the DJ Honda produced track, ‘Ambassador Slang’ track heavily providing for multiple international musicians – Tasha (Yoonmirae), Tiger JK, Roscoe Umali, Dumbfoundead, Tablo and Mithra of Epik High, BIGRYZN, MOSHPIT, Tassho Pearce, Jay Jaballas and New Zealand’s King Kapisi, – Taylor explains how he managed to pool together so many cultures for the record.
“I worked with producers and vocalists from different parts of the world, and through languages and cultures, allowed my worldview to shine through. When I travel and tour, I am respected as an ambassador and treated as such. I just feel that the hospitality should work both ways, so I reached out to a few people that I felt could use the light in the US and world markets. My mother is from Seoul, South Korea and I grew up for part of my life in Hawaii, so the Asian-Pacific Island hip hop scene is very important to me. There will be many more international collaborations coming soon under the “Ambassador Slang” banner – Europe, Asia, Africa, Oceania, South and Central America, Caribbean… Stay tuned.”