Music review: Dilated Peoples at the O2 Academy Islington

Californian trio the Dilated Peoples provided a hip-hop masterclass at the O2 Academy Islington

Slick beats, tight scratching and conscious, well-controlled lyrics - this Dilated Peoples performance at the 02 Academy Islington was a masterclass in how hip-hop should be done.

DJ Babu and rappers Evidence and Rakaa Iriscience have long been heroes among aficionados of the genre, but this gig showed their appeal has stretched far and wide from their native California.

After enjoyable warm-up sets from female beatbox/rap contingent The Boxettes and DJ Spin Doctor, the healthy crowd was buzzing with anticipation.

The lights dimmed and Babu came on stage, setting the scene with an immaculate intro, full of scratching and retro computer game noises.

Then the two wordsmiths bounded into view, tearing into a tireless set of the best known songs mainly from albums The Platform and Expansion Team.

Dilated Peoples haven’t enjoyed huge commercial success on this side of the Atlantic, but the audience knew all the material and sang along constantly.

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Halfway through the show, Babu showed why he is revered by DJs all over the globe with an astonishing display of beat juggling.

Then it was back to the MCs and the performance built to a fantastic climax, with This Way and Worst Comes to Worst, the groups biggest hits, coming in quick succession.

Everything about the set was quality, right down to the way they left the original sample for Worst Come to Worst (William Bell’s “I Forgot to be Your Lover”, for those who need to know) playing as they left the stage for the first time.

In an era where hip-hop has lost so much of its identity and what made it great in the first place, Dilated Peoples proved how much it still has to offer.

* Dilated Peoples performed at the 02 Academy Islington, in Parkfield Street, N1, on Monday February 27, 2012.