A lesson for the rap-impaired 

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"I’m just a life observer. I’ll walk around the streets. Regardless of how much money I have or don’t have, every once in a while I just get on the bus. I’ll ride a bus to the end of the line, look outside the windows at what’s going on. I also read a lot. I travel a lot. And I try to connect with people a lot."

Rakaa says inspiration for his style came from listening to such legends as Hendrix and Marley. And although he neither plays guitar nor considers himself Rastafarian, he can appreciate their musical talents and finds ways to apply their arrangements or chords into his own work.

"I just try to open myself up and allow myself to be sparked."

Now we were treading into territory I could relate to. Dilated Peoples may not be in my CD player as I drive home today, but conversations such as this are why I adore my job. Opening yourself up to others’ thoughts, ideas and emotions is incredibly stimulating. Catching a glimpse of someone’s passions is inspiring.

"You might not necessarily like what I do, but we’re connected," says Rakaa. "I don’t think that creativity or energy has an age limit or racial distinctions. Some things are better nurtured and fostered in certain environments, but now different elements of the hip hop culture are all over the planet. I travel overseas to areas of Europe where the whitest of white people happen to be and those are some of the illest hip hop kids. There are 40 year olds there who have been doing it for 10, 15 years since they first heard Run DMC and they were the only ones doing it in their country. So that just proves to me that there are bridges being built all over the world. It’s up to us whether or not we want to use them."

The trio is in the process of putting together a new CD, entitled Expansion Team . And like their present release, The Platform , the title holds some significance. The Platform reflects the group’s eclectic nature, sense of balance and desire to make the people listen. Rakaa explains that much like sports, when you’re new to the scene and get invited in, you are the expansion team. This CD should establish Dilated Peoples as more than just the new kids on the field. In fact they’re a growing force to be listened to.

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