Dilated Peoples’ Rakaa Iriscience Readies Debut Album ‘Crown of Thorns’

By Ronnie Gamble  |  05/05/2010

Rakaa IriscienceRakaa Iriscience, one third of world-renowned hip-hop crew Dilated Peoples, is set to release his debut solo album in July. It's titled Crown of Thorns.

The album follows four albums with his group and numerous guest spots, and is dropping via Decon Records.

It will be produced by fellow members Evidence and DJ Babu with guest production by The Alchemist, El-P, !llmind, Exile, Sid Roams, King Jahzzy, and Eric Bobo & DJ Rhettmatic.

His camp describes Crown of Thorns as "the sonic prism that has absorbed the myriad cultures taken in by the travelling emcee and reflected them back in the form of a groundbreaking debut."

With his first solo effort, Rakaa is free to fully expand on his heavily conscious ideas about socio-political issues, relationships, family and culture. It's not an overstatement to say that Rakaa's whole life has, consciously or not, gone into the production of this album.

"This record is my opportunity to give context so people understand more what I'm trying to do," said the MC. "It's the first time I'm really making a conscious decision to sit down and let somebody come into my house, and after all of this time, I'm welcoming all guests."

Some of those guests include, Defari, Chali 2na, Fashawn, Aloe Blacc, and the legendary KRS-One.

Rakaa builds bridges with the international scene on the DJ Honda-produced track "Ambassador Slang". It features some of the top Asian-Pacific Islander artists in the world, including Roscoe Umali and Korean lyrical heavyweights Tasha (aka Yoon Mi Rae), Tiger JK (Drunken Tiger), and Tablo and Mithra Jin (both of Epik High). On the title track, "Crown Of Thorns", Rakaa traces his musical history and looks toward hip-hop's future, commenting: "Ev told me I could be more Emo / Then I just laughed and said, 'F*** that we need more Premo!'", while Aloe Blacc's soulful singing carries the hook.

Rakaa's career started soon after joining the New York based hip-hop collective Rock Steady Crew as a graffiti artist and MC. He helped found their L.A. chapter and subsequently joined the Universal Zulu Nation. After a series of educational label experiences, Rakaa and partner-in-rhyme Evidence released 1997's underground classic single "Third Degree", before adding Babu to the ranks. Since then, the team known as Dilated Peoples have put out a series of critically acclaimed albums and developed an international reputation for live performances.

Since then, Rakaa has been staying busy traveling around the world hosting events such as the Red Bull BC One (in Johannesburg and Paris) and the R16 (in Incheon, Korea), destroying a variety of studio booths, "chipping away at [his] black belt" in Gracie Jiu-Jitsu, and attending school as a full-time advertising student.

Crown of Thorns is due in toes July 20.