The title of Dilated Peoples' sophomore Capitol album, "Expansion Team" (due out Oct. 23), plays on the Los Angeles-based trio's musical philosophy. "We've gone from performing in a tiny L.A. club to

The title of Dilated Peoples' sophomore Capitol album, "Expansion Team" (due out Oct. 23), plays on the Los Angeles-based trio's musical philosophy.

"We've gone from performing in a tiny L.A. club to traveling all over the world," says Rakaa Taylor, aka Iriscience. "It's about expanding and stretching the whole game-coming in and forcing it to make room for what we do. We're making major-label music. As far as skills and production quality go, our record could hang with any pop record out there."

Rounding out the trio are MC Evidence (aka Michael Perretta) and DJ Babu (aka Chris Oroc). Initially signed to Immortal/Epic in 1994, the trio switched to Capitol and released its 2000 debut, "The Platform." To date, the project has sold 159,000 units, according to SoundScan.

Oakland, Calif.-based ABB Records continues to handle Dilated Peoples' vinyl releases, including the Alchemist-produced single "Worst Comes to Worst," which dropped Sept. 11. Jason Goldwach directed the video, serviced nationally Oct. 1.

"Too often when underground groups make the transition from the minor leagues, [people] get lost in the process," ABB owner Beni B. says. "But Dilated Peoples remains true to its roots and fans. Production-wise, you've got such people as DJ Premier, Evidence, Joey Chavez, Juju, Babu, and Alchemist. And lyrically, Rakaa and Evidence share more of their personalities."

Among the standout tracks are the Babu-produced "Hard Hitters," featuring the Roots' Black Thought; "Trade Money," produced by Da Beatminerz; and the Evidence-produced "Heavy Rotation," a potential single on which Tha Liks and Dilated Peoples get buckwild.

An estimated 50,000 CDs with mixes by Babu and drops by album guests Tha Liks, DJ Premier ("Clockwork"), and Defari ("Defari Interlude") have been distributed since Sept. 15. Another 15,000 mixed CDs and other promotional items were shipped to Europe, where Dilated Peoples opened for alternative act Linkin Park Sept. 12-16, a tour that was cut short by the terrorist attacks in the U.S.

"Even before we had an album out, we were performing at music festivals and touring Europe," Rakaa says. "Our fan base is strong there." Dilated Peoples plans to hit the road in mid-October for a yearlong trek stateside and abroad.

An Alastair McKevitt-directed documentary/electronic press kit featuring live concert footage, interviews, and the trio's history will be streamed online at such Web sites as Okayplayer.com, the cyber home of Dilated Peoples, Common, and the site's founders, the Roots.