DILATED PEOPLES, "20/20"

Dilated Peoples may never make the full-on break into the mainstream they're clearly shooting for with this fourth CD, but like frequent collaborator Talib Kweli, they seem to be comfortable settling

Dilated Peoples may never make the full-on break into the mainstream they're clearly shooting for with this fourth CD, but like frequent collaborator Talib Kweli, they seem to be comfortable settling for medium-sized sales and considerable acclaim from critics and fellow anti-bling lyricists ("Don't worry if I write checks, I write rhymes," Evidence rhymes early on, drawing the final line in the sand between them and the above-ground).

For better or worse, "20/20" doesn't make too many editing marks on the blueprint laid out on 2004's "Neighborhood Watch" or even 2001's "Expansion Team." In fact, there's hardly any expansion here at all. "20/20" sticks to battle-tested raps that lightly touch on social issues with hard beats and a sense of bounce big enough to remain accessible to that larger audience. That's about as basic as hip-hop gets, effective as it often is ("Kindness for Weakness," "Alarm Clock Music"). Still, "20/20" is crying out for a banging single like "This Way" and for the first time in the band's career, dips into self-parody at its worst (apparently, they like marijuana). -- Jeff Vrabel