Rakaa Iriscience, one third of world-renowned hip-hop crew Dilated Peoples is releasing Crown of Thorns, his debut solo album after four albums with his group and numerous guest spots, on July 20, 2010 via Decon Records. 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, Crown of Thorns is 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.
The record features a stripped down aesthetic that carries through the duration of the debut, a refreshing minimalism that manifests itself as a unique soundscape. Rakaa’s newfound unlimited lyrical license allows him 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,” says the emcee. “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 entitled “Ambassador Slang”. The song 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, ‘Fuck that we need more Premo!'”, while Aloe Blacc’s soulful singing carries the hook.
Rakaa’s music 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. Rakaa stays 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 proves that Rakaa can stand alone in the spotlight and deliver his fans the music they’ve been waiting for.