The Dilated Peoples have always been very true to Hip Hop's origins. The Los Angeles trio boasts artists within Hip Hop's four elements, as well as members of both The Rocksteady Crew and The Universal Zulu Nation - two legendary organizations closely associated with Hip Hop's foundation. Speaking recently with HipHopDX, Rakaa Iriscience spoke about his getting down with both organizations.
"Originally, I was put in The Rocksteady Crew [when] Crazy Legs came to L.A. and wanted to create an 'L.A. Bomb Squad' of Rocksteady members - a small, elite group of members that did various things. I was one of the people that he invited into the fold," said Rakaa. "From that, we actually decided to expand that to an L.A. [chapter of The] Rocksteady Crew. Quickly, that [expanded to include San Diego and San Francisco] as an West Coast Rocksteady Crew chapter. That was me, [Evidence], [DJ] Q-Bert, Mixmaster Mike and [DJ] Apollo [of Invisibl Skrath Piklz] - it was a big movement. Plus, there were plenty, plenty, plenty of dancers, up and down [the coast]."
As the Bronx-born organization expanded, the direction shifted. "What ended up happening, a little bit later, was Legs decided he just wanted it to be one [unified] Rocksteady Crew," Rakaa continued. "And from the beginning, he let us know that at that time, if you joined Rocksteady Crew, you are automatically a member of the [Universal] Zulu Nation. At that time, Rocksteady Crew was technically a chapter of Zulu Nation."
The emcee stressed that Univeral Zulu Nation responsibilities were still required. "You still had to go learn your affinity lessons and do your thing, but at that time, if you were invited into Rocksteady Crew, then you were basically being invited into Zulu. I don't know if that might be the case now, but at the time, for me, me it. I embraced [it]."
Like many Hip Hop listeners of the 1980s and early 1990s, Rakaa became acquainted with both organizations by way of lyrics and liner notes. "I was just a Rap fan. So to hear [A Tribe Called Quest] or to hear anybody else talk about Zulu Nation on record made it fly. We did all this stuff, and I [agreed] that I wanted 'Peace, unity, love and having fun,' too. To party and have family all over the world - to be invited into that [was amazing]." Artists including KRS-One, Ice-T, Diamond D and others have made their affiliation to the awareness group public. Rakaa added, "I'm full Rocksteady, I've been Rocksteady for quite a while, but I also represent Zulu Nation all over the world. That's something that also connects me. Pretty much any country I go to on the planet, there's somebody from Zulu Nation there, at the show, the radio station, waiting to greet me as a brother or a king - depending on who I'm talking to."
Rakaa's solo debut, Crown of Thorns is in stores Tuesday July 20.
For more information on the Universal Zulu Nation, visit ZuluNation.com.
For more information on the Rock Steady Crew, visit RocksteadyCrew.com.