|Next Project:||The Weatherman|
|Twitter:||Evidence on Twitter|
Evidence has been a foundation of hip-hop for years as a member of Dilated Peoples, and now he’s taking it solo. His album The Weatherman LP is set to drop March 20th, and fans who give it a listen will find an MC and producer who’s not afraid to speak about the struggles of real life while still knocking out some true bangers. His first single “Mr. Slow Flow” is a defiant middle finger to record execs who tried to mold his sound into something more marketable. In an interview with DJBooth’s Nathan, Evidence talks about establishing himself as an individual, his mother’s recent death, and the reported death of hip-hop.
Listen to the Evidence Interview
Evidence Interview Transcription
DJ Booth: This is Nathan from DJBooth.net, and on the phone with me I’ve got Evidence of Dilated Peoples fame. Evidence has a solo album set to drop on March 20th called The Weatherman LP. Thanks for joining us, how you doing?
Evidence: Much love, thanks for having me.
DJ Booth: The pleasure’s on this side, believe me. The album’s droppin real soon, I’m sure things are hectic for you, how are you preparing for the release?
Evidence: Stayin active man, no waiting [around] these days right now, no sittin on the couch. Everyday it’s a show, if it’s not a show it’s some form of networking, be it an interview or going to a show where there’s people, doin radio, anything I can do right now just trying to be seen. There’s not a lot of money frontloading my project so I can’t afford not to be real self-sufficient right now.
DJ Booth: Absolutely, I know a lot of fans will recognize you as Evidence of Dilated Peoples, what are you doing to have them see you as Evidence the solo artist?
Evidence: That’s a great question. To be honest man that’s my goal. First and foremost no disrespect to my group Dilated Peoples, that’s my heart, my love, I’m Dilated till death, but the point of doing this solo record is really to establish my identity, who I am as an individual… not just that guy of that group. It’s very difficult to strip yourself down from what you’ve built up and start from scratch, it’s a very hard long road, but it’s something I’m very adamant about doing because I believe in my project and my method. This year, to really let people into my album I’m speaking on topics that let you know who I am as a person where I come from, what my day to day is, just speaking on certain topics that are very personal letting my guard down, being more vulnerable as an artist. I think people are going to get to know me more and one year from now, I’ll be Evidence, not just Evidence of Dilated Peoples. That’s my ultimate goal. Like when you say Ghostface Killa you don’t say Ghostface of Wu-Tang Clan anymore, even though he is Ghost of Wu-Tang Clan, you know what I mean? He did enough networking, and enough shit, and enough establishing himself as a solo artist that people accepted him for that, whereas some other people from some other groups might not have done the legwork so they might still have to rely on the groups that their from to get them over. I’m really trying to establish who I am, I’m always Dilated Peoples for life, but as a solo artist it would be really dope to be like Ghost.
DJ Booth: I think a lot of Wu-Tang managed to differentiate themselves, so that’s your ultimate goal, to end up in the Method Man and the Ghostface position?
Evidence: Exactly, no disrespect to people who might have not, but I definitely want to be of that caliber.
DJ Booth: So how’s your songwriting process different for this album as opposed to working on Dilated Peoples stuff?
Evidence: A lot of it was different; a lot of it was very much the same. The first part is there’s not a judge and jury on things I want to do, if I have an idea I can run with it. Me, Babu and Rakaa just finding a topic, a common denominator for all of us to speak on, it takes a minute to figure that out. Sometimes struggling to find that concept is what makes it great, the fact that we don’t just settle for anything, we really take our time. But with this album right here I just had a lot of things I wanted to say, I knew I needed to say, and I didn’t have to get an opinion on if it would be a good topic for the group to get on. The whole underlying theme of the album is celebrating my mother’s life, rest in peace. I lost my mother two years ago and I’ve been going through a lot of things. This album for me was therapy, celebrating her life. I went through a depression state, but eventually it turned into making her life a celebration. So a lot of songs are speaking on that, and I wouldn’t want to do that on a Dilated Peoples record. It wouldn’t be fare to Rakaa and Babu, even though they’ve been tremendous supporting me throughout this whole thing, certain things are personal and don’t fit within the group’s realm, and that’s one of them. It’s somewhat similar to how Rakaa is very political, and sometimes he wants to go out all with certain issues, but I might not feel the same way, or even have knowledge, so he holds back on his end. So I think the solo record’s gonna be good because we’re all doing them this year, we’re gonna be individuals so when we come back as Dilated next year it’s not “there’s the guy with the afro, there’s the one that jumps into the crowd”, you know what I mean. They’ll know who we are now. It a different writing process, but very much the same, I didn’t change my style, I’m not a whole new guy, the album just took me out of my comfort zone and being out of your comfort zone sometimes brings the best out in you. You’re not just settling, you’re not just stuck in your ways, you’re really striving for something better, and I think that’s how this album turned out.
DJ Booth: On that note, getting into some specific tracks on the album “I Still Love You” and “Chase the Clouds Away” are both about your mother’s passing. Speak a little more on how that affected you not only as a person, but as an artist…
Evidence: I’m an only child, and she was the most important thing in the world. There’s been a lot of ups and downs. When she passed I was trying to find a lot of ways to deal with it. Time has been the biggest healer out of everything, but I spoke with some people who deal with this type of thing, psychiatrist type people, and that didn’t really help. I smoked forty times more weed than I already do, that didn’t really help, so I quit smoking weed. I couldn’t find a way to deal with it. Ironically the way I ended up coming to terms was actually making music about it. “I Still Love You” is the most personal song on the record; the most personal I’ve ever been in my career as a songwriter, letting people in to what I’m doing. It took a lot of guts to write. After I did it I felt, not closure, there will never be closure, but the next closest thing. I’m actually dealing with my problems, and a lot of people I’ve been finding in the world have been going through similar things they can relate to. “Chase the Clouds Away” that’s a song about being happy. I just woke up one morning after all this shit was going down, and I just felt all right. That it’s ok to feel good sometimes, you don’t have to be angry, and you don’t fucking have to be mad at everything. Not on no soft shit, it’s not a soft record by any means, it shows that you can you can don’t have to be hard all the time. It’s something that’s difficult to do. I think I captured it pretty well.
DJ Booth: I think that’s the difference between real art as opposed to mass-produced art, it touches people on a personal level. It’s good to hear that you’re touching on that as well.
Evidence: Exactly, thanks.
DJ Booth: On the track “Mr. Slow Flow” you’ve said it’s a response to Capitol Records trying to make you sound more pop, do you feel pressure from labels and radio to change your sound or influence your sound?
Evidence: That record right there was me saying look, I want to come out like this. Being on a label sometimes they say you can do whatever you want to do, but you gotta have a record to sell the public. So this is like “Don’t touch the pot you might get burned” and I’m touching it. You know what I mean? I just had to touch that shit; I don’t give a fuck what anyone says. Ironically people are feeling it because of that; it’s not something anyone else is doing right now. No one’s making a nighttime record, a record that’s not really geared toward radio play that’s actually getting on the radio. We’re getting love on the radio. That’s a middle finger up to the recording industry kind of record. No chorus, three verses, slow beat. It’s against everything you’re supposed to do to have success. I’m proud to be that guy whose doin’ it.
DJ Booth: I think the game kind of needs that right now.
DJ Booth: Now the track “Born in LA” is about you growing up on the West coast, growing up in LA, if someone didn’t know you were from Los Angeles how would they be able to tell just by listening to your music?
Evidence: It’s been a common misconception about Dilated Peoples ever since we started. A lot of people couldn’t believe we were from the West, a lot of people thought we were East Coast, or somewhere close to the East. You could tell by things I’m talking about, the cities I’m naming, and the slang I use. I don’t fall into the East coast diction of “yo son” or this and that. I don’t really say the words that everyone else says. The funny part about it is my families from Brooklyn, Coney Island to be exact, and my parents had New York accents. So it’s only right that I sound more like that than a typical West Coast artist, but the West is my biggest influence, that’s what I grew up around. It would be difficult to tell, but the fact that I rep it all day, the fact that my artwork reflects it, my interviews reflect it.
DJ Booth: Do you think having roots on both coasts help you connect with more people?
Evidence: I think it’s definitely made me more of a versatile MC, more balanced. I don’t have the traditional West coast sound, like you said I have kind of an East coast sound but there are certain things I do that go against the grain. It’s definitely made me more balanced as an artist.
DJ Booth: You’ve got a whole mob of people on this album, everyone from Slug to Alchemist, what were some of your favorite collaborations?
Evidence: Doin “Born in LA” was really dope. A lot of the collaborations I did, some of them were over the mail, some of them were over the Internet or what have you. Working with Res, I really love Res as an artist, she’s able to come in and lay something down that’s powerful. “Hot and Cold” with Alchemist, that’s just another day in the life working. “NC to CA” with Defari, Big Pooh, Joe Scudda. We just had an off day and made a banger. A lot of it just happens. We had fun making this record, even if the songs aren’t party oriented. There’s a lot of good energy, it’s not like I’m locked in a room forced to make music. The joint with Slug is real crazy because I’ve wanted to work with him for a minute. He set the tone for the rhyme style, and then I rhymed his pattern. Even though I go first, he laid his verse before me. I fit my style around him, so I wasn’t doing my normal style.
DJ Booth: Well Slug’s the man to go to if you want something crazy…
Evidence: Sure, he hit me like “I don’t know if you’re gonna like this, I did this crazy style,” but no, I need that on my record.
DJ Booth: Are there any new artists, people catching your ear, which you’d like to work with in the future?
Evidence: I got all of them on my album. Planet Asia. Sick Jacken, when I’m in Los Angeles and where I’m from he’s really killin it right now, I’m really proud of him. The rest of the world may not have caught on yet, but in LA he’s super heavy. Sick Jacken, my boy in LA, he’s real real ill with it.
DJ Booth: To broaden things up a bit I’ve read interviews where you’ve said you want to be a leader, you want to take on the responsibility of being a leader. What changes are you trying to make in hip-hop, where are trying to leading people to?
Evidence: I’m just trying to show that you can still be you and fit into this market that’s saturated with a lot of bullshit. I’m not hating on anybody, if you’re out there getting yours all the power to you. I’m just showing that there’s an alternative, and I don’t like the word “alternative,” it makes it seem like I’m not doing something that’s true to the game, when in actuality I’m the one stayin true. But the game being the way it is, I’m presenting an alternative method, letting people know that if you put in good work, if the work ethic is extreme, there will be a lane for you. People want someone who understands that they don’t have to be followers, they can be leaders. When you come to my show and you see me rapping with you not at you, you see me connecting to you directly, you see me responding to you on MySpace, not having that superstar rock attitude that a lot of these people have, like that can’t be touched and fans are on a different level than them. They see that I’m doing the exact opposite of that, and seeing that gives people hope. That’s exactly what I’m trying to do.
DJ Booth: I think that’s necessary, there’s been a lot of talk lately about hip-hop being “dead,” Nas’s new album for example, do you think hip-hop is dead?
Evidence: No, not in any way shape or form. Wait, let me rephrase that…in certain shapes or forms… maybe. Look, the bottom line is Nas is one of the best to ever do it, if you asked me my five top MCs, he’s on that list, he can say whatever the fuck he wants to say. I just don’t think everyone should take that and just agree with it. If that’s how he’s feelin, let the man feel the way he feels, and I can’t do anything but respect that, but it doesn’t mean that I feel that way, or you should too. Form your own opinions; don’t just listen to what someone’s saying and deem it as truth. Hip-hop is a culture; hip-hop is not just rap music. Go to the Grammy’s, go to some award show, and they’ll have Best Rap Artist and Best Hip-hop Artist. What the fuck is the difference? Rap is apart of hip-hop culture. People are really twisting it around, the media’s portraying it as something it’s not. Graffiti is alive and kicking, b-boying is alive and kicking, MC-ing is alive and kicking, DJ-ing is alive and kicking. These people are doing their shit. Is the media shining their fucking headlights on it? Maybe not, but that doesn’t mean its dead, you just gotta seek it out a little more than ever.
DJ Booth: Just talking to you right now… I can hear that hip-hop’s alive.
Evidence: That’s what I’m saying!
DJ Booth: Thanks for taking the time to speak with us today, is there a place people can go to get more info about you and your album?
Evidence: Yeah, myspace.com/evidence. Come check me out, check out the tour dates, a lot of things are happening on this page. I’m building the realevidence.com right now, it’s under construction, and it should be up about a month from now. I’m gonna make a really dope website for people to interact with. Check out the Alchemist, myspace.com/alchemist, that’s my dog, the executive producer on my album and one of the best to ever do it on the beat. Him and I are touring all year long, there’s a lot of good things in store, a lot is happening.
DJ Booth: Well DJBooth is definitely behind your album, and I hope the rest of the nation gets behind it as well.
Evidence: Good looking out, word of mouth is extremely important.
DJ Booth: Thanks so much, and good luck. Peace.