To know a group from day one is a great feeling. It’s the feeling I have about Dilated Peoples. I was there when “Work the Angles” dropped, when Babu sliced the cuts so thin you could almost see through them. I was there this last year when Capitol completely fouled up “20/20″ and as Evidence says “it’s a celebration” since they have finally fulfilled their contract obligation. Now it’s time for Evidence to step out of the shadow of Dilated Peoples and carve his own niche in hip-hop history. His debut solo LP “The Weatherman” drops on March 20th on ABB Records. If you are looking for a Dilated album you will be pleasantly surprised. From the subject matter the beat selection this is truly a record all about the emcee called Evidence. I got a chance to speak with Evidence about the Capitol situation and the new album. From the sound of things, this maybe one of the best records of 2007 and it’s only March.
HHS: What up man, it’s a real pleasure to be doing this interview.
Evidence: Everything is great today man, how’s everything with you?
Honestly, I’m really looking forward “The Weatherman” LP coming out?
Thank you homie, it’s been a long time coming. I’m really excited about it. I hope people can feel me when they see me live or when they check out the videos. Dilated Peoples is not breaking up and it was always our intention on doing solo records. It just so happens when we signed to Capitol in 2000 there was a lot of red tape that didn’t allow us to put them out as fast as we had hoped. Being the our contract was fulfilled in 2006 I got right in the studio and made this happen as soon as possible, but made it as focused as possible as well. The result is “The Weatherman” LP dropping March 20th, help spread the word.
Damn, I was going to ask if Dilated was still together and if you are still and Capitol and you summed it up right there (laughs)
You have been in the game almost 10 years and the red tape of labels is what has prevented us from tasting an Evidence solo album?
If you look at the inside of “Expansion Team” it says look out for our solo LPs coming soon. I thought we were going to drop “Platform” then “Expansion Team” and we applied to those records and they were like yeah you can do your solo but we are going to sign you to a 5 or 6 album deal. I had seen how it was going over there and I was like no I can’t do that, I’ll just wait my contract out. I didn’t want to tie my whole career up as a solo artist with the same label that was putting out my group; it would be a conflict of interest. Good things come to those who wait and I have been waiting patiently and I really feel like that anticipation is really coming through on the album.
So officially Dilated Peoples is off Capitol?
Correct, correct….it’s a celebration bitches (laughs)
They really messed up “20/20″ pretty bad.
Yeah, it was a really great album. It was our least selling record to date and it was one of our best and I think what happened they realized that we weren’t going to be theirs after that project and why invest a bunch of money into something that won’t be yours anymore. Since there won’t be any future in it. It was highly under promoted and it’s a great record nonetheless.
It really is a stellar album, I’ve been a fan since ’97 and it’s sad to see something so good not get the credit it deserves. That’s a major reason why I’m looking forward to solo records, where you don’t worry about the major labels fouling it up.
This is a much more personal record. Being in a group with 2 other peoples you have to find mutual topics to touch on, especially how we are so different within the group. Sometimes that thing that suffers as a result is establishing an identity and finding out who we are as individuals. I really feel like that’s why “The Weatheman LP” is going to be a great thing. I’m really letting you in to who I am and because of that you really find out who Evidence is. When you do an interview with Dilated Peoples it’s like “what’s the current state of hip-hop?” But when you do an interview with me, it’s like “what’s the nationality is your mother.” It’s the more personal stuff; it’s just that one person as opposed to all three. Rakka has his album called “Crown of Thorns” and Babu is doing “Duck Season 3″, both are ridiculous. We are helping each other out and we are putting out a DVD later this year and still doing shows. The DVD is called the “Release Party” celebrating our release from Capitol. It’s coming out on Decon Media this summer. There are a lot of things are happening but we are still showing unity within the group, but it’s time to branch out. When we come back as Dilated in 2008 it will be that much stronger.
“Mr Slow Flow” is the single and is a tad bit different than the majority of Dilated, what made you decide to go with a more down tempo style track as your first single?
In certain ways it is a Dilated record and in other ways it isn’t. Like 3 verses with scratching for the chorus is DJ Revolution as opposed to Babu and Joey Chavez on the beat. It has a different edge to it; it’s a lot of edgier. But, that is me. I’m the dark side of the group and I’m the dude doing that night time music type of vibe. Now that I can go full force with it, it establishes who I am and what my sound is. When you balance it out with Rakka and you balance it out with Babu you get Dilated, but this is Evidence all the way to the right. There are records on the album I made it more in the Dilated fashion, but being on Capitol they expected us to crank out hits. Whether we gave in or not, it’s not to be able to put the album on an independent like ABB and put out a single that is that nighttime music. I’m going to put out a single that is completely opposite of what a radio single is and make a video that illustrates that. I’m having fun with what I’m doing and I think that people can hear that energy and they want to be a part of it.
There are a lot of producers out there reading and you are a producer as well as an emcee, what do you mostly use to make your tracks?
I use a lot of different equipment. I started out with the ASR-10 and that was my first piece of equipment. That’s what I watched Joey Chavez and Alchemist making beats on. I can use that machine blind, I can start in the day and it will turn to night and I won’t turn on the light, my fingers just keep moving. Later I got into the MPCs and I got Pro Tools plus have a lot of outboard gear. I like to use different stuff, it makes me balanced, I have the keyboards but basically it’s the ASR-10.
What do you prefer, being and emcee or producer and why?
Different gratifications for both. When you are sitting at a million dollar console and watching Linkin Park or Kanye West rap over one of your beats is a feeling that no one can really parallel, you feel like a million dollars. But, also rapping and being at a sold out show at the House of Blues and everybody jumping up and down in unison is something you can’t describe either.
So you don’t like one better than the other at all?
I don’t know man, it’s just very different. Being a lyricist is very gratifying because that is something that comes out of your body. Your body makes this noise and it’s physical. Touching music is different; it doesn’t just shoot out of my fingers I have to touch the keyboard. If we lost all the power in the world tomorrow, I couldn’t use and an ASR-10 but I could always still rap. Rapping is something is something that comes out of you, so there will probably always be a little more gratification out of that.
You have always integrated the DJ in the group, at the shows, and on the albums. How important is the DJ to hip-hop in 2007?
I think it is as important as you make it. I know a lot of records that don’t give any homage to the DJ and I love the records just the same. You have to understand where the whole hip-hop culture came from and if you incorporate the DJ and make work, it’s just that much more powerful. Fortunately for us, we have always had Babu who is one of the best to ever do it. I have Revolution all over my album and when Rev is unavailable Mr Choc form the World Famous Beat Junkies fills in. I am blessed to be around a lot of great DJs, I would be fool not to put that to use. But if someone doesn’t have it, don’t just incorporate it for pete’s sake. That’s a disservice as well. I don’t want the misconception that you aren’t hip-hop if you don’t have a DJ, because that’s not the truth. If you have outlets and you want to take the time to do it, it’s just that much more powerful.
Let’s talk about “The Weatherman”, are there any guests?
I did a lot of the album myself. The majority of the album is all me, I held it down on ten plus songs by myself. I really have a lot to talk about. I lost my mother 2 years ago and that’s not something that I would want to put out on a Dilated record, it wouldn’t be appropriate. Certain travel experience and all the ups and downs over the last couple of years. Friends switching on me and certain things that I wouldn’t want to put on Dilated records, so I saved them for “The Weatherman”. Even if I have a singer on the chorus or a guest DJ, it’s still really based on me. What I did do is showcased a hand full of guest of who I’m really feeling at the moment in the game. I have Little Brother on the album, Defari, Planet Asia, Alchemist is rapping on the album.
Yeah I heard “Hot and Cold” was like Alchemist back on the mic, it’s always crazy to hear that.
He’s crazy and he’s really a good rapper and I want people to know that. I also have Slug from Atmosphere and that’s really going to turn a lot of heads. It’s going to turn the underworld upside down. I have Sick Jaken from Psycho Realm and Chase Infinite from Self Scientific on a track and my one of my favorite singers Res blessed me on a joint called “Believe In Me”. We also have Noell who has always worked with us through out the years of Dilated and I can’t forget Joe Scudda out of North Carolina. It was picked and chose real carefully. I really wanted to focus on the rhymes but I did 4 beats which I love. I have Alchemist doing the majority of the album, he did six. Babu did two, Jake One out of Seattle did one, and DJ Khalil from Self Scientific did one. Of course Joey Chavez did the single, “Believe In Me” and a joint called “Perfect Storm”. I’m leaving out the most important guest on the album which is Rakka Iriscience
(Laughs) Of course Dilated Peoples is represented on my album. I also forgot Madchild from Swollen Members is on a track.
You have been on a major for quite sometime now, but have always stayed true to ABB, why the loyalty?
They believe in me, they believe in what I do. I don’t have to get approval, when I say this is it, this is it. Ben and I are more like partners than I am signed to ABB. I helped create ABB with Defari and Beni B who really started it. I was there since the first release, I produced the first, second and third releases to ever come out on ABB, so I really feel like I helped build that label and what a better way to keep the legacy going. Malachi is up there, Diane, we have a good team of people who believe in me and believe in what I do. Financially I have done well with Dilated and touring so I don’t need a huge budget to go sign with somebody else. It’s not really about the money, it’s more about finding people who are feeling what I’m doing and aren’t going to hassle me when I say this is what I want to have as my single. That means more to me at the end of the day. We also have Imperial Records behind it which is the parent company of Caroline Distribution and they are helping us pick up places that we might normally have. There is a chance with them we might get some TV or radio, so it’s a good look.
Do you feel the hip-hop is making its way back around after a dismal showing in 2006?
I was a skateboarder and I was skateboarding before it got real popular, I’m from Venice, California. I have been skating since the beginning. Skating is something that we all did and it got real popular and then everybody did it. Eventually it faded out and all the trendy people went away and we still did what we did. It’s the same thing with Hip-Hop; I don’t care if it’s popular this year or not, because I do this. I like to know who is jumping on the bandwagon and when they leave next year, that’s just more fun for me. I like it better when not everyone knows what is going on, I’m from that mentality. There is always going to be real hip-hop culture it just so happens the media might focus on certain elements and call it this or that, but that doesn’t mean it doesn’t exist. I’m just trying to bring my brand to the people and let them know I’m doing my part. There are people that have power and aren’t doing anything about it; at the end of the day at least I can say I’m doing something about it.
You have solid albums, you’ve toured the world, you’ve been on a major and independent. At this point would you ever sign to a major again?
I don’t really know. I’m happy with what I’m doing right now. If the situation was right and I had control of the situation, sure. I would more like to partner up rather than be an artist signed to. I’ve learned too much for me to settle with the okie doke. A lot of people that are doing that are basing on a financial thing, they want to buy this or buy that, I’m doing ok. I feel as long as I am financially straight; because it is a business doesn’t get it twisted, it is a business. I don’t have the need to go beg to somebody so they can screw me later. I can mold and shape my career they way I want to right now. I would like to start my own label real soon and start my own management company here in 5 or 6 years when I am truly done grinding and focusing on the business side. I would like to give somebody else the opportunity to shine. That’s a little ways around.
So to wrap it up, we are going to see a new Dilated album in 2008 and Rakka’s got “Crown of Thorns” coming real soon, and of course “Duck Season Pt 3″. Anything else to speak of?
I’m going to give Rakka whatever he needs, if he wants me or if he doesn’t want me. If he doesn’t it’s nothing personal, he’s set in his identity. If you want my guess I would say you will see more of a Wyclef “Carnival” type album. He’s probably hit reggae, maybe some rock stuff, he might make more of an international album as opposed to just an American album. He’s probably going to make an album much more than just a rap album. As far as me, Alchemist and I are doing an album tentatively titled “The Closers” that will drop in 2008 on ALC Records, which is his label. In the meantime, Alchemist is touring with me right now and we have a whole east coast tour lined up. I’m doing a lot of spot dates and doing all the conventions. I’m headlining “Unity” with La Coka Nostra and Chino XL and then I’m doing “Paid Dues” with Murs and Slug in LA. Most importantly my album drops March 20th, it’s independent and word of mouth is very important. Check out www.myspace.com/evidence and check all the tour dates, updates and check into world and what’s going on. My website www.therealevidence.com is being built right now a lot of new things. Trying to build this new brand the “EV” brand. We have the new video “Mr Slow Flow” where I run around like Spit from Beat Street dissing the whole industry, because that’s how I feel right now.
You pretty much said it all, anything else you want to get off your chest.
I want to thank you for being early, hopefully next year its going to be busy and the rest of the world is going to catch on. I appreciate the people that are getting aboard early and supporting the new movement. It’s not easy to start a new brand; I’m not trying to ride off the Dilated Peoples fame as a crutch. I am Dilated for life and that’s what I do but I just want people to know that I’m trying to build something new. All movements begin underground and that’s really where I’m taking it. If that means I’m doing 100 people shows instead of 1000 right now, so be it. I’m really trying build from the ground up.
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