Ever since Evidence signed with Capitol Records in 2000 along with Rakaa Iriscience and DJ Babu as the fundamentalist trio Dilated Peoples, theyve all wanted to make solo records. Four albums later and one finished contract with Capitol Records, the rap artist that seems to make too many references to weather is coming out of the gate first with a solo record, aptly titled Weatherman LP. AllHipHop.com sat down with Evidence to discuss the new album, his approach from both a lyrical and production standpoint, as well as how Evidence feels about his improvement as an artist and whats in store for the future of Dilated Peoples.
AllHipHop.com: Youve got the new album, The Weatherman LP, out right now. What were your expectations with the new album?
Evidence: First and foremost, its long overdue. If you look inside our liner notes from Expansion Team album, our second Dilated Peoples record, which was 2001, it says Look out for our solo LPs coming soon. This has always been premeditated. Our contract [with Capitol Records] didnt let us do our solo records without tying ourselves up for another five records with them. Being that we fulfilled all our contractual obligations in 2006 at Capitol and doing four LPs as Dilated [Peoples], I got in [the studio] and banged [this album] out immediately. It was something I needed to do because there are a lot of things I might want to say that dont necessarily fit the Dilated [Peoples] mode or arent appropriate for a Dilated [Peoples] record. You also have to keep in mind that Rakaa and I are so different. People walk up to me sometimes and say, Dog, thank you for being so political. I cant take direct credit for that. Thats Rakaas angle. Or, certain people embrace the turntable aspect of our group. I cant take direct credit for that either; thats Babu. Even though I co-sign, and Im a part of it, its just different sides. I really wanted to put my identity out there and really let people into the Evidence life a little bit.
AllHipHop.com: Why was doing a solo albums always a part of Dilated Peoples vision?
Evidence: Because Rakaa and I, Rakaa being considerably older than I am, coming from a different side of town than I do, we hooked up to do this group out of mutual love. Were both graffiti artists from Los Angeles, we both hold the DJ in high regards, and were both of the minds that you can be a dope spitter, but you also have to be a dope songwriter. A lot of people around the time we both hooked up didnt care about these things. Rakaa is a very smart individual and I feed off of his wisdom. Im definitely the youth in the group. He might feed off that energy and between the two we form Dilated [Peoples]. But it was always our intentions to let people know who we are as individuals, somewhat similar to Wu-Tang Clan. As another example, you see Prodigy of Mobb Deep doing his thing, H.N.I.C. album. But its still Mobb Deep. Dilated [Peoples] is not breaking up. Were definitely co-signing each others movements. Rakaa has his solo album in the making right now, Crown of Thorns, which is going to be sick. My album is The Weatherman LP. And Babu is off doing Duck Season Volume 3 right now. Its just the year of the solo individual within the Dilated [Peoples] camp.
AllHipHop.com: Why did you decide to call it the Weatherman LP?
Evidence: Its a nickname my fans basically gave me back in the day. When I was first starting to rhyme, I was really painting some darker pictures and dark imagery with my lyrics. And I still do. But one thing I didnt realize I was doing was making a lot of references to weather in every one of my rhymes; rainstorms, sandstorms, hurricanes, blizzards. I said these words because it always captured the essence of how I was feeling. Im also an opinionated person, so whether Im feeling you just adds another duality to it.
AllHipHop.com: Compared to your Dilated Peoples albums, how did you approach your solo LP? Was it any different?
Evidence: It was very different because I didnt have to find a common denominator, or a common topic, for Rakaa and me to build on. Sometimes in a group, its difficult because I might want to talk about one thing, he might want to talk about another, and we have to end up settling in the middle somehow. When that happens, an identity sometimes gets lost. For example, when we do Dilated [Peoples] interviews, the reoccurring question is, So how did you hook up? or Whats the current state of Hip-Hop right now? and How do you feel about this? Whereas when I do my solo interviews, its What nationality are you? or How were you raised? Being with Dilated [Peoples] is like one big blanket of safety. If I feel like being the star of the group, that day Ill jump in front. If I want to fall back and jump in the shadows I can. The group allows you to play different rolls. But this is Evidence. I cant hide behind Evidence. I am what I am.
AllHipHop.com: How do you think fans are going to react to this album?
Evidence: Im always optimistic. I feel like there is going to be a direct connection. When you take that step forward, you show vulnerability and you dont hide behind something, people end up appreciating that more. They say, Okay, this is someone I can get behind. This is a leader. Hes not just a dude out there for an ulterior motive. Hes really standing for something right now. I know thats the kind of people Im attracted to. Im a fan of Hip-hHp as well. Those people really make me believe that if I go to their shows, or if I buy their record, Im part of something that they really believe in. I think when you perform, if youre not real and you insecurities, people can see that. People can say that the masses are asses, but I dont really believe that. I think people can smell a fake buzz a mile away. People can tell when someone isnt ready to take the reigns and be a leader of a movement. I really feel like I am right now. People are going to see me as a leader and not just as another member of a group.
AllHipHop.com: How does being a former graffiti artist influence you now?
Evidence: Doing a piece and making an album is very, very similar; the same principles apply. You sketch, fill in, outline and highlights. Thats the same thing with the album. The sketch is like collecting tracks from people, gathering concepts. The fill in would be actually recording it. The outline would be me mixing my record. And the highlights would be me mastering it, promoting it and doing the artwork. Its very similar. Graffiti, if anything, prepared me for this inadvertently without me even realizing it. Its pretty amazing now that I think about it.
AllHipHop.com: What didnt make the cut for the Weatherman LP?
Evidence: There was a lot of material that didnt make it. If a song didnt live up to my expectations and my goals, I threw it out. There are 21 tracks on this album; 16 powerful songs with some good interludes and some clever stuff placed in between. I couldnt have anything shorter than that. There are Alchemist beats that didnt make it. There are Evidence beats that didnt make it. There are also some concepts that didnt make it. For instance, I had a song called Pros & Cons where I was talking about everything pro and then everything con; pro meaning good and con meaning bad. But Ive also got a song called Hot & Cold, which did make the album; everything hot being hot and everything cold being cold. So I couldnt have both Pros & Cons and Hot & Cold on the same album. Thats not how you build a masterpiece. Youve got to have consistency. And Pros & Cons didnt make it. Why? Because I had already created something else too similar and I wasnt afraid to throw it out. It wasnt because of a lack of creative energy, thats for sure.
AllHipHop.com: How does producing, for you, compare to rapping on a track?
Evidence: Theyre just different energies. Theyre both very gratifying but completely different; opposite ends of the spectrum. Rapping is something that comes out of my body, its my voice. Music doesnt physically come out of my finger tips. I have to play it through another device. If all the power went out all over the world tomorrow I wouldnt have the power to hook up my Triton or my ASR-10, I couldnt do it. Rapping is gratifying because its something that comes from the body. Theyre just different. Sitting at a million dollar console watching Linkin Park rap on a beat you made, you feel like a million dollars, you really do. But performing at House of Blues to a sold out show with everyone jumping up and down, its just another energy that cant be described. I love them both. Being home and producing something is where I see myself in later years. But right now, its grind time; its rapping. Ive got another five years ahead of me going hard while Im still young and have all this energy. I feel like thats my best opportunity and Im really focusing on it from a lyrical standpoint.
AllHipHop.com: What do you measure improvement by?
Evidence: When I go back and listen to my last stuff, and then I listen to this, I can hear in my rapping. For example, Im hitting the drum better now, or that Im speaking a variety of topics. I might have been more linear and one-dimensional before. Instead of testing myself, going into the booth and saying, I rap. And what Im putting down is dope so Im dope. Instead of that, Im going over my rap maybe 100 times until Alchemist says, Thats it. Im losing my ego, thats the best way to show youre getting better.