IPaintMyMind Exclusive Interview: Evidence
As a craftsmen in a trade where bravado and stature are self-assessed, it’s a breath of fresh air to come across emcees like Evidence who don’t feel the need to boast. He’s an agile mix of confidence buffered by an expectation of constant learning, creating an undeniable alchemy that flashes in the pan never approximate. With lyrics, as with stage presence, what a rapper has to offer will be made clear immediately, removing any real need to laud one’s own performance. As a member of Dilated Peoples, Ev cemented his place as a keynote taste maker, producer, and emcee, with tracks like “Worst Comes To Worst,” becoming most people’s intersection with his work. Through the years, Rakaa and DJ Babu have also stayed busy, each portion of this Hip Hop triumvirate holding its own, and shining in their own light.
Evidence’s latest stake to claim is 2011’s “Cats & Dogs,” which has been on heavy rotation at IPaintMyMind, and which in our opinion, seals the deal as far as Ev’s place amidst the Hip Hop lexicon. With the upcoming Dilated already hotly anticipated (despite no official word on release date, etc.) we’re glad to focus on music we we’re actually able to wrap our ears around. What’s more, in our eyes, Evidence represents the evolution of Hip Hop, a genre and an art whose birth we’re still reeling from, and whose forward progress is dependent on a few classy visionaries. In our opinion, Ev is one of those people; someone who lives to create new things every day, as opposed to honing in on a facile marketing strategy. Creative prerogative isn’t slippery in Ev’s grasp, and we for one are damn happy that’s the case. After joining Minneapolis-based Rhymesayers Entertainment in 2009, and embarking on near-constant touring in support of the new album, it’s evident that Evidence has much more in store for the inquisitive backpacker.
IPMM: Ev! Hope you’re well man…. We’re big fans, glad to have linked up! First off – you killed it with “Cats & Dogs” amigo. Despite a few guest spots, this thing is a steady dose of what’s been on your mind, how would you characterize the energy of the LP?
Ev: Dark overall. Cats & Dogs fits to me. There is optimism though, and I think that’s why it works. Gold at the end of the rainbow type shit.
IPMM: You’ve been touring a lot to support the release, how’s it been? How many times a night do you get asked about the next Dilated? Lol… Notice, we haven’t ruled out asking the same question. 🙂
Ev: A lot… as well as working on StepBrothers with Alchemist. Never promising dates ever again ’til I have a real release date. It does nothing good but upset people and get expectations risen. If you like what I’m doing up ’til now, I hope it’s safe to say it’ll be quality when it drops.
IPMM: Do you have any collabo’s with RSE artists in the works? You featured Slug and Aesop Rock on “Late for the Sky” on Cats & Dogs, and in our opinion, the fit was spot on.
Ev: Much love. I’m not planning on anything as far as working with other artists just because of a label or an affiliation. If it’s natural it’ll just happen. I am a fan of the artists on the roster so to rule it out though would not be wise 🙂
IPMM: We’ve listened to “The Red Carpet” an inordinate amount of times. If that shit was on our Spotify account we’d be gettin’ punked for wearin’ it out, lol. Definitely a #2 track on a record. It’s gotta be a dream to bring on heads like Raekwon and Ras Kass….
Ev: Yea times 2. They have inspired so many, myself included. I was nervous about holding my own next to them, but the end result sounds like we were all comfortable doing what we do; not so much a competition, which made for a better song in my opinion.
IPMM: What was it like working with DJ Premier? What about Preem’s process taught you something that now informs the way you create? Is there a particular way you apply that to new opportunities?
Ev: I’ve worked with him before on Expansion Team, but this was the first time solo and as a single. He is one of the greatest to do it. What more does one say? This song has been going over great live and the video got a lot of views on the net and stuff. Great experience.
IPMM: Where do you see hip hop headed now that acts like Odd Future are what’s hot?
Ev: Same as it ever was or ever will be. New shit gets hot, older stuff goes away or finds its place and the cycle turns again. Everyone gets a shot at being new, then it’s what you do with it after that. Some figure out the code, others peak fast and drop the same. There are so many variables in between, but I think it sums up my basic outline as I see it.
IPMM: Also, considering that the ways in which the producer has shifted in stature, what does that mean for emcee’s? DJ’s?
Ev: I don’t know if I agree with you on that 100%, but I do think the producer is getting more light than ever which is great if that’s what they want. I know a lot of producers who are introverts and don’t like the attention as much as they like being involved with really being a dope producer. Either or, it’s great. The emcee is still unfortunately the most marketable, although DJ’s are killing it as of late with no emcee as well. I can’t call it. Where’s the weed?
IPMM: (Def man… and umm, it’s in our pocket.) How do you feel about the way the model has shifted for artists to make money? Ie. You’re out there pushing your record, touring and manning your own merch table. It feels like the process has become more direct, less red tape since the playing field of getting one’s message out has been leveled…
Ev: Spend more on tour and go home with less, or vice versa? I have been leaning towards the vice versa lately. At least I’ve done both, live and learn.
IPMM: What are you working on now? And if so, how would you say it differs from “Cats & Dogs”?
Ev: I haven’t started next solo or Dilated yet. Just gaining momentum through new records I’ve been finding and touring. Let you know soon!
IPMM: Who’s the one person you know you can trust to listen to something you’ve done and tell you whether it’s dope or not? Who is it that doesn’t blow sunshine up your ass when you need a real opinion?
Ev: Hard to say, trust nobody. Eat a big meal and then listen to your gut. IPMM: If you weren’t an emcee, what would you be?
IPMM: Name one artist and/or musician IPMM readers need to know about.
Ev: Roc Marciano.