Interview with Evidence of Dilated Peoples

Evidence, best known as a member of the celebrated west coast hip-hop outfit Dialated Peoples, is also the newest addition to Minneapolis hip-hop record label Rhymesayers, where he will be dropping his second solo album Cats and Dogs. We caught up with Ev at the 5th element record store in Minneapolis during a record release party for Us, his labelmate Brother Ali's latest album. Ali and Evidence are currently traveling the United States for their 'Fresh Air Tour,' where they will be joined by Toki Wright and BK-One.

How did the deal with Rhymesayers come about?
I was standing right here [at 5th Element] in 2006 with Little Brother and Dilated Peoples, doing an in-store. Slug [of Minneapolis rap group Atmosphere] was standing here also. The name Atmosphere has been popping up my whole career with Dilated Peoples. Even though I wasn't familiar with their work. So I finally got the chance to meet Slug, and I was like 'let me take a photo with you.' So I took a photo and I put it on my myspace page, and that picture caused more shit, than all my other pictures put together. People started talking about how us working together would be dope to see. A lot of girls, too. I could see that something was sparking. So I just sort of kept a loose relationship [with Slug]. In 2007 when I started working on the Weatherman LP, I just got on the phone and just cold called him. Everyone on my album, I know well. I just called him and asked if he wanted to be on my album, he said yes. I asked him how much, and he said "Just make a donation in my name to this foundation". I never heard that before. So I called my label and I told them to contact him and find out what that foundation is. And, God willing, it happened. [laughs]

So, I put him over an Alchemist beat, which is something that no one had ever heard before. So I was like 'you know what, his label is working out, dude's got a following like crazy.' I called him again a few months later and told him that I was interested in looking for a home for my second record. Weathermen LP had been out and doing really good, getting put on a lot of album of the year lists...so after putting out the Layover EP, I hit slug on the text message and said 'Do you wanna do my album, check yes or no. [laughs]

So the reason I am doing this is because Slug allowed it to happen. I think they saw my work ethic and I think they thought it would be beneficial to put me in the mix, and it happened. The greatest thing out of all this is Brother Ali called me to be on this tour before having any knowledge of me being on Rhymesayers.

Yeah, just totally natural. He had all these people he wanted on the tour who weren't really working out, so he was like 'can you do this?' and I was like 'I can.' So a week or two later I called him back and was like 'Yo, I'm actually on Rhymesayers now,' and his exact quote was 'that makes this so much more dynamic!' [laughs] That was his quote. So that's really how I'm here. I had four offers from four other labels, 2 of which for more paper. But I took the right deal for the right situation because it was right. And I'm very proud to be here. Its kind of like Kanye when he joined Rocafella, you know? It's like 'Wow I'm part of something powerful and all seems to fit.'

So I noticed your albums seem to have a weather theme..
Yeah, my next one is Cats and Dogs. More rain. I'm just a gloomy person, I guess. I'm from Southern California where they say it never rains. I don't do gangster rap. I just really figure, like, the weather, where I'm from, erases misconceptions. I live in a place that's very much a facade. We have palm trees growing everywhere but we are not tropical. So, if we stopped watering those trees, they would all die. It's like an illusion where I live, like a glorified resort. And the weather is just raining on all that shit.

So it's more of like a rain theme, then.

So how do you spend your rainy days?
Well, I always tell people if you're from Cali, you understand how not to get sidetracked by nice weather. So I can spend a perfect 85 degree day with no clouds in a darkroom all day. When it rains, I find myself going out more than I usually would [laughs]. It doesn't happen very much so I just like to be out there.

How many albums are you doing for Rhyme sayers?
I'm going to definitely do two, and hopefully do three.

It's been a pretty good year later for hip-hop, there's been a lot of good releases coming out lately. Do you have a favorite of those, like the new Raekwon, Jay-z, Kid Cudi etc?
My favorite release of 2009 was Exile's Radio. It's an instrumental album. He only sampled radio frequencies; so if he wanted good drums he would go to the mainstream stations, and if he wanted something dirty he went to an AM station. It's only radio frequencies for every single sample. It's such an amazing album that what I decided to do was take this album and make Evidence Radio: tribute to Exile, and make the unofficial vocal version of it [which is upcoming].

So how is the Step Brothers album you are doing with Alchemist coming along?
We are about 7 or 8 songs deep right now. That's just my best friend, we hangout every day regardless of we're making music or not. I look up to him and he's learned some things from me. I think we just give each other a good balance, and I feel like that record is gonna be something special. We don't want to rush it because in the big picture it's important to get it right. We have a song called "Just Step" out there that's leaking that's major, we have a song on that Evidence radio called "It's coming down." We have a a song called "So Fresh" which is on my Layover EP. So there's a lot of stuff leaking that's out there already.

Do you think that there's a difference between the Stepbrothers stuff and collaborations that you've had with Alchemist before?
Yeah, we're doing this thing where we're not focusing on choruses. Just a lot of rhyming and if a hook happens, it'll happen. Like, if you get a DOOM record, you don't want to hear DOOM and Mary J. Blige, you know what I mean? [laughs]

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