Mr. Slow Flow
Interviewer: Roosevelt Treasurechest
The evolution and progress of Dilated Peoples is perhaps best personified by Evidence. "The monotone microphone master" has grown considerably both as a producer and emcee since he first appeared on record. As legend has it, Evidence was looking for a rhyme partner initially because he did not feel he could carry the QD3 beats that he was given by himself. Imagine that, considering that today Evidence released his first full solo album, The Weatherman LP. It seems that Evidence has hit his stride in a big way lately. One listen to Dilated's most recent album, 20/20, made it clear that Evidence had stepped his game up. His rhymes have never been crisper, and his beats are banging more than Jenna Jameson.
To commemorate the release of his new album, we bring you this "From The Vault" interview with Evidence that took place on the eve of 20/20's release. Enjoy, and bring your raincoat!
SoundSlam: How do you feel now that this album's about to drop, in comparison to how you felt on the verge of The Platform, or the earlier records?
Evidence: Strangely enough, quite similar. It's still brand new to me. Everything's still new. I'm still always on the forefront of something new. I'm always expecting something. I'm never a stagnant type person. I just feel like bigger and better things are about to come. But I feel like we kind of stripped the record down, back to the The Platform kind of sound. So it's interesting that you brought The Platform up.
SoundSlam: Do you feel Neighborhood Watch was properly received by people? Did that do what you wanted it to do?
Evidence: Yes and no. It just kind of depends what type of person you view. We definitely broke into a whole other category of the game that I had personally been interested in checking out for a long time. We were received well, you know, mainstream video and mainstream radio play. You ask a lot of those people, a lot of those people had never heard anything previous Dilated. It kind of was a breath of fresh air, whereas you had people who were diehard Platform, or Expansion Team fans that were expecting something different. I understand. It's really just a matter of perspective and where you were at, at the time. I do also understand that the Neighborhood Watch campaign didn't get fully represented properly as it should had we done a few different things, or had the stars lined up properly. I think the overall perspective of the campaign would have definitely made people listen to the music a little differently. I felt like certain steps were taken, or not taken. And that affected the outcome of the product, not just the music itself.
SoundSlam: What are fans going to get in the new record? If they picked up all the previous records, what's new that they're going to get, and what's going to be that constant Dilated sound that carries through?
Evidence: This record is pretty much the first record that's really in-house produced. Babu and myself produced the majority of it. So there's a consistency factor happening that's really good. And it's also mixed by two engineers, and that's it. We didn't go to a lot of studios and stuff. I think with this new Dilated record the skills are sharper than ever. The sound is really guided properly, like through your speakers. We really had it translated through the best mixers, and the best engineers. But at the same time, Babu's beats, and my beats are kind of gritty. It's kind of like a mesh of both worlds. It's so funny because it's like Dilated fully grown, but at the same time more stripped down than ever. It's just got an ill duality to it. The lyrics are sharp, the beats are sharp, the cuts are extra sharp. I feel like everyone is putting forth all their effort , and that's what really stands out about this Dilated towards the other ones. Not that the effort hasn't always been there. But with this one, it was concentrated just because of the in-house mentality that was taken. Even when the Alchemist track, the Joey Chavez track comes on, that's just extended family anyway. It's just got a consistency happening to it.
SoundSlam: With this title, 20/20, Neighborhood Watch, Expansion Team, you guys stick very hard to the Dilated theme. Do you think any of those complexities, or subliminal messages take way from that mass appeal that you're talking about earlier, or more people being able to get and understand the music?
Evidence: Maybe at first you didn't get it. There's something you didn't get. But then three or four albums go by and you're like, 'wait a second, there's something here. This is a whole collection. This is not just individual thoughts, it's something bigger. Maybe I need to get this whole selection right here.' I feel like if we're ever fortunate to have ten albums or something, we can do a box set and everyone will see the evolution of the group. And they'll see it kind of all fit into the bigger picture. Sure, there's going to be people that are thrown off, or for that matter, people who just don't even pay attention and just see it at that regular level. But that's the thing I like about Dilated. There's always dualities, and there's always something to get the third or fourth time.
SoundSlam: You also talked about the duality on the record, and you and Rakka seem to really compliment each other well. When you guys are approaching a song, do you also think about how you guys balance each other out? Where do you see your relationship as emcees working?
Evidence: It's funny. Rakaa, he's real aggressive on the mic. He brings a lot of the live show energy to the booth. Whereas me, I kind of sit back on the beat more. You'll notice like on a song where I'm by myself, I might just be more relaxed or mellow. Or If I do a song with Defari, I rhyme in a lower voice. When I rhyme with Rakka I got to step up to the plate sometimes and get with his energy. Or he has to tone it down to meet me. But we kind of have this balance somewhere we know each other have to be. I think we really honed in on this album where we're both ourselves still. I'm not too mellow. He's not too hyped. We're both kind of right in pocket. It's not easy to find that. So after four albums, I feel we kind of locked in on that for this album.
SoundSlam: I was talking to Babu earlier and he talked about being on MTV all the time, and the Kanye West single did a lot of good things, but it may have alienated some of the older fans. And in some of your lyrics from the past, you have lyrics like, 'you want what you don't have.' And you say you're 'after the gold, then after that the platinum.' After you had a taste of that mass appeal and play, did you ever think, 'ok now I see what it's like and I want to go back to how I had it before.'?
Evidence: Yeah, yes and no. That's actually pretty accurate to some degree. You know, the grass is always gonna be greener on the other side. Once you realize, 'Ok.' I realized one day I already stand for something. I can't fall for anything anymore. I need to realize this is who I am and what you come out as originally is what you're always going to be to the people. Unless you really just switch up your whole identity, you might as well just embrace what you are. That's what I'm doing more than ever, just understanding who I am and what I feel, and just running with it. Because at the end of the day people want somebody to get behind who they know is comfortable in their own skin. They don't want somebody's who's just going with trends and flying around. They want somebody who got their feet firmly planted in the ground. I'm really just taking a leadership role, not even if it's within the group, but just as an emcee for myself. And just letting people know that I'm here and I do what I do, and I'm going to try to get the best at that.
SoundSlam: You say on The Platform Dilated means to grow, you are people of expansion. In the your time in music, how have you seen yourself grow and expand musically and in life in general?
Evidence: Musically I've become a lot more open to other things. When I was a young kid I was a lot more fickle. 'No, I don't listen to this type of music.' I was just throwing s**t out because it was under an umbrella. As I dove into stuff more I realized that there's good and bad in everything. I've become more open. But at the same time, I've also realized what I'm here to do. And that's one thing I'm proud of, because I'm a fan of something I don't have to go mock it. I can still do my own thing. As a person, I've grown so much. I'm 28 now, versus me being 21, 22, I'm getting a lot more comfortable. I'm a man. My financial is a lot better, which allows me to not have to panic everyday and run around like a chicken with it's head cut off. A lot of things are good. It's ensuring some stability, which is going to allow me to create and really focus on what I need to do, and get my music out the way I want to. I've also gone through a lot of personal hardships, which has helped me grow, like family wise and other things. All that stuff man, you just throw it all into the pot and you just do what you do. But, like I say on the new album, 'I wear my heart on my sleeve, but I just got my jacket over it.' I don't give myself away 100%. Some rappers, they let everything about their personal lives be known. They put it in a song. I always wanted to leave a little gray area, a little room for mystique. That's what I do. You get to know me, but you get to know me only so much and I like it that way. There comes a day when that might change, but for now I'm staying in the shadows a little bit.
SoundSlam: You're one of the groups that incorporate a full spectrum of Hip Hop into your music, deejaying, even referencing graffiti writing, and b-boying and all that. Where do you see the importance of displaying full Hip Hop culture in your music whereas some other groups don't really do that?
Evidence: Well you know, it's just funny people are like, 'you guys make Hip Hop.' People just think Hip Hop is rap. It's rap, rap is Hip Hop. Hip Hop is a culture obviously, and it's just like misinforming somebody. It's our job to let the people know some time what this really is. You could look at it as however you want to view it, but you can't deny the truth. At the end of the day it really comes from, you really need to respect. The people who you respect, you need to find out who they respect, and really take it back as far as it can go, and understand where it came from. There's also a lot of people in this game who really deserve the f**king recognition. And it's like, why try to hide that? I'm not a hater in any form. Just as much as I'm respecting DJ Premier, or just as much as I'm respecting KRS-ONE, why not pay homage to Crazy Legs? Why not pay homage to Rhazel? Why not pay homage to Vision, or Risk, or some of my favorite graffiti artists from the West Coast? There's no reason. So, we're just letting people know.
SoundSlam: You're also making a lot of moves on the production tip. Are you close to producing and having your own full solo album, producing and rapping on all the tracks?
Evidence: Yes. Production is where I feel my future is going to be. Lyrically I'm getting better and better. And production wise I really want to even try to beat that. I want to have it so I don't want to rap on anybody else's s**t except Alchemist and mine, and Joey Chavez, that's it. I'm just trying to get to their level, and Babu too, their level. Cause a lot of these cats are really stepping it up, and forcing me to do the same. When I surround myself around creativity it's just inspiring and it's gonna make me get better. I just stay around focused cats. Because of it a lot of good things are coming. I just produced Planet Asia's new album, his whole album. And that's something that's ill, because Babu just did Likwit Junkies. Alchemist just did 1st Infantry, now I got The Medicine I produced. We're all getting to step our game up, we're not just doing 12 inches anymore. We're doing albums, which is something I respect. Like 9th Wonder right now banging all these albums out, it's crazy to me. You gotta really get your bars up right now. That's what I'm doing. I'm letting it be known that I can do an album, and Planet Asia's where you're going to get that. I'm also doing a project with Alchemist where we both rap it half and half. I'm doing half the beat and he's making half the beats. It's just going to be really retarded. We got a strong vibe, him and I, when we hook up. It's just going to be crazy. A lot of good things happening.
SoundSlam: It sounds like it. One of the things that you guys are known for is having a crazy live show. I missed you guys having a headlining tour with Neighborhood Watch. How did you feel about that not happening, and do you plan on going out in support of this record?
Evidence: Yeah man. A lot of things happened. We were fortunate enough to tour with Kanye West. On the Neighborhood Watch tour we got to open for him, which was one of the best experiences I could of ever had on the road. I learned so much from that tour. During that tour I lost my mom, R.I.P. So I just cut out man. A lot of people were asking why I wasn't there, that was the reason. Rakka and Babu held me down every night. They just had the crowd shout out love for me, and I just appreciated that a lot. But no one really knew why they were doing it because we kept it quiet. I just had to get out. I spent three or four months just away from everything. Babu had the birth of his second son. Rakka was going through a lot of crazy s**t. We just all kind of took time off. We just didn't do anymore promotion. Rakka called me up one day and was like, 'we need to get back into the studio and do this for the people. We need to get back and bang it out right.' So we just set up a studio in the middle of LA between all the distances of our homes. We just got in there and did the record we had dreamed about doing from the beginning. That's why it came together like it did. It just came out raw.
SoundSlam: Do you ever think that fans forget that the artists that they are listening to and looking up to are people just like them, and going through similar things like everyday people?
Evidence: I forget cause I'm a fan of other artists too...This whole life is such a crazy thing. Everyone's got such a different perspective on it, you can't really hate or be mad at anybody for having the right or wrong perspective. You just gotta kind of stick to your own and just do what you do. I'm not mad at anybody for thinking like artists are super humans or something, cause a lot of times these TVs, these radios make people perceive them to be. But groups like Dilated, we're the peoples' people. We're regular cats getting out there just rocking s**t. That's what we're doing.
SoundSlam: Do you have a favorite track on the new album that you are currently enjoying the most, or want people to look out for the most?
Evidence: I read when artists do this and I hate it. I hate it man when artists do what I'm about to say, but I'm going to do it anyway.
SoundSlam: I love'em all!
Evidence: I love'em all, hahahahaha. I just read an article the other day, I was so mad at the artist for saying that, f**k man I'm guilty. It's like knowing you're going to turn into your parents eventually and seeing it happen. Yeah, I really do man, f**k. Yep, that's it.
SoundSlam: If you three were going to run for a political office and one had to be president, vice president, Secretary of state. Where would you see you guys falling in those roles?
Evidence: Interesting. I think, I think I might be the guy, well no...Well now that sounds egotistical. That sounds like a trap. I don't like that question.
SoundSlam: Babu answered it. Babu answered it.
Evidence: What he say?
SoundSlam: He said Rakka would have to be president. And he was saying you might have to be president of your own country as well.
SoundSlam: And he would just chill in the back, roll with the party.
Evidence: Hahaha. I think, hmmmm, I'm going to stay away from that one. That could be a trick.
SoundSlam: You'll take the fifth on it.Evidence: I plead the fifth on that one. How about this? I'll do like George Bush. I just answer it by talking about something else. I love our new album, it comes out February 21st.
SoundSlam: What do you hope that fans take away from this record when they're done listening to it? What do you hope they get from it?
Evidence: I hope it inspires them. If you make music, I really made this kind of in the back of my mind wanting to share the record with people who already make music, other beat-makers, and other rappers. That's who kind of I was thinking of. Hopefully it inspires. Like if one of my favorite producers hears my album and he's like, 'man, that album is crazy. I just want to go make a beat right now.' Then I did my job. Or if a rapper heard it, and he was like, 'damn they really spit. I don't want to write a love song. I want to go write a 24 bar burner.' Then I feel like I did my job.
SoundSlam: What do you hear now that makes you go do that?
Evidence: Not that much. Straight up, not that f**king much. More of my homeboys, more of hearing Alchemist rap. Like this dude hasn't even been rapping the last four years, and he's just killing it right now. Hanging out with Prodigy, and writing. I got to be on "4th Of July" on the Mobb Deep mixtape album. He featured me on there, which was big for me to be on their record. Just sitting down writing with P and all them and seeing how fast they come up with all their s**t like it's nothing, and I'm sitting scrambling for words. A lot of the people who you might take for granted are really really ill. And until you try to do it yourself, you have no idea how ill these people are. I just got Juelz Santana, I actually like a lot of that s**t. There's some bangers on there. I like it all. I'm into whatever, always pumping new Defari, the Planet Asia album.