Creative control is a concept that many artists dream of. While rappers like Jadakiss and Styles struggle with the woes of shady major label shenanigans and the strings pulled by Curtis â€œInterscopeâ€ Jackson, there is always the independent emcee. Sometimes flying below the radar, independent artists still flex the creative control that seems to be privy to The Lox. For Evidence itâ€™s the reality in which he created his solo album, The Weatherman LP. Standing alone, the name Evidence may sound a bit unfamiliar but if you follow hip-hop youâ€™ve definitely heard of Dilated Peoples; the Californian, underground rap group that were once signed to Capitol Records, having dropped notable songs such as â€œWorst Comes to Worstâ€ and 2004â€™s â€œThis Way,â€ produced by Kanye West .
With a new LP out now on Koch Records, Evidence is celebrating his independence. Like it or love it, respect is due to a man who can â€œsmoke a whole eighth in spliffâ€ and blows the smoke in the face of adversity. Fingers up to the industry. Itâ€™s safe to say that Evidence did it his way. Dilated Peoples have often made magic over the gritty production of Alchemist and of course that is displayed on this album as well, but several songs on The Weatherman LP have been produced by Evidence. Fall back Kanye, The Weatherman LP is solid with no big name features. Format catches up with hip-hopâ€™s answer to Al Roker (except with a lot more swagger and a lot less weight) for a brief stop in the Toronto while touring, to chop it up about the new album and some hip-hop goodness.
“They say it never rains in Southern California but it does. With the reign of Evidence, Iâ€™ma break all the stereotypes down.”
Format: Whatâ€™s the significance of the title of the album, The Weatherman LP?
Evidence: First and foremost, it was kind of like a nickname I got from my fans back in the day. The imagery I was painting with my lyrics was ironically based around some kind of weather. I was doing the album and I was kind of in a dark place. I was on the Internet one day and this dude was like â€˜Evidence is cool and all that but he talks about the weather too muchâ€™. I was like, well if thatâ€™s the case, Iâ€™m just gonna embrace that and be The Weatherman. Itâ€™s just kind of been a loose alias since the late 90â€™s but how I tied into the concept of my album is its just breaking down the stereotypes of Los Angeles. They say it never rains in Southern California but it does. With the reign of Evidence, Iâ€™ma break all the stereotypes down. The cover of my album is California. People may not want to think of it as that but it really is. Itâ€™s a very misrepresented place with Hollywood and the media the way they perceive it but if youâ€™re there you know a lot of shitâ€™s happening.
Format: Being from Cali you think that would be enough to make a West Coast Rapper, but at times your name may be overlooked. Cali is often noted by rappers like Snoop, Ice Cube, E- 40 or The Game. You add a different feel to that. What is that you try to add to the universe of West Coast Rap?
Evidence: Iâ€™m just showing that you donâ€™t have to be like that and still get accepted. All the people that youâ€™ve mentioned, they know who Dilated is. They might not know about me as an individual but they know about our group and theyâ€™re gonna know about me as an individual. But being comfortable with who you are, [itâ€™s saying] this is Cali, too, and you canâ€™t stop it. I was born and raised [in California] and thereâ€™s nothing you can say to that. I think all those people you named, appreciate us and us not trying to be them. Thereâ€™s too many people trying to get in line and sound like them because they feel they can get love on the West. When Dilated does our thing and we sell out a House of Blues or get love on the radio with our own sound it shoes the diversity of the state. Thatâ€™s something that needs to be reflected and that ties into the whole concept of my album.
“Nowadays, LPâ€™s [are like] a rough album with a real commercial single, then you got the one love song for this and you got the one dance song for that.”
Format: On the album, there is a bit of a darker vibe that is consistent. Explain the idea of that and what prompted you to go that way with it.
Evidence: I really didnâ€™t think about making hit records. I didnâ€™t say for every two dark cuts I do, I gotta do two light ones to balance it out so people will go buy this. Iâ€™m independent, again. Iâ€™ve been on a label for six years that demanded that we have singles and that kind of shit. For me to independent again and have to freedom to do what I wanted to do, I just went all the way with it. You know? On every Dilated album thereâ€™s always a couple solo songs and my solo songs are usually the dark element of the albums. I go, you know what, thereâ€™s a lot of people who like those songs. Iâ€™m just gonna give them a whole album of that flavor. Iâ€™d like to think too, that there is still some balance on it. Itâ€™s not all completely dark but for the majority of it, it does have that sort of feel. Itâ€™s really just me not having to answer to anybody and just all the way with what I feel and because of it the LP has a vibe. Nowadays, LPâ€™s [are like] a rough album with a real commercial single, then you got the one love song for this and you got the one dance song for that. What happens is that it doesnâ€™t give you an opportunity to play the whole record. It forces you to go to the cuts you like. I wanted to make a record that you could put it and it could just take you there. Like a movie would, throughout the whole record.
Format: You referenced the movie-like aspect of the album. Talk about the concept of the video for the single, â€œMr. Slow Flow.â€
Evidence: The video is based around Beat Street, a classic hip-hop movie from the early 80â€™s. In the movie, you had this dude, Spit, going out dissing everyoneâ€™s graffiti during the night. You had RAYMO doing these ill pieces, this dope work on the train and RAYMO would come back the next day to look at his work and â€“boom- youâ€™d have this dude SPITâ€™s ugly tag in cursive writing all over their work. Iâ€™m a graffiti artist from L.A. and Iâ€™m from a very reputable crew and Iâ€™d like to think I have a skill as far as that goes but Iâ€™m playing a role in the video. Iâ€™m playing the role of the bad guy. I wanted to be bad guy one time and too many times the bad guy never wins so I wanted the bad guy to win. Iâ€™m kind of going against the whole industry right now with my mentality and really having a â€˜fuck youâ€™ approach to everything so I wanted to represent that in my video. Instead of writing SPIT I wrote MR SLOW FLOW in the same red tag writing. We emulated some of the RAYMO pieces we actually did them to the T. My man, FRAME and my man, EZRA did the pieces and went out there in the middle of the night and dissed them as SPIT, which was fun for me to do. A lot of people hit me up like â€œyo, youâ€™re a wack tagger.â€ They understand Iâ€™m playing a role, I got skills as far as this shit goes. I even paid a visit to my old label and threw up little MR SLOW FLOW for them so when they pull into the parking lot they can say hi to me everyday. Actually it wasnâ€™t me. It was a stunt double!
Format: So in the same spirit of that hip hop-inspired video how do you feel about all the talk of hip-hop being dead?
Evidence: I think Nas is a marketing genius! Nas made it so you canâ€™t do one interview without asking that question, you know? I mean, here we are talking about Nas again. Heâ€™s incredible for that, I gotta give it to him. I havenâ€™t done one interview in the last six months where someone hasnâ€™t asked me that question. He subliminally threw himself into the vein of the whole hip-hop culture by doing that. Nah, but to answer the question directly if thatâ€™s how he feels I gotta respect that because he is one the best ever to do it as far as Iâ€™m concerned. I canâ€™t be doing anything but let that be his opinion and respect it but it doesnâ€™t mean that I have to feel the same way. And I donâ€™t. Rap music is watered down. Hip-hop as a culture is alive and kicking. Some DJâ€™s are making more paper than they ever made before and doing big gigs. Graffiti is alive and kicking, I see new work on the wall everyday. So to say hip-hop is dead, is saying a whole culture is dead and itâ€™s not. Rap music is just one of the elements of the culture and itâ€™s watered down as fuck but I like that itâ€™s watered down because its giving me my own lane! Itâ€™s making me different just by virtue of what I do. I think Iâ€™m very fortunate to be dropping an album like this at a time like this.
Format: And at a time like this, hip-hop is under fire. The Don Imus situation has cast a light on hip-hop now and asked that rappers be held accountable for what they say in songs. Do you feel a responsibility to the public when releasing music?
Evidence: I donâ€™t feel a responsibility in the music I am creating. I have to be me. Whether Iâ€™m painting a positive message or a negative one, thatâ€™s my expression. The way I carry myself as a person, sure, I respect peopleâ€™s cultures. I feel a responsibility in my everyday life as a human but I donâ€™t a feel a responsibility as far as having to watch what I say or anything like that. I gotta be honest with what I create and if not then Iâ€™m living a lie. As far as creation, I feel I gotta do me and thatâ€™s it.
“I even paid a visit to my old label and threw up little MR SLOW FLOW for them so when they pull into the parking lot they can say hi to me everyday. Actually it wasnâ€™t me. It was a stunt double!”
Format: You seem to be dedicated to doing you and remaining true to yourself. The Weatherman LP itself actually has a special dedication of its own. How does that relate to the music you made this time around?
Evidence: Iâ€™m an only child and my mother was everything to me and since she passed Iâ€™ve been on a rollercoaster ride as far as coming to terms with myself and what lifeâ€™s about. Iâ€™ve always been a real strong person who felt they could handle anything, but that was the first time something really took over me. I was in a real depressed state that I couldnâ€™t kick. I felt like throughout this album if I really just paid homage to her and really just dealt with it, a therapist said it would really be good for me to do and really give her her just due. Thatâ€™s really what Iâ€™m doing through this album. Her name is Jana Taylor and my mother was an actress before I was born. When I was born, she chilled out on the acting to raise me because she didnâ€™t want to be the type of mother who was gone all the time. What happened is that my mother and father broke up and they got divorced. She didnâ€™t really have any money so she started taking photos of me in the garage. Just started making a hustle out of taking photos. It ended up leading her to becoming one of the biggest child photographers in the world. She shot Denzel Washingtonâ€™s family a number of times, Kevin Costner, Tracy Ulman and all these different celebrities just from some hustle that started in a garage. She was always her own boss and thatâ€™s what I picked up from her. I started making beats in my bedroom and started taking my beats and my rhymes as a hustle around the world, and I never really settled to do anything but that. Iâ€™m definitely following the path of her hustle that she put down. Thatâ€™s kind of like the guidelines and my blueprint of everyday.