interview, Main

Evidence Weathers the Storm, Juggling Personal Life and Rap Career

20 years later, Evidence is still putting out quality Hip Hop.

Evidence’s latest LP, Weather or Not, is one of the year’s first great albums. The L.A. indie-rap vet remains as consistent as they come, and his third full-length is 40-minutes of pure, unadulterated boom bap production, textbook in-the-pocket flows and a stream of quick-witted punchlines. However, Ev digs a little deeper on his first solo LP in seven years, as he worked on the project while his girlfriend (and mother of his child) battled cancer.

Weather or Not features the gritty, no-nonsense sound fans have come to expect from the Dilated Peoples emcee over the past 20-plus years. Production on the new LP is handled by Alchemist, DJ Premier, DJ Babu, Nottz and Evidence himself. The album’s final song, “By My Side Too,” shows the West Coast rapper at his most vulnerable and emotional, as he tells the story about discovering his girlfriend had stage three breast cancer shortly after their son was born.

“Rappers aren’t just rappers,” he said during a phone conversation with AAHH. “It’s hard with the career right now. But I just want people to understand, yeah I want to be out there touring, doing what I’m doing. I’m weighing a lot in right now. So if you see me out, know I’m there, and if I’m not, it’s for the right reasons.”

In our interview, Evidence also spoke about balancing his personal life while promoting a new record, his relationship with Rhymesayers Ent. and what keeps him motivated 20 years into his career.

Above Average Hip Hop: Congrats on the new album, how you feeling about it, now that it’s out there for fans to enjoy?

Evidence: I’m pretty relieved it’s out. Sitting on a project, sometimes, making a bunch of videos, getting it all ready, wanted it to come out sooner, but I’m glad I had patience.

AAHH: It’s been nearly seven years since your last solo album, but you’ve done an LP with Alchemist and an album with Dilated Peoples in that time. Did you intentionally step away from your solo career to get back into collaborating with these groups?

E: Yeah man, I started with Dilated then went into Evidence, then Step Brothers is something that was just so fun, then back to Dilated. It’s all in the same thing. I do realize not everyone follows everything.

AAHH: Did you have to change your mindset and approach to writing on these solo projects than when you’re working with these groups?

E: I would say so. A group effort is just a different animal. You got to agree on stuff, and you got to find like-minded things to talk about. With solo, it’s not as much buffer. But you can also fall a lot harder on a solo one, but the success can be greater. So it’s just a different kind of thing.

AAHH: You been in music for well over 20 years now, what keeps you motivated to keep doing what you’re doing?

E: It’s still what I love doing. I’m also a producer, so that kind of gives me an extension a little bit. I can see music through other people’s eyes when I’m working with them, and that gets me inspired. And I’m not the typical writer, where I just wake up and write, so that’s my whole new thing. It’s more like I kinda write when the beat tells me to. So getting in a process of making music everyday for no better reason, is why a lot of raps just happen where, I don’t know, other people put a little more on it. Maybe that’s unintentional, this is what’s happening, this flow sounds natural.

I also feel like I’m a little bit of a late bloomer in the sense that, I still feel like there’s room to go. So maybe some people my age dropping off or whatever, but for me I’m still around Alchemist and a lot of creative people – touring with Atmosphere – will keep you motivated because you just see good is good, wack is wack, and age becomes a secondary thing.

AAHH: You mentioned working with younger artists, you recently put out a project with Domo Genesis. How’d that come about?

E: He was on the last Dilated album we did. He was on Step Brothers’ album too. He did No Idols with Alchemist. So yeah, he’s just been around a lot, since 2012. He’s just a homie. People I’m putting out are just people who been coming through – Defari, Madchild, Domo, Krondon. Trying to make a few placements on some bigger records. People on the album, same thing, everyone came through.

Like I said before Domo just fits into what I do. As far as like, we vibed and kinda like think similar. Age doesn’t come up that much. There’s weed, good music, that’s it (laughs).

AAHH: Was that planned for that project to drop around the same time as Weather or Not?

E: Not that close, we were trying to get it out at the end of the year. But I was also trying to get Weather or Not out at the end of the year. So never happens the way you intend. It was kind of cool the way it lined up. Because I had put out Defari’s album – I didn’t put it out but I produced it – the same way with Domo. Just put it out with tweets and not heavy promotion. Let people find it over a slow burn.

AAHH: You were already established when you signed with Rhymesayers. You’ve now released two solos and two group projects with RSE. What is your relationship like with them? And are you glad you signed with with them instead of self-releasing material?

E: Yeah, I’m happy I did it with them. My business is good with them, to begin with, so that just makes everything else go well. Maybe if I did it myself, maybe I could have a little bit bigger of a split. But what does that mean? I would still have to hire everybody and do everything and end up having less. So it’s a tremendous benefit. It’s not always about like a mathematical split, there’s other things to consider. They’ve really helped me and built me into their structure as far as touring.

AAHH: I feel like with each of your records, there’s always a standout track or two that are very personal that sort of gives fans a very close look at your life. On ‘Cats & Dogs’ it was “I Don’t Need Love,” on the new project it was “By My Side Too.” Are these songs you push yourself to make, or do they sort of come out organically?

E: Yeah so it’s like “I Still Love You” (from The Weatherman LP), these aren’t records I’m performing and promoting, you know. It’s just like what happens when you’re dealing with stuff like this, and you don’t have a label telling you you can or can’t make this type of music, I have the opportunity to. This song “By My Side Too” came as a presentation to her, like listen to what I was making. And she thought I should share it, so I did.

But it’s like, what if I don’t do that? And then, what’s gonna replace it? A song about rap (Laughs)? It just becomes this weird thing. But I don’t want to be like known for selling struggle, or selling pain or sickness, death, I’m not trying to be that. But it’s just inevitable in our life, and close people – my mom and mother of my son – are things that are tough to talk about. Right now, we’re fighting this fight, and she felt having the positivity out there would be good for her. And yeah, who am I to deny that, when I made it for her anyway.

AAHH: Yeah, for sure. It’s definitely one of my favorites on the record and probably one of my favorite songs you’ve done.

E: Thank you. I’m doing a lot more than just having a record out right now, you know. I’m trying, I’m really trying to keep everything strong. It’s a lot out there, you know. Cause it’s like, rappers aren’t just rappers. It’s hard with the career right now. But I just want people to understand, yeah I want to be out there touring, doing what I’m doing. I’m weighing a lot in right now. So if you see me out, know I’m there, and if I’m not, it’s for the right reasons. It’s not just I want to be taking long absences between projects, tours and stuff.

#IndieSpotlight, Main

#IndieSpotlight: Dough the Freshkids’ ‘Black Rome’ Is A Buzzworthy Slice Of Hip Hop Goodness

There have been many eras in Hip Hop, but none as forgotten as the Nubian era, which was characterized by…

There have been many eras in Hip Hop, but none as forgotten as the Nubian era, which was characterized by a heightened sense of knowledge of self and anti-oppressive forces that be. The ironic commercial appeal of empowering groups like Public Enemy or Brand Nubian eventually morphed into the current era where “rap” has become a business move/career choice rather than a voice of the underdog filled with subversive talking points that rival university lectures.

This is what I found so intriguing about the new project Black Rome by Dough the Freshkid — representing Crenshaw, California. The follow up to his free tape Six Shots and released via his independent label Every Penny Count, the 15-song effort is a blend of vibes, ranging from an early millennium G-Unit mixtape structure (see the chorus on “Cookin’”), 90s east coast soundscapes (see “We Rich” with its scratch hook), to deeply reflective contextual content aimed at giving opposing viewpoints to widely accepted “fact.”

 
An example of this is the title track, which focuses on the idea that a false image of “white Jesus” was shaped by artist Leonardo DaVinci. Its execution is reminiscent of similar records, such as “Why Is That” by BDP and “Nature Of The Threat” by Ras Kass. This song could literally be transcribed into an incredibly compelling University level essay.

 
Elsewhere on the record, he traverses themes such as the (historical) political and social-economic climate in the United States (see “God’s Curse” verse two) to gang life in LA. Nothing is ever glorified, and everything comes off as methodically thoughtful. On the track “I See He Blued Up,” he addresses industry Crippin,’ as well as unnecessary killing in the streets. “Man up, out the choppas down and out your hands up,” he raps, pointing to the glorification of needless gun violence.

 
Some of the standouts include the gorgeous instrumental that rides with the top down on “Palm Trees II” featuring Tropic626— which I found myself revisiting quite a few times this week — and the unspoken dopeness of “Still Arlington (1994)” which featured Wee Dogg.

“I never promote crack in my raps, I only promote facts in my raps,” he implores as the project comes to a close with the dramatically honest, autobiographical “Sincerely Me.” Even at its most informative and reflective, Dough manages to make this project an incredibly digestible gem packed with lots of wisdom and great talking points. Worth a spot on your end of year playlist if you’re looking for some undeniable fire that is still creeping under the radar.

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Outside The Box: Discover The Positive World Of Krhazey Whytheycallhimthat

Every once in a while you come across an artist who falls outside the box of industry convention; by that…

Every once in a while you come across an artist who falls outside the box of industry convention; by that I — of course — an artist who doesn’t seem motivated by the basics that have poisoned the soul of the culture. An artist that puts his music first. Brooklyn MC Krhazey Whytheycallhimthat is one of those artists. “A positive change in consciousness has the power to topple barriers almost as easy as a negative change creates them,” he tells AAHH describing his mantra for creating.

If that doesn’t create an immediate sense of urgency for his music, then I don’t know what to tell you.

Off the bat, there is something endearing about his admirable need for not only a purpose but to give back. Early on in his career, he began volunteering his time — and his unique brand of Hip Hop to the 25-year-old Art Start. The program dedicates itself to New York City’s underserved youth, delivering consistent creative workshops inside homeless shelters, alternative to incarceration programs, and partnering youth agencies.

“The program gave me a sense of direction, understanding and a hope for change; real change in myself and my environment,” he says.

 
What I find so cool about his music is the way that it all seems to contrast and compliment itself at the same time. His latest joints are a great example. “Jack Frost” for example has this bouncy ballad behind it, paired with these haunting lyrics that have this almost literal intention of describing this cold-heartedness developed though…well…life. Then there’s “23:5,” which has this almost “Marvin’s Room” feel to it — complete with a call to his ex. But it spirals into this realization that the liquor is a crutch, followed an aggressive assertion of the path before him.

Then the vibe of his latest “Makeda” is a pseudo-love track with hella depth, and again a completely different vibe.

Everything I hear from this kid I like. Even going back to the summer, with his super dope single/video “BTD,” with it’s kind of goofy visual concept.

 
Without being driven by the same old, his music has this certain unspoken originality to it. Even the fact that he rocks an anime-inspired kung-fu headband ends up coming across like DOOM’s mask in a sense. It’s hard not to get into.

And the spirit of giving back, which inspired him to start his own foundation — Young Heroes Undefeated — is an added layer that makes you want to root for him. “We make original comic books for children with special needs and use the profits to send the kids and their families on all expense paid vacations,” he explains of the foundation’s mission.

With a four comic series being released next year — on top of a solo LP and a project from my his Audio Temple — there is a lot to look forward to here. He’ll be launching a kickstarter for his foundation in coming weeks; stay tuned to our Instagram for details on how to support something positive.

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#IndieSpotlight, Main

#Indiespotlight: Prototype & Lazarus The Kid’s ”Voicemail” Is A Journey Worth Taking

Duo Prototype & Lazarus The Kid Just dropped a new project, and believe me, it’s worth a spin. On a…

Duo Prototype & Lazarus The Kid Just dropped a new project, and believe me, it’s worth a spin. On a rainy day, I rode around giving this one a fair shake and was taken for more of a journey than I expected. 

The concise EP is immensely musical, with these lush, expansive musical landscapes for Prototype to literally bleed his heart out upon; there is no hyperbole in the emotion packed within these five tracks. Atop soulful samples, energetic drum patterns, and pretty piano keys, there’s a sense of loss and sadness that lingers amongst the celebration and assertion of the dream chase. 

Immediately on the heartfelt “Color,” we’re introduced to demise of a powerful relationship in Prototypes life — one which he gave his all to, and once thought would possibly end in marriage. It’s a loss that is later encapsulated with an emotionally charged piano interlude brimming with a heavy-hearted sense of despair. 

There’s also the loss of Jason Kalinga, who is actually featured “Simba.” The second verse of “Better Way” is a letter to his lost friend, who was another powerful figure in his life.

Amongst the deep moments standing as an endearing open book into his world, there is an incredible sense of confidence; Prototype is chasing the vision in his head — and it’s hard to imagine anyone attempting to detract him from his vision after taking in this project. 

Ending off with the crown jewel, “November 15,” Prototype & Lazarus The Kid position themselves as exciting artists putting out music with not only a purpose  but a strong sense of its emotional connection. They know what they’re doing, and it’s something that hinges more on the artistic merit side of things than the trendy shit. This isn’t for cool points, it’s a therapeutic listen made for longevity. This is a catalog worth keeping an eye on.

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#IndieSpotlight, Main

#Indiespotlight: Prototype & Lazarus The Kid’s ”Voicemail” Is A Journey Worth Taking

Duo Prototype & Lazarus The Kid Just dropped a new project, and believe me, it’s worth a spin. On a…

Duo Prototype & Lazarus The Kid Just dropped a new project, and believe me, it’s worth a spin. On a rainy day, I rode around giving this one a fair shake and was taken for more of a journey than I expected. 

The concise EP is immensely musical, with these lush, expansive musical landscapes for Prototype to literally bleed his heart out upon; there is no hyperbole in the emotion packed within these five tracks. Atop soulful samples, energetic drum patterns, and pretty piano keys, there’s a sense of loss and sadness that lingers amongst the celebration and assertion of the dream chase. 

Immediately on the heartfelt “Color,” we’re introduced to demise of a powerful relationship in Prototypes life — one which he gave his all to, and once thought would possibly end in marriage. It’s a loss that is later encapsulated with an emotionally charged piano interlude brimming with a heavy-hearted sense of despair. 

There’s also the loss of Jason Kalinga, who is actually featured “Simba.” The second verse of “Better Way” is a letter to his lost friend, who was another powerful figure in his life.

Amongst the deep moments standing as an endearing open book into his world, there is an incredible sense of confidence; Prototype is chasing the vision in his head — and it’s hard to imagine anyone attempting to detract him from his vision after taking in this project. 

Ending off with the crown jewel, “November 15,” Prototype & Lazarus The Kid position themselves as exciting artists putting out music with not only a purpose  but a strong sense of its emotional connection. They know what they’re doing, and it’s something that hinges more on the artistic merit side of things than the trendy shit. This isn’t for cool points, it’s a therapeutic listen made for longevity. This is a catalog worth keeping an eye on.

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#WeeklyPlaylist: Week Of Feb.20

A$AP Rocky, Gucci Mane, and 21 Savage - Cocky The lead hype song for Uncle Drew the movie, this is...

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