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.

interview, Interviews, Main

#Interview Mark Spratley AKA @SpratFool Is Proving You Don’t Need Clout Tokens To Solidify A Musical Empire

Mark Spratley is a name in the industry you certainly should get acquainted with. A master of many, creating an…

Mark Spratley is a name in the industry you certainly should get acquainted with. A master of many, creating an entity in so many different lanes within the industry from management, PR, writing, events, curation and much more. Within 5 years of the industry, Sprat has accomplished what takes many 20-30 years. The young 27 year old mogul is creating an empire before our eyes and it only seems to be getting more and more impressive. Why wouldn’t it?! From helping to bring artists such as Lud Foe, DDG, DaBaby, Smooky Margielaa, Albee Al, Sicko Mobb, Nikko Lafre and many more to the limelight, his resume is vast.

Take a look at our most recent interview with the Starting Five CEO as we discuss music, how to get in the industry, his journey and much more.

Make sure to follow Sprat on Twitter and IG @SpratFool

You’ve been in the music industry for only 5 years and have already created something massive. How did you do it and what is planned for the future?

Countless hours, grind, plotting and studying. I’ve learned and LVL’d UP. That’s it. I knew if I put in the work I would find a way. I go 3000% for what ever I do or whoever I work with. Some people make the same moves and expect things to change. Some people aren’t willing to starve in order to binge forever. I’m out here mastering and succeeding at whatever I do. I make sure of it. I’ve got an insane ear for music, that’s been known. That’s why some of your favorite A&R’s would be asking me to pull up to their office on the regular.

I’m here to takeover though. I’m going to continue to put people into position and continue my brand. The empire is forming, the foundation has been laid and built.

We recently saw in another interview that you have a new platform on the way? Whats the details on that? (If you can give us any)

NEW DAY, NEW WAVE (LITERALLY). Zias (Popular youtube star &influencer) and myself are partnering up on a new media outlet x platform for something special. We’re about to surpass the field quick. Two powerful influencers, we already got the traffic between the both of us, both widely connected. Run it up!

Bunch of content on the way from the both of us

If you could tell someone looking to get into the industry one piece of advice, what would it be?

GRIND SMART. Bring something to the table. Your passion and time can go a long way. Learn. Be willing to do what the next man is not.

You know how much free time and work I gave out to get to where I am now?! Now my time costs. Money isn’t everything in the beginning, work for your opportunity. People worried about $20-$5000 (Short term money) when sometimes you just need to see the bigger picture.

You wouldn’t want everyone to bring ketchup to the BBQ, you need someone to bring the bun, the burger, the juice, the drink and everything else. You feel me?! Same goes for the industry or any job you do in life. Bring something different to the table and create a demand for it. That’s when you create stock for yourself (You create worth).

What were you doing before becoming a music mogul?

I was doing the school thing before I decided to leave for music full time. I was making money however I needed to.

What new artists do you have your eye on?

NEW SIGNINGS on the way. I’m getting back in my artist bag 3000%. Look out for all of that. I got to hold my list down for the time being.

How did you get into PR?

Fresh Moss and Neako had me on a lot of PR type of moves early. I always studied and noticed was was going on in the game. Got tired of hitting up a lot of these foolish and corny “Bloggers” and people that were out and around at the time that felt entitled. A lot of them aren’t even around anymore haha. Many didn’t want to see someone else moving faster or really making something out of all this. I decided to take everything into my own hands. From then on I turned this PR wave into something masterful. Countless artists have popped off since through my PR, their ability and me connecting these dots on the daily.

Top 5 modern artists most likely in your daily music mix?

It all depends on the day and mood

Lately… DaBaby, pre kai ro, Lil Baby, YNW Melly, Stunna 4 Vegas & DaiDough. I’ve been bumping FBG Duck heavily as of late, bro got energy.

A few artists are rising up out of New Jersey that you’ve been alerting us about for over a year or 2. From Daidough to Coi Leray and many more. New Jersey has some talent for sure, how do you think your state will hold up in 2019?

New Jersey is UP right now and it’s only going to get crazier. A lot of artists doing their thing. Daidough got home and been going stupid. Coi Leray has been spazzin since G.A.N.

Albee Al doing him as always, Tsu Surf home and just dropped a fire project, Arsonal on damn TV, Fatboy SSE is outta here and in his own lane, Mir Fontane been putting in work. Jersey got a wide variety of sounds, every city/town is different, North and South Jersey completely different.

Beyond the artists there are so many talented people coming up out of NJ and doing their thing in this music industry or elsewhere. It’s great to see people winning from your home state.

We remember you going crazy at SXSW with Smooky Margielaa a few years back when he was only an artist with a 10k following, how did you all meet?

Shitt my man Mike had told me I had to bump something while we was in LA. The track happened to be ‘Layed up’, heard it and it was a wrap for me. His mans was GRAPE, we was all in LA, so we all linked up at the apartment, vibed and got to work immediately. Started putting in that push, went to SXSW and went full force after SXSW. Glad to see Smooky up right now.

We dove into your Twitter and did a little google search on you while doing some more research. We saw you got into it a little with Akademiks online last year? LOL, tell us more?

LMAO! If you did some research like you said I’m sure you know what was said. Jersey people certainly don’t tolerate bullshit. I called BS on something he spoke on. Jersey got behind it. That’s it.

What ever happened to Nikko Lafre?

Man I can’t speak on another man that’s not with me. We definitely had something crazy growing, that’s where I’m going to leave it.

Drew Love out here winning though with THEY, Lee Beats out here winning, Johnny Rain out here still doing his thing up.

#Interview Mark Spratley AKA @SpratFool Is Proving You Don't Need Clout Tokens To Solidify A Musical Empire

Thoughts on R Kelly latest situation and documentary?

SHEESH! I don’t want to believe it but it’s their right before our eyes. It’s a shame because his music and voice is absolutely legendary. I feel as though 60 Minutes would have been a more credible platform to present this problem to the world instead of a Lifetime documentary. I’d like to hear R Kelly voice his defense for sure but regardless his actions are sickening. We’ll see how it taints his legacy, it is 2019 so who knows.

2019 plans?


#Interview Mark Spratley AKA @SpratFool Is Proving You Don't Need Clout Tokens To Solidify A Musical Empire #Interview Mark Spratley AKA @SpratFool Is Proving You Don't Need Clout Tokens To Solidify A Musical Empire

Continue Reading

James Seville’s Jamesville Is An Honest Slice Of Alt-Hip-Hop Vibes

Having first got onto New Orleans-born artist James Seville after he dropped his first release via streaming networks, Beta, he’s…

Having first got onto New Orleans-born artist James Seville after he dropped his first release via streaming networks, Beta, he’s been an exciting artist to watch grow. The initial taste of his sound provided a diverse base of alternative Hip Hop potential, and as he’s grown, the music has only become more personal, and — whether intentional or not — refined. His first official release, which comes after a string of one-off singles (which we were here for), Jamesville is an exciting blend of vibes that perfectly encapsulate the new waves blurred lines between bar-centric traditionalism and melody-driven bops.

“I open up a lot and talk about things that have helped me grow throughout the years…losing my dad, dropping out of school, falling in love, falling out of love, drinking, drugs [etc.],” James told N.O.-based Off Beat Magazine this past summer. “I like to make music that is genuinely good, and that people of all ages can enjoy. Rap music that you and your mom can bump together.”

It’s this universality and approachability that makes this latest body of work so enjoyable. With his late father being a blues musician, and having grown up engulphed in the iconically jazzy sound of “N’Awlins,” James music has this unique approach. It’s a melting pot of vibes, brimming with emotion — yet acutely aware of its contemporary appeal. This can be seen by contrasting the infectious groove of “The Kids Will Be Fine” with the sure-shot hit-appeal of “Send2Me” — which will be seeing a visual treatment this month — and “Margarita” featuring Shvkiel.
The project kicks off with a playful vibe, with “Career Day” — complete with a skit that put us in mind (spiritually) of Kanye’s critically acclaimed debut, College Dropout. The tongue-n-cheek- theme of fuck school take your own path isn’t religiously adhered to (at least in a straight forward sense), but does carry over in the second song, “School Spirit,” which features Ayomari (an artist we’ve had on our radar for a while now).

“I am inspired by a lot of older New Orleans musicians,” he told DNO magazine in an interview. “My mom always took me out of school and brought me to Jazz Fest ever since I can remember … I met Allen Toussaint when I was nine-years-old.”

This impending sense of making his dreams a priority is felt on the album, as is this gloss of smokey grooves that make it immediately likable. With James recently revealing that he is becoming a father this August, there is feeling that things go in full-circle. Jamesville is an encapsulation of his road up to this point; an excellent opportunity to orient yourself for what he has coming next. “I haven’t stopped smiling since Jamesville came out,” James admitted via Instagram. “I hope y’all are enjoying it.”

Continue Reading
interview, Interviews

Madwiz Chats Career Goals & Creative Inspirations: ”One Of My Fave Rappers Is Kool Keith”

When artists say their inspirations include names like Eminem, Biggie, Tupac, or “all the greats,” but their music doesn’t represent…

When artists say their inspirations include names like Eminem, Biggie, Tupac, or “all the greats,” but their music doesn’t represent it at all, it simply comes off as pandering — to us anyways. It’s natural to be a fan of the greats, but we often find ourselves drawn to artists who not only like to explore a bevy of genres but timelessly seek out and draw inspiration from artists that other rappers may not. That’s one thing that drew us to Brooklyn MC Madwiz.

We’re admittedly late to the party, but his latest LP 718-MAD-WIZ is an absolute masterpiece that we’ve been bumping since discovery, and it’s not getting old. It’s this cool eclectic patchwork of samples and vibes; we decided to reach out and learn a little more about his sound — and career trajectory.

“I’ll put it plain and simple for you: I want to be the greatest rapper that ever lived,” he tells AAHH bluntly. The self proclaimed “new sound of Brooklyn” hails the Ohio Players and his favorite band, and Prince as his favorite artist. His biggest inspiration (as far as career direction)? Marvin Gaye.

One time I got in trouble with my pops and he took away my ‘new music privileges’ and I had to start listening to hip hop from scratch,” he explained (low-key making his father sound like the coolest guy ever. “[I listened] from the beginning: Cold Crush, Egyptian Lover, Soul Sonic Force, Newcleus … ’Jam On It’ is still my shit. I had to study until I caught up!”

With such an eclectic array of sounds molding his own, the final layer can be attributed to one of Hip Hop’s most unique figures, the ”Ultramagnetic MC” himself, Kool Keith.

“One of my favorite rappers is Kool Keith. Whoever knows him recognizes he can say the most outlandish shit at times, but I’ll be damned if he ain’t telling the truth when he does,” he notes. “I took pages out of that book and added it to my style … and boom — Madwiz.

“It’s raunchy, it’s sexy, it’s poetic, it’s gangsta, it’s love.”

Having opened for names like Kendrick Lamar and A$AP Ferg, he has more than a few milestones under his belt, but says his biggest career moments are often the result of leveling up. “My biggest accomplishments are whenever I level up creatively… it shows in the reaction when I put shit out.”

This latest album, though, is something he considers to reside amongst his brightest accomplishments. “I evolved significantly from my last joint and the ones before it,” he says proudly. “I thought I was better than lots of these ”MCs” before, but once I saw that come together the way it did … I don’t even doubt. I’m humble though, I’ll talk more shit when I get through the door. Job not done [*Kobe voice.*]”

As he continues the rollout for the project, telling AAHH he has videos planned for every track (we’re looking forward to a visual for “2” featuring Radamiz, btw), Madwiz hopes this music will ultimately resonate amongst the majority of listeners.

“I want the world to agree on something for once … I’m making it so that one thing is the Madwiz discography and whatever it brings,”
he says. “I’m just creating as I go through shit, but above all, I want what everybody else wants. Peace of mind. Let’s find that.”

Continue Reading
interview, Interviews

#Interview: Kaash Paige Talks New Video “Love Songs”

“This song could potentially change my life,” she says.

18-year-old Texas singer Kaash Paige has been popping up on our feed — and playlists — as of late with her infectiously mellow vibes that we, quite frankly, can’t get enough of. After teasing a visual for her new single titled “Love Songs” for the last month or so, she finally releases it yesterday (February 14), with a trippy treatment sure to get you hooked.

“It’s about being infatuated with someone who wants nothing to do with you,” she tells AAHH of the single. “It’s like being stuck on stupid that four letter word, love. “I feel like the catchy hook caught everyone’s ears [thus far] and this song can potentially change my life.

“The visual is the icing on the cake; my friend Matthew and I directed it,” she continues. Basically, it’s me reminiscing on every little thing I used to do with my significant other.”

As Kaash explains, she doesn’t plan on slowing the momentum at all, and if you’re a fan of the vibe, she’s about to get even more mellow.

“I’ve gotten more into acoustics and neo-soul,” she notes, ”so keep rocking with me for the groove.”

Check out Kaash Paige’s “Love Songs,” below.

Continue Reading
More in interview, Main
#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...