Evidence is a
well-known resident of Los Angeles and has been since well before the emergence
of Dilated Peoples in 1992.
Before becoming the producer and rapper we know him most for today, the Venice
Beach native was tagging buildings with the paint-can, spraying the name VANE. The LA group has delivered
four albums to date with a fair number of popular singles, but The Weatherman LP marks the first solo
outing for the producer who's been hard at work over the past few years
crafting tracks for some of the undergrounds elite. Evidence and Rakaa have
always been able to spit enough for a full album and with Babu on the decks, they're unstoppable, but can Ev do it on his own? Working with
a few old friends - Alchemist, Planet
Asia, Rakaa and Defari , and
some new ones - Slug, Little Brother
and Joe Scudda, Evidence hopes to prove his worth as a solo artist with their help.
The album immediately starts off with the uber-soulful "I Know," the chorus of which is slightly off-beat and off-putting, but it still grabs your attention at least for the first song. With his familiar samples and scratches, Evidence keeps the song building and keeps the album moving. The album seems strictly created for the Los Angelinos he's been representing for years, complete with a weather report that calls for rain (hence Weatherman LP), eventually ending with a flood. Evidence has long been known for his slow and monotone flow, which is why the Jay-Z-sampled "Mr. Slow Flow" is perfect for Ev. With production by Sid Roams, the track employs a haunting background beat and a high-pitched church organ steamrolling throughout, Evidence seems most comfortable here, but when it's followed up by the Alchemist track "Letyourselfgo" with Phonte, it's no surprise that some tracks on the album simply don't compare to others. The pairing of Evidence and Alchemist has always led to some quality production, this album is no difference, but now they're both rapping too.
Evidence suffers from what a lot of rappers deal with today, which is the constant repetition of clichéd rhymes. On "20/20" he took Diddy's familiar line, "I don't write rhymes/I write checks," and simply flipped it to "Don't worry if I write checks, I write rhymes," which is somewhat funny considering Diddy's practices of payment for rappers' lyrics is well-known. On "Down in New York City," Evidence blatantly spits the familiar, "If I have to choose a coast/I have to choose the West/I was born in the West/so don't go there," and while the practice of re-using G.O.A.T rhymes for your own albums has been done before by folks like Jay-Z, it comes across like biting rather than an homage here. The bulk of the album is devoted to his mother, whom he lost in 2004 at the height of Dilated Peoples' fame for Neighborhood Watch while on tour with Kanye West. When Evidence left the group mid-tour to be with his mother, she suddenly passed away two weeks later, after which Evidence had to decide whether he could continue with music. Evidence fell into a deep depression and much of this album is affected as a result, but tracks like "Chase the Clouds Away" and "Perfect Storm" showcase the strengths of a group that has such a rabid West Coast following.
Overall, the album has a good number of standout tracks that will interest a majority of the independent Hip Hop fans, especially the Alchemist and Slug tracks, where Evidence seems at his most honest and most hungry. On the tracks that Evidence crafted as a dedication to his mother you can hear the determination to succeed in his voice; if not for himself, then for her looking down upon him. His rhymes may not be a work of scripture, but he tirelessly worked to put together his solo masterpiece and with solid guest appearances and quality production the album is definitely worth your time. If the albums success were solely based on the production or simple intrinsic music value, there's no doubt in my mind that The Weatherman LP would be on the near the top of 2007 lists; his rhymes alone are still better than his previous efforts and are certainly eons beyond Yung Joc or Mims. While being known as a rapper/producer comes with the stigma that you may not be skilled in either respect, Evidence is clearly adept at both; although his lyrics need work, he wears the title well in that respect.