Evidence: Indy Or Major?

posted July 13, 2007 12:00:00 AM CDT | 26 comments

Some of the best music to come from hip-hops underground is from the California trio Dilated Peoples. Dilated Peoples are dope for the fact that each man in the group brought something unique to the table and consistently gave fans music to appreciate. With the raw production from DJ Babu and the lyrical stylings courtesy of Rakaa and Evidence, Dilated Peoples went on to release four albums under Capitol Records since 2000. Though they didnt reach much mainstream success, any real fan of hip-hop can respect the music Dilated Peoples gave us with The Platform (2000), Expansion Team (2001) Neighborhood Watch (2001), and 20/20 (2006). While they are no longer with Capitol Records group member Evidence went on to release his first solo album a year later which is the critically acclaimed The Weatherman.

Though Dilated Peoples is still a group, Evidence always had thoughts of putting together a solo project of his own. In the past year though, Ev has been through some tough things which included the unfortunate passing of his mother. It just so happened that one day while in the crib he came across an old track that Dialated collaborator Alchemist gave him which came to be the emotional Chase The Clouds Away and pushed him to get on his solo grind. HipHopDX.com's Quinton Hatfield or Q THA ?uestion caught up with the weatherman recently on how he feels about the success of his new album, the history of Dilated Peoples with Capitol Records, the meaning behind Chase The Clouds Away, and the pros and cons of being signed to an major or independent label.

HHDX: First off I want to ask you how feel about the fans loving The Weatherman album right now?
: Its a blessing man, its a complete blessing. I didnt really know what to expect. Its the first time I did a solo record (and) Ive been wanting to do it for a long time, but the fact that it actually happen is such a blessing. At a certain point you just gotta let go of your music and play it our there for the world. Its like a child - you raised this kid and at a certain point you gotta let it go off to school or you gotta stop being afraid to leave him home at night by himself. Its just my project and I let it go and it came back wonderful so Im grateful for that everyday.

HHDX: You're respected as an MC in hip-hop as everybody know you got skills, but why did you take so long to come out with a solo album?
: I always wanted to do a solo record but Dilated Peoples was first and foremost the most important thing. We did a deal with Capitol Records in 2000 and we did it not really thinking about it. It basically tied us up as solo artists as well to the deal. If I wanted to be a solo artists for Capitol I had to sign up for five albums on top of my five albums that Im already signed for which is crazy. Im not doing that for nobody, ten albums at a label is not good. I had to be patient and wait for the Dilated contract to get out and thats exactly what I did. In 2006 we dropped 20/20 and I was a free agent. I got in the studio immediately, and focused on stuff I needed to speak on. I put it on beats which is my album The Weatherman LP.

HHDX: Were you disappointed at a lot of stuff that went down at Capitol as far as Dilated Peoples?
: Nah, Im not here to be bitter about anything, everything is for a reason. A lot of great things happened (and) I rather focus on those. I always look at it like Rakaa always said There is a lot of good people with no power and a lot of powerful people who are no good [laughs] so that definitely sums it up at Capitol. Its been a few people that did a lot of good things for us, but Im just pleased with the future Im not here to look back on what I done.

HHDX: How you feel about the success of the last Dilated Peoples album?
: As far as sales its our worst selling album to date, as far as quality I think it might be our best. People need to understand that its a lot of things that go on behind the scenes that directly results in the push of our last album. We were leaving our label, we were not doing another album with them and everyone knew that. They really didnt invest marketing dollars into the new project to make it sell. Sales are generated on how much you ship and how they pay in retail and other things like that. If they're not gonna spend and people arent gonna order its that simple. We sold through what we shipped (and) its amazing, but I dont think any label is gonna invest in something thats not there anymore. That was the direct result of Capitol and the 20/20 album with Dilated Peoples.

HHDX: So with The Weatherman LP, were you happy with the fact that you got to make a lot of decisions on your own being independent?
Evidence: Yeah its beautiful, it was a different experience. Im used to being a team player working in a group. Having to do everything on your own can be a little hectic if you dont step back from the painting sometimes and look at what you're creating. Thats why I had Alchemist executive produce it, my manager Brock and just a bunch of good people around me to put me in the right direction. Not everything I recorded made the album you know, but I think we shaped it well, cut the fat off and made the right decisions. It was a beautiful thing for me to be in charge of the project I loved that. Financially it could always be better, but thats why Im out here grinding.

HHDX: I was reading about you in XXL and the song you did with the Alchemist Chase The Clouds Away so how did that track gave you motivation to record this LP?
: It was an Alchemist track that was just been sitting around for a long time and after my mother passed away I was in a different head spin that I ever was before. That beat just came up one morning when I was cleaning my crib getting everything straight and I put that CD in and I found the beat so I was like Oh. I wasnt even listening to it like that, because I was in a whole different place. I heard it for what it was and the sample was saying I must be happy so I kind of flipped like Ice Cubes Today Was a Good Day like "fuck it Im happy today." It was still being (me) and showing a different side of you and thats exactly what I did. I was opening it up to people to see what a day it is to be like me and it aint gotta be all on some bullshit.

HHDX: To be honest thats the best song on the album.
: Good looking out.

HHDX: Im sorry that your mother passed not too long ago, but that give you more motivation to record a successful album?
: Ive been nervous about touching on this topic, because thats really giving all of me out. I never really had the opportunity to do that before and with topics like this its something thats really that happened. I would give anything in the world ten times over to have her back and not have to write that song, but at a certain point I was like Is this something I just keep for me to know I did it or do I share it with the world. Possibly having some journalist say its not a good song you know what I mean, its such a touchy thing or Do I perform this? put it on my album? I really didnt know what to do with it, but to have the opportunity to have my own album it was like Oh okay I can do this here, this is more appropriate than a Dilated one. I made that during 20/20 and I was like "I cant put that on this album, because it just doesnt fit." Having this out gave me the opportunity to do that, I dont wanna say it made me more hungry I would love in not having to do that, but I think it was the best thing I couldve done for myself. Its so many people out there that are going through the similar things that I am that can relate to it. I forgot that other people have lives that share similar things into what Im going through it was definitely the right thing for me to do and Im happy.

HHDX: Why you title they album The Weatherman?
: You know, its a nickname I had for a longtime and its kind of just going against the grain in the picture of my album, the picture of California, but thats not how people see it. Its just not the side people focus on, thats what my album is about the misconceptions of southern California. With the rain of Evidence, so to speak, its showing you a different side.

HHDX: Can you tell people why you call yourself Evidence?
: Its just a name I had for a longtime just like the graffiti or something. Names pop up and you keep one, because you like what it stands for and what it represents. Definitely no proof without evidence.

HHDX: Back to what your doing, hows the touring coming along?
: Its beautiful go to myspace.com/evidence always look for new tour dates, Im doing a lot of shows with Dilated this summer. This year is gonna be crazy, we got a lot of stuff coming up, a whole headline of U.S. tours is being booked right now.

HHDX: Evidence what you loving most about hip-hop right now?
: The fact that me and my peoples that I grew up with are all part of it and making a difference in it. Not just being fans of it, but were actually playing a role in it and thats amazing.

HHDX: Can you tell people how yall came up with the name Dilated Peoples?
: The Alchemist came up with that name. We were just throwing around titles and Rakaa had a company called Expanding Peoples for a group named Growing Students. Alchemist looked at that was like "thats alright, but what about Dilated Peoples?" that sounded kind of ill so we kept it.

HHDX: Working with the Alchemist what is it that makes yall chemistry so good?
: Were just friends before music. When we hang out we create music, because we do it all the time not just because its time to make a record. You can hear that at the end of the day, we do that shit because we would be doing it regardless. Weve had odd jobs, we came home, meet up, and did this shit so it only makes sense at the end of the day. Many people that make music just do it when its time to put a record out, I just do this shit regardless and thats why it sounds good.

HHDX: A lot of people are signed to majors, whats better major or independent?
: Music is way better on the independent level because you can just do what you want to do. Its always that group that makes that great independent record and then they get signed up and make that bullshit album on a major, because they felt the pressure. Music is always most raw in independent form, major is good for exposure as far as being able to walk down the street. People recognize you, show money is up because of the amount thats invested in you. Independent is dope, because its like if you work hard you gonna make money and sell records. Majors give you a bunch of money up front, putting that shit in your pocket and whether you do good or done great you made money [laughs]. Dilated, we have four of those, four albums worth of those so its beautiful for my bank. Ill tell you though that a lot of stress went into to that as well. Right now Im just happy to be on the independent side, if I stay on my grind and people show love showing up Ill end up earning my money, its dope being independent.

HHDX: So for an upcoming MC you would tell them independent is the way to go right?
: Definitely, especially to start out. The major shit is rough, theyll let you do you for a minute, but when they start molding the shape its never the same. Its like that crack fiend tryna chase that high he got for the first time - its not gonna happen again. Its good to be loved on the label as an artist, but its only for a limited period of time. Its never a short thing, dont make too close friends with people at the label. Their jobs are at stake and your ass is on the line all the time. That shit is real, it comes and goes, its like a revolving door. Get it if its now, if you have the attitude like "I dont even know if Im gonna be living a year from now", why no? If thats the attitude you living by, Ill back that up for you a 100%. Some people think long term, some people think short term, but aint nothing wrong just make it yours either which way you do it. Dont deviate from the past you envisioned, because you got these so-called experts implementing their ideas. Just always remember what your vision was.

HHDX: Is that the reason why a lot of major artists go through the sophomore slump?
: Definitely. The first album - it took you your whole life to make that shit. Sitting on songs for six years, performing around the world crowd-tested approved, its that shit. When the second comes around you start from scratch literally and you gotta make it in six months. Thats why that jinx shit keeps happening to a lot of people.

HHDX: How you feel when people say a lot of majors be jerking people?
: Yeah, a lot of independents be jerking people too [laughs]. That shit is real either way man [laughs].

HHDX: [Laughs] I feel you on that. So I see Evidence knows a lot about the biz being in the game so long.
: Oh I know about the business, first hand experience.

HHDX: Is it possible we're going to get another Dilated Peoples album?
Evidence: 2008 its going down.

HHDX: Whats next up for Evidence and you have anything to say to the readers of HIPHOPDX.COM?
: Yeah. Look for the Mr. Slow Flow remix with PMD and Rakaa, the Let Yourself Go remix featuring Phonte which is crazy. Look forward to a Dilated Peoples DVD dropping July 31. Also look for anything Dilated affiliated, we got a lot of good stuff coming man.

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