"Not every beat you make is gonna be that one that a person comes over and picks," Evidence says of his recently released Green Tape Instrumentals project. "Sometimes you make something that sounds like more of an interlude or you make something that sounds like not a beat that you would put on a beat tape to shop, so to speak. What I've found is that sometimes people like those beats."
This has proven to be a solid strategy for Evidence's series of instrumental releases. Green Tape, the fourth in the series, was released this week (June 24) on Decon Records. But for Evidence's fans, the releases have also provided insight into the creative process behind his work as a producer.
"Even though they may not be your favorite beats or the ones that everyone picked, there's still some personality to them and they're still part of your creation or evolution," he adds, explaining the tapes. "So I bottled up a bunch of those and I made Yellow Tape. People liked it. Then, I also put out instrumentals for songs that might've come out on a 12-inch but the instrumental was never released or something like that, or a beat that I did on some one's album but the instrumental never came out. You know, Alchemist was doing the same thing. It was just whatever. But then people liked it so I did another one like that, Red, and then Purple and now, Green."
The Green Tape, in particular, has songs on it that you may not get from Evidence in 2013. However, he still sees it as a part of his growth.
"The Green one is probably like - I don't know - I put more songs on it than usual because there were a bunch of missteps when I was trying to learn Reason, which is a software program. I came up on the [Ensoniq] ASR-10, which is hardware and then the [Akai] MPC, which is hardware. And then, somewhere around 2007 or '08, or '06, I started messin' with Reason a little bit, trying out software and making beats."
Evidence Talks Production For Vince Staples, Sean Price & Action Bronson
Making beats has allowed Evidence to venture out, working with several artists both seasoned and new. One of those artists is Vince Staples.
"Outside of this, I have a lot of current beats that are representing where I am currently. Stuff on Green Tape is old. Like I said, I still think it has personality but that's not a reflection of where I am today. Where I am today is working with a lot of new cats and a lot of people I came up with, as long as the energy is good," Evidence adds before speaking on his collaborative work with Staples.
"Vince Staples is dope. I didn't really try to hook up with him. I just met him at Alchemist's crib one day and we caught a vibe," he shares. "It's crazy. It's kind of like he's molding the sound of his album around it a little bit, which is great. I love when stuff like that happens naturally. I'll keep working with him."
Staples, a California upstart also making headlines for his work with Mac Miller of late, is not the only artist Evidence enjoys from the crop of new rappers making a name for themselves on the left coast.
"[Vince] just got a crazy voice. Real cut throat. [He's from the] Long Beach /Compton area so it's dope to hear his story. I like him. I like Aston Mathews. I like Joey Fatts. I like that whole Cut Throat Crew and what those dudes from Long Beach are doing."
But, Ev makes it known that he's also been working with veterans, such as Sean Price.
"I throw beats out and they land in different places," he says of his process. "I just produced "BBQ Sauce" which was the latest single from Sean Price's album. I don't think about it so much. I just do a bunch of work and then throw stuff out there and then what happens, happens. I just did a beat for Action Bronson but where it comes out? I don't know. You know what I mean? Stuff like that. It's dope to work just to work."
Evidence On LMNO's "After The Fact" & Diamond Supply Co. Collaboration
But beyond just producing, Evidence, who recently became a Suggested User on Instagram, has also been clear about expanding, bringing his love of photography into the fold. This has been especially true on his collaborative album with LMNO, After the Fact, due later this year on Up Above Records.
"I just produced a whole album for LMNO, which is pretty exciting. It's coming out on September 10 on Up Above [Records]. We just got distribution for that. It was going to come out at the end of July but we pushed it back a bit so we could actually get physical copies pressed because there was a nice buzz around it. That's pretty exciting for him....I did the picture for the front of it and the inside, which was dope. That's cool, to expand and try that out a little bit. So, I shot the cover and all the inside pictures. It's not real complex but I like the pictures."
In fact, expanding in this manner has also allowed Evidence to team up with Diamond Supply Co. on a new series of shirts which feature his photographs.
"I just got a collaboration coming with Diamond, which is dope. We've been talking about it for years. He [Nicky Diamonds] picked a bunch of images and he made a shirt with a montage of a bunch of them. Then, we're gonna do three other shirts with different images and then maybe a couple of little surprises to come with it."
Evidence Says Step Brothers' Lord Steppington Is A "Breath Of Fresh Air"
Fans can be sure that music is still Evidence's priority. He's been steadily working on two different group projects this year. First up is his upcoming album with longtime friend and collaborator Alchemist, Lord Steppington. The Step Brothers debut will be out via Rhymesayers later in 2013. Ev's also back in the lab with DJ Babu and Rakaa Iriscience for the upcoming Dilated Peoples project, which will also be released by Rhymesayers. Their album has no set release date at the moment.
However, fans shouldn't expect the same thing from those projects. Instead, as Ev notes, the two albums have allowed him to explore different aspects of himself as an emcee.
"They're really different. They're like 180's from each other. Dilated [Peoples] is intricate for a number of reasons. I can get into that but Step Brothers is fun because, I've gone through a lot as far as being deep and showing who I am and just being honest through my life, I've had some ups and downs," he shares of his past solo work. According to him, the Step Brothers record will be a "breath of fresh air."
"That's how fresh of a record this is to me. I don't have to be deep. I can rap about shit that doesn't even make sense to me. You know? It's like a big breath of fresh air for me because I can do whatever I want. There's no parameters. Okay, the chorus is no good? Take it off. No chorus. Fine. The song's six minutes? Dope. The song's two minutes? Dope. There's just no rules. For that reason alone, the album is fresh. And we have an undeniable chemistry, no pun intended. I look up to him creatively and as a person. You can hear that and I think it's somewhat mutual."
Evidence Explains Dilated Peoples' Progress On "Directors Of Photography"
"Dilated is completely different," he clarifies. "We're stepping in dangerous territory in doing this Dilated record. I've seen groups that have successful pasts come back after a number of years and fuck up. Years go by and nobody kind of cares. How much you want me to talk about it or not talk about it, I can, but the bottom line is it's not coming out until this shit is right. Right now, we're really starting to get in a zone that I've been waiting to get into. It's hard to just say, 'We're gonna all make music now and just because we did it in the past, it's gonna be good now!' It's just not that kind of thing. So, we've been challenging ourselves and getting back in shape lyrically. I don't mean we've stopped rapping because we've been doing it every year, solo and as a unit, whether we're on stage or not. But making a record is a different kind of thing and our chemistry just needs to be tight. When you're in a group, you gotta start thinking more like one person, getting into that zone where things start to become unanimous without a fight and if there is a fight, it's good dialogue and it leads to building. I think it's coming good. I'm just being honest with myself. I'm not gonna lie to myself. When I feel it's right - which I feel like we're getting close to that now - we'll bottle it up and put it out."
When they put Directors Of Photography out, it will likely be more than seven years after their last, 2006's 20/20. But Evidence says the group is working to make sure it's "right" for their fans before it's bottled up.
"With Dilated, it's not just me right now. I've had as long a solo career as I've had as a group [member]. We put out our first album [The Platform] in 2000 and our last album in 2006 and then a solo career from 2006 to 2012. You know what I mean? So, I've definitely evolved as a human and as a rapper and stuff. Then, how do I bring that into the group? How does Rakaa do the same? But the good of it is that we have been doing shows every year. We have been featured on each other's records. We have been building thoughts and ideas off each other for years. It's not like we're just - like I was saying before, sometimes people get together because they're broke. You know? '[The] tax guy's calling and it's time to make a record.' You put it out and it's not what it was. [When] artists don't love each other the same, it's obvious. It's not easy to cheat the people like that."
Evidence Says He Has Next Solo Album "Mapped Out"
Of course, Evidence also has a solo career to work on. According to Ev, the next solo steps have already been planned.
"I already got that mapped out," he states. "I already know what it's gonna be. I already knew what it was gonna be. I already knew my first album was gonna be The Weatherman. On Weatherman, I said, 'It's raining Cats & Dogs' because I knew that was gonna be the next one. Then, the next one, I already know what it's gonna be. The problem is that with social media and running my mouth too much, too early or whatever, fans will be like, 'You said it, so where is it at?' I can't do that."
Lord Steppington, Directors of Photography and Evidence's next solo project will all be released on Rhymesayers Entertainment. Evidence released his last album, Cats & Dogs, on RSE as well. His latest instrumental disc, Green Tape Instrumentals, came out this week (June 25) on Decon.
RELATED: Evidence Speaks On Soundset, Dilated Peoples, & His Passion For Photography [2012 INTERVIEW]