Evidence (Dilated Peoples) [Interview]
Los Angeles , CA – There comes a time when an artist becomes filled to the brim with emotion. A time when the artist has to say to himself, “Stop… It’s time”. This is the case of Michael Perretta, better known as Evidence, 1/3 of the Los Angeles based group Dilated Peoples. While on tour with Kanye West to support the 2004 release of Neighborhood Watch, Evidence received a phone call that would change his life forever. He left the tour immediately and his mother’s sudden death two weeks later propelled him into a depressive state that made him seriously contemplate his career. He needed to make his solo album.
With that being said, he comes forth with a solid piece of music entitled The Weatherman released on ABB Records. I spoke with Evidence about the creative process, and what the future holds for him now that he has got that all off his chest. Peep it:
HipHopCanada: What’s poppin’ Ev?
Evidence: What’s up man?
HipHopCanada: What up’s with you… Big things these days?
Evidence: Everything is going very well. I can’t complain. I’m very happy.
HipHopCanada: First. I want to talk about the new album. Let’s get that out of the way. The new album is really different then the Dilated stuff and by that I mean that it’s real personal.
Evidence: Yeah, it was time. It took about 8-months to make the record but this was like 7-8 years of built up emotion. It’s such a great blessing to be in a group situation that I’m in with Dilated Peoples because we were individual members who came together to form a group. Rakaa and me initially and then Babu came into the fold later. We called our first album The Platform because that’s really what it was. It was like this is where we stand figuratively and literally. We’re broadcasting to the world and the differences in our personalities come through. Raaa has the political views; I’m known for wilding out at the shows, my punchlines and metaphors and they know Babu for being one of the sharpest in the world. It’s real dope for me to have that opportunity right now to step out and just show the people who I am as an individual. A lot of times, when you’re in a group, people will recognize you and say, “Oh, that’s that guy from that group” so for me to have this opportunity right now is a blessing because I can let people into my life and just give them all of me.
HipHopCanada: Did the group understand when you approached them with ideas of a solo album?
Evidence: Well we always knew it was coming. When we signed to EMI/Capitol our contract stated that if we wanted to do solo albums they had first writer refusal of the album. Being signed on a label already, you’re not going to be thrilled about doing a solo album and giving them the right to put that out and be in charge of your career. What we had to do was wait our contract out. Right after we were done touring for the 20/20 album I immediately jumped in the studio to make this album. Rakaa is recording his solo called Crown Of Thorns and Babu is doing Duck Season 3 so we’re all showing who we are as individuals.
HipHopCanada: So you dropped your album on ABB Records. There was no resigning with Capitol?
Evidence: No, it was really important for me to be independent right now and do it the way I wanted to do it. Not clear samples or anything; just really put that shit out that I dreamed about doing. I don’t think I could’ve put this album out on a major so it’s dope just to have the opportunity to put it out like this. There is no middleman; I talk to the people directly. Because of that, however, you’re going to see a small lack of promotion compared to the promotion you get being on a major but that’s just one thing. This is just a great opportunity right now.
HipHopCanada: I think that’s what Dilated fans like. You guys aren’t so major. I mean, there was a tipping scale with those joints with Kanye but I think fans of Dilated like that you guys are underground and the skills speak for themselves.
Evidence: We’ve always done us but I think we are one of the few groups that remain independent on a major label. We always kept our mentality, networked with people, didn’t burn bridges or fuck up relationships like a lot of these other cats have done. It’s not like we walked away and said, “Let’s go and use the underground now”. It’s not like that because we never left. I think people respect that if nothing else. People see these dudes who signed to a major label and they were themselves anyway. It’s not easy to do that after 4 albums; a lot of people change. We did that song with Kanye and it was such a great record in my opinion. But of course there’s the backlash from certain people who once get a chance to digest the record, then say, “You know I like that record”. Time rules everything and sometimes, initial reaction is scattered, but a lot of people usually come around… especially with Dilated.
HipHopCanada: Well music is changing all the time.
HipHopCanada: Right now you have the singles “Mr. Slow Flow” for the A-side and “Hot and Cold” featuring The Alchemist on the B-side. Who came up with the concept for “Mr. Slow Flow”? The music and the video?
Evidence: That was my concept pretty much. I wanted to play “Spit” from Beat Street. I always loved Beat Street and Ramo doing his little pieces but I always loved the grimey dude too. The one that went out in the middle of the night and dissed everyone’s shit and did wild stuff and then he died at the end getting electrocuted from the train tracks. I wanted the bad guy to win and throw a tag up on Capitol Records sort of like, “Fuck the Industry”.
HipHopCanada: Yeah, that’s a very heavy track.
Evidence: Yeah, Sid Roams produced it and the cuts are DJ Revolution, the sharpest guy on the planet. A lot of people asked me why Joey Chavez isn’t on my album but he is. Sid Roams is made up of Joey Chavez and Bravo; they just started a production team.
HipHopCanada: And Alchemist has always been there for you?
Evidence: Always, since high school; we grew up together, used to get in trouble together; high school shit. That’s been my homie before music. I always said I didn’t like making music with strangers and you can tell we’re not estranged from the collaborations.
HipHopCanada: On something different, I also heard you trained with the Gracie Family out in Cali. How long have you been training with the Gracies for?
Evidence: I’ve been training for 4 years with the Gracies. Rakaa, my partner, has been doing it for almost 7 years. He got me into it and it’s a getaway for me mentally and physically. Best thing you could do for yourself; walk down the street with confidence and handle yourself in a situation as a man.
HipHopCanada: So how do you think the world has embraced the new album so far compared to California embracing you? Has LA always been there for you?
Evidence: It’s pretty amazing to be honest with you. The Weatherman up here has been a great success including anything in the history of Dilated related projects. I mean, it got 4 Mics in The Source, an XL in X XL Magazine, 4 ½ in URB and 4 ½ in Scratch Magazine. It’s the craziest shit! I get so excited about it every time. I’m like a little kid because I put my heart into it and for someone to actually give me props means so much to me. The past comes up about my mother and I was worried that people wouldn’t feel it and seeing that I’m getting all this love worldwide is such a blessing. L.A. always shows me love. I’m very fortunate as an artist to get love in my own town, because I know a lot of L.A. artists who don’t have that.
HipHopCanada: I wanted to ask you some personal questions about the passing of your mother. Was that something that you had to get out before moving forward?
Evidence: Well I did it for the 20/20 album and it just wasn’t right for a Dilated people’s album. That was really why I wanted to do my solo album. I dedicated the whole album to my moms.
HipHopCanada: You recorded “I Still Love You” by yourself?
Evidence: I did the beat and I recorded it by myself on Christmas. I was very lonely all by myself. It was hard to do it, setting the mic angle and everything else. All the recording was done by me. I was very nervous about doing it. Nothing could come close to that.
HipHopCanada: Would you ever do a benefit for Cancer Research?
Evidence: I was going to do a benefit called “Fuck Cancer” that Rakaa did but I was out of town at the time. I mean my Mom died of cancer and my mom’s father had cancer. He has survived with it for 15 years now and he’s very healthy. It’s just something that’s always been around. You hear people talking about AIDS these days, but cancer has always been there. I feel blessed I can live my life out. There is a time when I can help people and I’m bust a lot, but if someone hollered I would definitely help out.
HipHopCanada: God bless. Tell me what a day for Evidence is like.
Evidence: Well it’s fucked up because there’s Evidence at home, Evidence on the road with Dilated, and Evidence doing promotion. It’s all very different. A day at my home is more based around production. I’ll get up, get coffee immediately, and have my little walk in the morning because Starbucks is right there. Then I go back home, smoke a lot of weed and just fall into the zone with beats and more coffee. Then I come out of this little cloud at about 2 or 3 in the afternoon if I actually have something to show for it.
HipHopCanada: You’re on the West Side of things. What strains are you feeling’ these days? What are you smoking’ these days?
Evidence: We have the best weed on the planet. You can talk to me as long as you want but I’m not going to hear you. I’ve been everywhere and I’ve smoked everyone’s shit and O.G. Kush created in Los Angeles, created in the Valley will beat anything, anywhere on Earth. There’s good weed, tasty stuff, but hands down California has the best chronic ever.
HipHopCanada: You know we have this little place up here; you might have heard about it. It’s called British Columbia.
Evidence: Yeah, yeah. I’ve been there plenty of times. B.C. weed is great but it’s all mass-produced green shit. I’m sure the real growers in B.C. could pass me a jar of some real good shit but every time I go there I don’t see anything that competes with California. You have to understand, I’m connected out there. I run with Swollen; I run with a lot of good people in Canada.
HipHopCanada: Let me ask you this. If you had to communicate in one way, be it production or rhyming, which would you choose?
Evidence: I’d probably stick with producing just because I see more longevity in it. Right now, I love the expression of being a rapper because I think words are so powerful and if you place them correctly I think it’s the best way to connect. I have something to say right now so I’d say I’m about 65% rapper and 35% producer. These are numbers that I think are going to change within the next 5 years.
HipHopCanada: As far as production goes, what’s new for you? What’s coming up?
Evidence: I’ve been working with Alchemist. I’ve been producing my own stuff and getting ready to do my production album, sort of like an Alchemist beat album, so I’m doing that. I actually took on some new drum machines and am re-strategizing my own sound, which is why I really haven’t been putting much out. I don’t really hand out beat tapes; if someone wants to hook up with me then it’s just naturally going to happen.
HipHopCanada: Who you feeling right now?
Evidence: Everyone on my album. I’m feeling Jadakiss (Lox) right now, Pusha T (Clipse), Alchemist and I like everything that all my homies are involved with. It’s a crazy thing but I’m feeling my friends a lot more than I am feeling the people that I’m trying to fuck with.
HipHopCanada: Anything to say to the people?
Evidence: Yeah, I just want to let them know that The Weatherman is out and I’m on my grind. I hope everyone feels what I bring. I don’t know where it’s going to lead me but if I look in the right place, I’ll be there.
Editor’s note: For more information on Evidence, please visit http://www.dilatedpeoples.com and http://www.myspace.com/dilatedpeoples. Also, be sure to check out the brand new DVD from the Dilated fam called Dilated Peoples – The Release Party DVD which is a feature film with a bonus CD. The CD includes “The Release Party”, “Spit It Clearly” featuring The Alchemist, “Mr. Slow Flow” Remix featuring PMD, Rakaa (Iriscience) and Babu with “Expansion Team Soundsystem”, “Olde English” Remix featuring Defari, “Hot and Cold” Remix featuring Casual and last but not least, the “Eyes Have It” Remix”. The Release Party is 10 years in the making. Follow Evidence, Rakaa (Iriscience) and Babu as captured by long time friend and collaborator Jason Goldwatch. Witness first hand, the ups and downs of the music industry through the eyes of the band. How did the “anti-everything”, left-of-center group end up on a major label? What got them there? And finally, what freed them from the major label system? Dilated Peoples spills their guts and takes it back to basics, once again breathing new life into Independent hip-hop.
Interview by Stepfather for HipHopCanada