Self-Evident Truths: Evidence of Dilated Peoples [Interview]
Vancouver, B.C. – Let’s just call him Evidence. Sure, he’s coming back to Vancouver on April 22 as part of the socially-grounded Dilated Peoples crew, but he’s also had the guts to start from scratch as an independent embodiment of his own ideals, artistic styles and lyrical venting. The upcoming release of Cats & Dogs on Rhymesayers will cement this independence, but already one can see his personality shine through in all he does – take, for example, I Don’t Need Love, a Beatles-sampled tape that he released spontaneously and independently through his Twitter account. HipHopCanada’s Amalia Judith had a tete-a-tete with the intense and intelligent rapper who was fresh off the stage and, in his own words, “sweating like an Italian.”
“What is my message? Being true to myself and projecting…my personality so when you talk to me you still feel like you’re dealing with the same person you’re listening to…”
HipHopCanada: How would you describe your own musical style?
Evidence: Heartfelt, weed-influenced, overspoken, annunciated, definitely trying to get a message across whether I’m saying nothing and trying to showcase skills, or whether I actually have a message. I wanna be present, a lot of eye contact, a lot of selling the dream cause I believe it myself.
HipHopCanada: What’s your musical background?
Evidence: Well I just came up in a house full of music. My mother’s a photographer and my father’s a pretty good partier, wilin’-out type of dude, and I just came up as the centre of attention in my family, only child. I learned raps early, like “The Message,” and I used to go rap for my whole family, so before I even had a message I was presenting other peoples’ messages because I believed in what they were saying. When I finally figured out that I could write my own words and verbally present it, it made that much more sense to me.
HipHopCanada: So what is your own message that you want to convey?
Evidence: What is my message? Being true to myself and projecting, whether it’s in my actions – how I walk down the street, how I carry myself, or whether I’m actually saying something on the mic or a beat I might make – I just want it to radiate my personality so when you talk to me you still feel like you’re dealing with the same person you’re listening to.
HipHopCanada: What do you feel you still don’t know, that you’re searching for?
Evidence: I don’t know a lot of things. I know I don’t know shit. I thought a knew a lot a couple of years ago and now looking back on it realized I didn’t. I’m 33 and I think I’m very youthful for that age, very youthful.
HipHopCanada: You’ve got a pretty strong solo career going on right now, where does that leave Dilated Peoples?
Evidence: I’m the most proud of Dilated, I wear that right on my sleeve, everything I do is Dilated. Rakaa and I are two MCs that come from different sides of the city that came together to form a group, later bringing Babu into the fold. We’re really a bunch of individulas who came together to form something that’s really bigger than any of us as individuals, and that’s what I feel like we did. If you look on the liner notes for Expansion Team which is our second album from 2001 it says “look out for our solo album coming soon”. It just didn’t happen because of contracts and certain legalities that we couldn’t jump through because of loopholes but as soon as we got off Capitol in 2006 I rushed to do it because it’s something I’ve always wanted to do. I really feel like I needed an outlet to vent, and I didn’t feel like putting it on a record and burdening Rakaa and Babu. I told myself, if I’m gonna be Evidence and do solo stuff, I can’t be Evidence of Dilated Peoples. That’s showing me that I’m not fully stepping out and maximizing my potential. I don’t say Ghostface Killah of Wu-Tang Clan, I don’t say Raekwon of Wu-Tang Clan, I just say Raekwon and Ghostface. So my goal was to make it to just Evidence if I could, and that meant not doing Dilated songs, that meant not relying on everything that I built but stripping it down and starting over like everyone else would. So I give myself a lot of credit for having the humility to do that ten years deep in my career; I’ve seen other people try it and their ego gets in the way and they can’t do it.
HipHopCanada: You’ve been on a Beatles groove lately, where did that come from?
Evidence: It’s my mom’s favorite group and I was having a creative block and my homie Twiz was in LA and I was in Italy and he was trying to submit beats for my Cats and Dogs album which was pretty much done, so I sent him a Beatles sample and said, why don’t you flip this for me, it’ll be interesting, I don’t know where it’s gonna go. And so he flipped “Because” by the Beatles and it became the first thing I did for this I Don’t Need Love tape. And really just because I was having a writers block and I had a lot of rhymes in my iPhone that I didn’t have a home for, so I figured I’d make the Beatles shit right now and empty my iPhone of all the shit that I didn’t have a home to say. I did it pretty much in nine days and put it out on my birthday without telling anybody and just put a link on my Twitter page. And I think in an era of so much information and artists being able to promote themselves and it’s so exaggerated there’s something to be said for somebody not promoting shit, just putting it out for the people who can find it, some treasure hunt shit. People found it and have been really receptive to it. Not the mention it’s the Beatles so I could never sell any of it.
HipHopCanada: Let’s end with your favorite Beatles song…
Evidence: “I am the Walrus,” just because I was so intrigued by it when I was young and at the end I never knew what they said and I always asked my mom what they said and I think I was about six when she said, “Michael, they’re saying ‘pot, pot, everybody smoke pot.’” I don’t know if it’s correct but there’s a rumor that that’s what it says.
Interview and photography by Amalia Judith for HipHopCanada
Check out Fashawn and Evidence’s shout-out to HHC in Vancouver!