Weather or Not: Evidence talks new LP, art, Swollen Members & more
I was going to fill this piece with weather related puns and idioms but figured that was a bit too predictable. So I decided to take a rain check on that… Ok, I’m done.
But veteran Cali rapper and producer Michael Perretta, aka Evidence, has kept the theme going strong through his acclaimed Weatherman series. The Weatherman LP was released in 2007, and then followed by 2011’s Cats & Dogs, which was 3 years in the making and won the 2011 Hip Hop Underground (HHUG) Best Album of the Year award.
Weather or Not, the final installment in the series, was released through Rhymesayers Entertainment on Jan. 26 and features 16-tracks powered by a handful of legendary producers, including Ev himself. The total list includes DJ Premier, The Alchemist on four records, Nottz, fellow Dilated Peoples member DJ Babu, Twiz the Beat Pro, Samiyam and Budgie.
Alchemist, who released the collaborative Lord Steppington album with Evidence back in 2014, is also featured on the song “Sell Me This Pen,” which he produced. Other artists on the project include, in order of appearance, Slug (Atmosphere), Catero, Defari, Krondon, Mach Homy, Styles P, Rapsody, Khrysis, Jonwayne and Dilated’s own, Rakaa Iriscience.
While the second and third installments of trilogies often fail to live up to the original (think The Godfather Part III), this is definitely not the case with Weather or Not. The project is some of Evidence’s best work to date and his fanbase has been flooding his pages with similar feedback.
One fan put it nicely on the project’s Bandcamp page, where you can stream the entire album:
“I’ve been a fan of EV since 2000 when I was in HS and first listened to DILATED. I’ve always enjoyed EV’s solo stuff. My favorite of his solo releases was his first solo–the weather man (MR SLOW FLOW!). I wasn’t as impressed w/ the last one. But man, this album is sick! It has really grown on me. I enjoy it more every time I listen to it. If you are a dilated fan, do yourself a favor and get this now!”
Another was having a hard time picking their favourite cut off the project:
“These tracks are so relateable. The production is on point. I can’t pick a favorite track. Depends on where I’m at, at the time. Definitely putting on for the West. Definitely putting on for Hip-Hop. Solid artist!!!”
That quote actually adds weight to the very first answer Evidence gave me in our brief Q&A session. I was hoping to figure out which album cut really spoke to him the most, but he held his cards fairly tight.
Along with some questions about the album, we asked about a variety of subjects including the likelihood of seeing a new Dilated Peoples project, and whether there was a followup to Lord Steppington in the works. He also touches on his work with Swollen Members, his photography, Donald Trump, Eminem’s BET Awards freestyle directed at Trump, and more.
Weather or Not is available on Apple Music and other digital outlets.
Evidence is currently touring Canada with Slug (Atmosphere) and the next show is tonight inside Maxwell’s in Waterloo. On Saturday the tour will reach Théâtre Corona in Montreal before coming to a close on Sunday inside Toronto’s Phoenix Concert Theatre.
You can find the Q&A below, along with the music videos associated with the release.
Evidence – Weather or Not
HipHopCanada: Hey Evidence, welcome back to HipHopCanada. Thanks for taking time to speak to us and congratulations on your latest release. Let’s dive right into that. If you have to convince someone to pick up Weather or Not with only one song off the project, which would you pick and why?
Evidence: Different answer in different settings, I know every artist says it, so I’ll further the cause. Every one is my favorite for a different reason! I really did give each song it’s full attention.
HipHopCanada: No doubt. The project has seen a lot of great visual support to date including “Throw It All Away,” the Jason Goldwatch-directed “Jim Dean,” and, more recently, “10,000 Hours.” When you’re looking at a full body of work, what process do you take to determine which songs will get video support?
Evidence: There is no real rhyme or reason to it. I mean, obvious things like Premier did the beat, so of course I’m a try to pop it out more with a visual. Anything I feel I can do justice with a video I try not to miss that opportunity. With all that said, I’m never the type to make a video just because. So if the idea isn’t there, I just leave it at the audio.
HipHopCanada: You just released the video for “Powder Cocaine” featuring Slug (Atmosphere). Can we expect more videos to drop in support of the album?
Evidence: Yeah! I’ve actually shot a lot and have been patiently sitting on them. Good things come to those who wait. Very excited for the next wave of videos on this campaign.
HipHopCanada: Can you share any anecdotes or favourite moments putting together the project?
Evidence: Mixing and mstering are my favorite part. I can smell the finish line and original thoughts are being finalized. Best shit. Eddie Sancho, DJ Premier and Joe LaPorta brought their A-Game for sure.
HipHopCanada: Track 4 on Dilated’s debut, The Platform, is the song “Guaranteed” produced by The Alchemist. You have a line in that song that says “Others think I’m the one who makes too many references to weather… or not.” Your press release mentions that when you performed the song live, the audience would always sing the “or not” part along with you, and you began to look at it as a concept. How long have you been working on Weather or Not? And has your vision for the project changed since “Guaranteed” first sparked the idea?
Evidence: I always knew it would be the title for my last solo of this series, I just didn’t know that it would be happening now. That seemed so far off back in the day when I came up with The Weatherman related series. I said on Mr. Slow Flow, “umbrellas up, it’s raining cats and dogs” when I said that, I knew that would be the title to the follow up of Weatherman LP, so it’s been a constant thread running through all of these.
HipHopCanada: Of the 16 tracks on Weather or Not, which track did you enjoy working on the most, and why?
Evidence: No real song was a pleasure. I stressed and analyzed every single one to the point of it almost not being healthy. I literally felt like every song was its own album. Looking back, that’s not the healthiest way to work. Damn. Let’s not forget I weeded this album out of 20-25 songs, that part can drive you up the wall alone.
HipHopCanada: Speaking of The Alchemist, are there any plans for a follow to 2014’s collaborative album, Lord Steppington?
Evidence: Yeah for sure, but that just has to accumulate until the folder says, “ready to share with people” until then it’s just us making songs for no better reason. That outlet lets me laugh and not take things so seriously. In my life, that is very needed.
HipHopCanada: Over the years, you’ve done a lot of work with Madchild and his group, Swollen Members, picking up 4 JUNO Awards in the process. Are you still close with that crew and are there any new collaborations in the works? Any stories to share from your time working with them?
Evidence: I did a lot of tracks and even rapped on a bunch with them. Prevail, Rob and Madchild were always fun to work with. I have many stories, but I’ll leave them in the early 2000’s. (Laughing) I produced Madchild’s last album, The Darkest Hour in its entirety last year.
It was a good experience producing a whole album. In fact, since then I have done Rare Poise for Defari, and Aren’t U Glad You’re U for Domo Genesis. I also have an album I produced for Krondon on deck, and an instrumental album called “Squirrel Tape Instrumentals” on the way. Producing full albums for people has, and will continue to, make me sharper.
HipHopCanada: Are you checking for any other Canadian artists or producers?
Evidence: I’m checking for people that are dope and likeminded. Not tripping on location at all. There are so many dope people in Canada, east to west.
HipHopCanada: Has there been any discussion with Rakaa and Babu about a new Dilated album? If so, can you share any details at all on what to expect and when to expect it?
Evidence: Not as of yet. If it happens naturally, you’ll hear about it hopefully and if not, you won’t! I don’t wanna force anything when it comes to Dilated. That was a great run that I’m proud of, and no need to push if it’s not genuinely happening. Rakaa killed his verse on my album, and Babu’s beat for Weather or Not might be one of the biggest on the album. We are family, so family moves accordingly.
HipHopCanada: Before music, you were an avid graffiti artist. More recently you’ve established a huge Instagram following for your photography work. Do you have any visual art-based projects on the way? Do you still dabble with graffiti?
Evidence: I’ll get into that over time. Photography seems to come natural, so it’s not going anywhere if I stay interested in it. I can see myself doing it later in life, God willing. Making pictures is more than a hobby, but not for now.
HipHopCanada: During the BET Awards, your former rival Eminem used his platform to speak out against the shortcomings of the current administration in the White House, at least in his view of things. What was your view of his message? Could the hip-hop community be doing more to counter the administration’s agenda and often divisve messaging?
Evidence: Alchemist is Em’s DJ. Proof (R.I.P.) and I squashed this so long ago. Nothing but love to Eminem. I like what he had to say, but I didn’t over analyze it or anything.
Trump is a tough one. He’s a guy who just needs people saying his name one way or another. He really understands the, “there is no such thing as bad publicity” game. I give him little to no attention, he’s not someone I would have an interest in being around.
HipHopCanada: Speaking on Trump, and with the recent tragic shooting in Florida in mind, do you think any type of real change will becoming to American gun laws and culture?
Evidence: No, I don’t see any change happening anytime soon. Follow the money.
Written by Jesse Plunkett for HipHopCanada