One of Dilated's emceeing duo, and producer of many a Dilated track, Evidence is well established. Having worked with everyone from Xzibit to Kanye West and completely grazing across the board. Dilated Peoples most recently released "Neigborhood Watch" on April 6th through Capitol Records.
Correction: As with all transcribed interviews, there is room for error and upon request we checked our recording of this interview and found that we mis-quoted Evidence. He did not say that he co-produced "a lot" of "The College Dropout," but "the last song" on the album. We're sorry for any confusion this may have caused.
MVRemix: So it turns out I'm interviewing you - I was told I was interviewing Babu...
Evidence: Would you rather interview Babu?
MVRemix: No, you're a great interview as well, it's just I was told up until now that it would be Babu. I'm going to interview you in a bit of a different format - I'm going to have to change up these questions.
MVRemix: A la "Fight Club," "If you could fight any celebrity, who would you fight?"
Evidence: Hmmm... If I could fight any celebrity, who would I fight. You know, I've trained jujitsu, so I'm up for the task. I'm not really looking for fights these days, I'm trying to deal with cats. But if it came down to it, I'm trying to kick a few. Hmmmm... lets do that question last.
MVRemix: With Dilated's progression and obvious audience growth, do you feel you're looked upon differently or respected as you were?
Evidence: On "Marathon" I said "I keep our heads with the sense that there's more to gain." Rakaa always said that we try to keep the same heads in the front row, we just hope it goes back a lot farther now. We've really done a lot to secure our fan base; whether it's through Alchemist presents "Heavy Surveillance" mixtapes or putting "Marathon" out on ABB Records in Los Angeles. We've really done a lot to stay in touch with the people that got us here and haven't left them. It just so happens that with the natural evolution of human beings; you're always going to grow, you're never going to be satisfied. I think that out of all the groups that do what we do, we really have an edge on them. We still remember our past, we're still real humble cats. We do in-stores, we're still with people and shaking hands letting them know we're still the same Evidence, Iriscience and Babu that we started out as.
MVRemix: With regards to production, you recently released the "Yellow Tape Instrumentals" album on Battle Axe. Are you going to be doing more instrumental albums or will you just be sticking more with the Dilated stuff or...?
Evidence: None of that was new material that was all previously released work that I've done over the last four years. Mostly from four years ago and before that. What happened was a lot of people were coming up to me saying "I loved this record you did for Aceyalone," or this record you did for LMNO, but "how come I couldn't find the instrumental for them?" And there were only 500 pieces of wax pressed... "How do I get that instrumental?" So what I did was checked over a lot of the production I'd done where the instrumentals were hard to find and just put them out. That's just a compilation of showcases of some old work. That's not what I'm currently up to up-to-date. Madchild was just like, "You have the outlet to put stuff like that out if you want through Battle Axe." So I just gave him fourteen cuts of what I had done. I don't feel that's a current representation of where I'm at now. Where I'm at now, I don't really think the world knows. I've really been in my hole - in my lab, like Dr. Dre says "I took time to perfect the beat." I really took that line to heart. So I've really been in my studio just really trying to let people know that when I come back out with some production in these next couple of years, you're gonna be noticing the difference in a major way.
MVRemix: What do you concentrate upon musically... do you have a preference with regards to keyboards versus samplers or do you mesh everything you can together?
Evidence: Ideally, I would like to blend it all together. Sometimes a sample will spark an idea. A lot of times I use a sample and end up putting so much music around it, I end up taking the sample away. There's just no real one formula. I do appreciate when people can do work on keyboards or use live instrumentation to make it sound authentic. My goal is to create that sound. How I get it, I don't really care. I just want the best sound possible.
MVRemix: Recently... probably a few months ago, Defari made some comments on people like Atmosphere, Ugly Duckling and Aesop Rock. Because Dilated's kind of on the fence with that, how do you feel about what he said?
Evidence: What do you mean exactly by "We're on the fence"? I just want to get that clear.
MVRemix: As far as I knew, you were affiliated with Defari
MVRemix: But have you not done shows with any of the aforementioned artists...
Evidence: Yeah I have. That's the interesting part about that. When we went to Minneapolis, Atmosphere threw our in store for us. We did the same show with them together that night and with Talib Kweli, we'd performed with them before on that tour. So I respect what those people are doing. But Defari's a grown man and I respect his opinion, I respect his opinion as a grown man aswell. I do think that some of the stuff that he said, he had good points on and some of it I don't agree with. But, just to let everybody know that just because Defari said what he said and he feels how he feels, doesn't mean I have to represent those same feelings.
The game has changed, and he makes a valid point, but I am cool with Atmosphere and I am cool with Ugly Duckling and I am cool with a lot of people like that. I do respect what they're doing as well.
MVRemix: Along those same lines, I'm not sure if you've heard, but Chuck D recently criticized Kanye...
What'd he say?
He basically said "Somebody gets top-notch producer credits for speeding up old records" and "I think his lyrics are decent, but eighty-five percent of cats rhyming have the same voice but look different." "It's like the NBA having 200 six-foot point guards." What are your thoughts on his words with regards to Kanye.
I guess this is a repeat of the last question because I respect Chuck D. If it wasn't for Chuck D there might not be any Dilated Peoples, or Public Enemy - there wouldn't be a Dilated Peoples. So I respect his opinion as a grown man aswell, but, Kanye's one of my favourite artists right now. If that's case, I'm the same too. "Guilty as charged," haha.
MVRemix: Along the lines of "This Way," what's better "getting laid" or "getting paid"?
Evidence: Man, that is a really fuckin' good question. I would say 60/40 getting laid. But [Evidence breaks out in laughter], you know after I get laid there's sometimes that idea of "Damn, I don't need to be doing this all the time. I need to be focusing my energy on getting that money." So I think one really helps the other out a lot. If you get too much pussy, then that's a problem. But if you're only about getting money, that ain't healthy either - you need to go get laid a bit. Haha.
MVRemix: What are you listening to right now?
Evidence: I'll go get my CD book so I can go check honestly. Hold up... [brief period passes] I'm on the road with Kanye and Young Gunz. So, Consequence (one of Kanye's artists). You know, Consequence who was down with A Tribe Called Quest. I've got his mixtapes, I've been bumping that. I've got the Sean Paul album. Radiohead's "Kid A," the Kanye album, Encore's "Layover," Mobb Deep "Free Agents," Norah Jones' "Feels Like Home," the Okayplayer compilation - that came out real tight. I've been bumping the Dilated album like crazy, even though it's almost like two fuckin' years old. Shit, a dude on Capitol named Van Hunt. Strong Arm Steady's out of Los Angeles, which is Krondon, Mitchy Slick, Phil Da Agony and Xzibit they've been putting out mixtapes and they've got an album coming out. I'm loving all that stuff. I just like good music where I can find it. I'm not the same cat I was ten years ago trying to see a lot of shit out. Nowadays shit has to find me rather than I go out looking for it.
MVRemix: Which movies have shaped you?
Evidence: "Godfather," "Scarface," "Carlito's Way," "City Of Gods," "Reservoir Dogs," "Shawshank Redemption," oh I don't know, there's so many good movies out there man.
MVRemix: Looking forward to "Kill Bill vol. 2?
Evidence: Didn't see "Kill Bill vol. 1"
MVRemix: You didn't?
Evidence: Yeah, sometimes the good ones pass me by.
MVRemix: How has the touring with Kanye been going?
Evidence: Its been beautiful. Its been really good. I'll be honest, a lot of it is a Rocafella crowd who haven't really heard Dilated's records. They might know "Worst Comes To Worst" or this cut or that cut. They don't really know a lot about us. Every night we go there's all those Dilated Peoples fans going up in there singing every word. So, a lot of these Rocafella people are looking at them going "How the hell these kids know all the words to this shit, I don't even know about it." We've always been the type to do our thing infront of a crowd, no matter who it is. We've opened up for D'Angelo, Rage Against The Machine, Linkin' Park. Its never been a thing for us to get out in front of new people. We look people in the eye and demand that respect and by the end of the show everybody goes crazy. We do our thing, then we leave, then Kanye comes out and later we do our thing in his set with "This Way." The roof almost falls down every night when we do that.
MVRemix: Which artists influenced your live stage show performance?
Evidence: Jurassic 5, Rakaa a lot. He encouraged me to get on the road. I was all really about the recordings. I never really considered the "live" aspect. I was on the streets battling cats, but I never thought about getting on a stage and performing for thousands of people at a time. But, they really taught me how to do good showmanship. I'm an emcee, not just a rapper.
MVRemix: Now that "Neighborhood Watch" is out, which is the track you're most proud of and which is the one you wish you could do again?
Evidence: This album was meant for an August release of 2003. Due to a lot of politics and bullshit, it came out when it came out and it came out now. I'm not mad at that because the success is wonderful and I really dig it. But as a creative person, you always want to move on. What we did was recorded a track called "Under The Sun" which was meant for a "Heavy Surveillance" mixtape and people started reacting to it really well. There came times where the UK was demanding and Japan was demanding an extra track for the record because they always want something exclusive and so we went back into the studio and re-vamped "Under The Sun." We put strings on the hook, added voices over the guitars to enhance them. We put Rakaa first, I used to go first, but we switched the order, just to make it a little more fluid. It just became magical. So what's happening is that song is actually being striped onto all the records. It's actually not on the first run. I feel like it's current Dilated. The song "Marathon" I really love, the song "Love And War" I really love. Our solo songs "Big Business" and "Caffeine" I really love because we get split individually; you get to see the different dynamics of us. There's nothing I regret. I really feel that the fact this record is coming out now really shows the power and the timelessness of the music that we make. As a creative person and as a person who's striving to do better and thinking they're doing better; I would love to get back in the studio and start creating new material.
MVRemix: What does the future and near future have in store for Dilated? Are there guest appearances or collaborations that we've yet to hear about that are soon to emerge or...?
Evidence: I co-produced a lot of songs on Kanye West's album, like the song called "Last Call." It was a big opportunity for me. "This Way" was the last song we did for our album and "Last Call" was the last song we did for his album. A lot of people say that "This Way" was the best cut we got and a lot of people say that "Last Call" was the best cut he got. It's kind of nice to know that we influenced each other and that we're not just reaching out to one person. That we can mutually influence each other. My production, like I said before, is something I'm very much focusing on. The stuff I've done for Madchild of Swollen Members for his solo record, or my solo record that I've started brainstorming on already I really feel like is gonna get 110% of my focus and 2005, 6 and 7 - people are going to see a lot more of Evidence on the board and lyrically. I'm 27 right now and I just feel that over these last couple of years I've grown up so much. I'm really ready to handle that responsibility, whereas in the past I've had a lack of self-confidence on my part. The only reason I kept doing it was people were telling me "You're nice." Or, "You have that ability." Now I'm really starting to fall into my own, so there's gonna be a lot of things. Like me doing a track on Xzibit's new album, which is a possibility right now or an underground cat from Los Angeles named Element. Just a number of different things that I'm involving my energy in. Know that if I put my stamp on it, it's gonna be quality material.
MVRemix: With regards to solo records, will you and Rakaa definitely be releasing them over the next couple of years or...
Evidence: Yes, yes, yes. Sorry to interrupt that, but yes. It's something that we've wanted to do for a long time. It's no secret that we didn't grow up together, we came together to do this group. We hooked up as people who already had our own visions in mind. We came together to do this little group; Dilated Peoples. It's our version of Wu-Tang basically. That's why the group is dynamic. That's why we haven't met our goal yet. Sometimes you're too overly political for a whole record, or if someone's just spitting battle raps for a whole record, it might lean too heavy one way. With Dilated Peoples we kind of find that balance. Especially with Babu being the backbone of that balance; the DJ. We really found something special. I think people dig our group for different reasons. I think once we get through our solo records you'll find out more of who we are as individuals. It might be a little more tangible as far as encompassing a whole project. Not to belittle any Dilated record, I love these records to death for the rest of my life. But I feel when Rakaa has that platform to say what he wants to say for three verses instead of compromising it into a verse and a half then we're gonna really shine. We're gonna have each others backs 100% no matter what.
MVRemix: Do you have any last words you'd like to put to your fans or potential fans that are going to be reading this?
Evidence: Yes, this is a work in progress. I'm not satisfied. I don't think we've made it, I don't think we've done it. I don't think classics that people deem classics are; like "Work The Angles." I've got it in me to top those. My hunger is up more than ever. Count on us to keep coming up with quality shit and if I feel like I'm losing my edge, I'm gonna stop doing it. I love the music too much to do it a dis-service.
[I begin winding down the interview, but Evidence reminds me "We're not done"]
Oh yeah, shit, I forgot about that. If you could fight any celebrity, who would you fight?
Evidence: I would fight... Anybody, just any celebrity period?
MVRemix: It's kind of a joke question. Last week I asked Gift of Gab and he said "Gary Coleman"
Evidence: Haha. That's not fair!
MVRemix: Lyrics Born said "Schwarzenegger."
Evidence: That's not fair either. Haha. Let me think. Ah yeah, what am I thinkin' about? George Bush! I'd put him in a chokehold. I'd better be careful with what I say, I might have the secret service following me. We could scrap fairly with a referee to make sure that there's no dirty blows or something.
MVRemix: I think he may have a few people behind him...
Evidence: Yeah, I might have a good cheering section.
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