Evidence utters these words two years after his mother's death. The reserved Californian has rolled on stage for years as an integral member of rap group Dilated Peoples, but is now alone in the limelight, with the March 20 release of his solo debut, The Weatherman LP. It is dedicated to the woman who raised him on the streets of Santa Monica.
On the 21-track album, bouncing beats, ill scratches and catchy hooks revolve around the relentless Ev, who spits pure adoration for his mother. It is obvious from the opening track, "I Know," to the final song, "I Still Love You," who the inspiration was for the record.
"Sometimes it's a tricky situation because I feel like she's not physically here to hear it," he continues. "So I think, ‘Am I too late?' Or ‘Am I doing this for selfish reasons?' But after a while, I figured out its really good therapy for me, to give her the credit she deserves by celebrating her life through this album."
It's possible to say Ev literally jumped at a solo release after Dilated weighed out their contract with Capitol Records in 2006. The presentation of a platform to alleviate his status as a solo artist on the hip-hop map was too tempting, as Mr. Slow Motion explained that he has never let fans get too close to his private world over some 10 years of spitting and crowd-pumping alongside, and at times behind, close friends Rakaa and DJ Babu.
"I had a line on our last album, 20/20, where I said, ‘I wear my heart on my sleeve/I just got my jacket over it.' That's how I've always been, I put it out there but not all the way," he says. "But on The Weatherman LP, you get to know Evidence because I'm letting you into my life and my guard isn't up so much. I've shown a lot more vulnerability, so I'm not just that guy in a group; I'm establishing who I am as a person."
Countless hours in the recording studios went into the album. The proud perfectionist claims he re-recorded each track around five times, and despite others' praising him, saying, "This is good, we're gonna make it, it's the shit!" Ev would always respond with something like, "Fuck man, I gotta do this again!" Hard grinding, heart and soul, nothing less.
When asked about the creative process, he complains less about the stress and reminisces over the mad collaborations on the album that signalled "when the fun really started." He described working on "Let Yourself Go" with Phonte from Little Brother as "incredible," doing "Perfect Storm" with Rakaa as "really just fun" and watching singer Res do the chorus for ‘Believe in Me" as "amazing."
Other artists featured on The Weatherman LP include Alchemist, Mad Child, Defari, Joe Scudda, Slug, Chace Infinite and Sick Jacken. "All of these people who came through for my album came through out of love," says an appreciative Evidence. "They're not strangers I was put in a room with. These are people in my phone book, who are incidentally a lot of the people I'm feeling right now."
One can only wait and see now if he can exceed the rep he gained as a soldier in the Dilated crew. In the mean time, Ev will be rapping it up with Alchemist in one-off pockets around the country. The man is unlikely to sit and stare, as he has had little more than the hip-hop game on his mind since being that "bugging" 13-year-old on Venice Beach who moved in so fatefully next door to QD3, the son of legendary producer Qunicy Jones.
That was then. This is now. Nothing's changed, as Evidence remains "running around looking for someone to do a song with." He epitomizes the quotes "Patience is a virtue" and "Good things come to those who wait."
Whether The Weatherman LP—and Ev's solo career, in turn—soars to hip-hop acclaim or flops at the first hurdle, two things are undeniable: A proud mother is watching over her compassionate son, and this rapper is enjoying his time in the limelight.
"Now when I'm doing my shows, even though it's not as big as with Dilated, they came to see me and that's a good feeling. I'm just building it up from ground zero but it's going to be a lot of fun doing it."