May 11th, 2007
Although much less lyrically virtuosic, Evidence, like Brother Ali, is a white MC with a strong underground following. Evidence first rose to prominence as a member of Dilated Peoples, an underground juggernaut consisting of fellow members Rakaa Iriscience and DJ Babu. In 1998, Dilated Peoples released the classic underground single, “Work the Angles,” establishing a buzz that led to their debut album, The Platform (2000). Their 2004 album, Neighborhood Watch, brought their biggest amount of mainstream success due to the Kanye West assisted single “This Way.”
Unlike his previous work with Dilated Peoples, Evidence’s The Weatherman LP is a very personal album. This is likely due to the recent loss of his mother and the subsequent depression stemming from it. “Mr. Slow Flow” is a response to those who criticize Evidence for his overwhelmingly slow, almost mechanical flow. Its an expression of confidence in his artistry and reflects the overall tone of the album. On “Letyourselfgo,” Evidence discusses the negative outcomes of being consumed by work and expresses his recent personal rebirth. “Chase the Coulds Away” finds him musing over newfound joy after many years of unhappiness. The album’s final song, “I Still Love You,” is dedicated to his late mother; produced and performed by Evidence, it is the most personal song on the CD.
“Born in LA” and “A Moment in Time” are the two songs on the album that establish Evidence’s personal and artistic identity. On “Born in LA” he raps,
Raised in Santa Monica til’ the divorce
six years old
I couldn’t see what was coming of course
Mom bounced on Old Man
then we moved to the Venice sand
A young youth seen gangs first hand
fake address for school
rich friends then back to my land.
In this quotation, Evidence presents the dual nature of his identity. The divorce of his parents and his subsequent move from affluent Santa Monica to a working class area of Venice established a binary identity that is evident in his music. Identity is further explored on “A Moment in Time” in which Evidence and Planet Asia present diametrically opposed stories about life in Los Angeles. Evidence opens the song by reminiscing on an innocent childhood, mentioning Santa Claus, the Tooth Fairy and Little League baseball while constructing his middle class existence. Planet Asia muses on an adolescence dominated by delinquency, violence, and drugs. Evidence’s background is a-typical of a hip hop artist and, on “A Moment in Time,” this becomes more apparent when contrasting his verse with Planet Asia’s. Although Evidence and Planet Asia have very different identities, the hip hop song is where their two worlds come together and exist in a state of equilibrium. In some ways, the music itself is an overarching identity, as it is for fellow white rapper, El-P. (Continued in the next post)
Posted by Langston Collin Wilkins
Review Genre(s): Rap and Hip-Hop