Reviews:: Evidence - The Weatherman

If I were a lazy man, this could be a very easy review. I would simply say "if you like Dilated, you will like this album" and you'd be on your merry way. But folks don't come to the hill for reviews that concise, you want the rambling goodness we usually dish out. And truthfully, Evidence's debut solo album deserves better treatment than that, so let's have at it.

I've led off assuming we're all in the know where Evidence is concerned, but perhaps I should do some of the traditional review intro business. Evidence is a rapper/producer from LA (if you didn't know that beforehand, you'll certainly know it after hearing this album, mucho LA references) who is also 1/3, along with DJ Babu & Rakaa Iriscience, of legendary underground group Dilated Peoples. While they've never become a huge commercial success, Dilated have a body of work that is certainly respected by people who appreciate real hip hop, and they've carved out a very good career for themselves. Any talk about "real" hip hop tends to come off pretentious, but I can't think of a better way to describe a group like Dilated that feature a DJ as a integral part of the group and make the kind of enjoyable, gimmick-free music that dilated does.

So does The Weatherman just sound like just another Dilated album? Well yeah, kind of, but what's wrong with that? While we're asking questions you might ask what the weather gimmick is all about on this album. The weather update skits add, oh, about zero, to the enjoyment of the album and it's not readily apparent from the songs what the connection is. Well Evidence explains in a interview:

It was an alias my fans gave me back in 2000. I used to talk about weather too much in my rhymes. One day I was on the Internet and some kid said,"Evidence is dope but he talks about weather too much." So I said ,"Fuck it..I guess I'm The Weatherman." It's also erasing the misconception that it never rains in Southern California, with the Reign Of Evidence so to speak. Cali is a very misleading place, and I'm showing you can't believe all the stereotypes. It's not all gangstas and palm tress. There is a different side, and I'm reppin that.

Enough said. Back to the original question, The Weatherman does indeed sound similar to a Dilated album, but with some differences. Ev's lyrics get a bit more personal on his solo outing, umm, evidenced (hi-o!) by the two songs (I Still Love You & Chase The Clouds Away) dealing with the life and death of his mother. Ev also only produced 4 songs on this album, choosing to focus more on the lyrical side, so there's a wider variety of sounds then you might get on a dilated album. The Alchemist, Sid Roams (producers Joey Chavez and Bravo), Jake One, DJ Babu, and DJ Khalil do a good job matching Ev's hypnotic flow with beats that suit the passion he brings to his debut.

I Know hits leadoff and lets you know that solo Ev rolls like Dilated Ev but perhaps angrier. A classic self-produced track featuring thumping drums, pianos, flutes, and assorted other zips and zaps provides the background for Ev to let us know where he's at in this hip hop biz. The track is also notable because the hook is sung by a chick that sounds exactly like Beyonce. Why does that make it notable? No idea. The wall of sound created by the bass and organs (courtesy Sid Roams) on Mr. Slow Flow would make Phil Spector blush (or shoot you in the face). It suits Evidence perfectly and makes for an addictive song. Down In New York City is produced by Jake One, and it's jangly drums provide the backdrop for Evidence to show NYC some love while still reppin' the West.

A Moment In Time features Plant Asia and also bites the beginning of the Wu's Can It Be All So Simple which is appropriate as it's a back in the day jam, and he also gives another nod to the Wu as he re-works Raekwon's verse from Cream on Born In LA:

Raised in Santa Monica til' the divorce/six years old/I couldn't see what was coming of course/the plan/ Mom bounced on Old Man/ then we moved to the Venice sand/ A young youth seen gangs first hand/ fake address for school/ two educations/ rich friends then back to my land

Perfect Storm is another big Sid Roams beat for Ev to flow over, this time joined by Dilated MC partner Rakaa and Swollen Members' Madchild. If Dilated has another in-house producer, it's The Alchemist, who produced 5 songs on The Weatherman. The most surprising is Line Of Scrimmage featuring a scene stealing appearance by Slug. The Sid Roams boys come with another beat for Believe In Me which features Res, and one of Ev's most solid vocal outings. I Still Love You closes things off and you can feel the honesty in the song, in fact it's more than a song to Ev and that comes through.

After a few listens, I have no issue recommending The Weatherman if you're looking for a solid hip hop album in 2007. Evidence clearly had some things to get off his chest, and he does it to good effect on this album. The beats are solid, there are some quality guests featured, and there's some excellent DJ work which you have to appreciate when you can find it. Added up, it's a fine solo debut for Evidence, hopefully it'll do good things for him.

mp3:: Mr. Slow Flow

mp3:: Line Of Scrimmage

Check the awesome Beat Street inspired video for Mr. Slow Flow with Ev playing the role of Spit messing up Ramo's pieces.

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