"Been a lot of places when I stare at the map," Evidence rhymes on a song from his latest album 'Weather or Not,' "But never been to therapy—for me, that's rap."
During a recent visit to MASS APPEAL HQ, the esteemed L.A. rapper and producer stopped by the studio for some real talk. "I think it's therapeutic to rap," states Evidence, who recorded a very personal song after his mom passed away. "That song is what made me go solo," he says of the track that was initially recorded for the last Dilated Peoples album in 2006. "It just felt weird putting it on there…. This song was out of place."
Twelve years later Evidence has released another raw emotional track. "Now the mother of my son is fighting cancer," he says. "If I just shut up all the way, I feel like I'm living a lie."
When he started writing "By My Side Too" he wrote the first line—"My lady losing her hair." When he told a friend about it, his friend said "Don't write that, you're gonna bum me out."
Fortunately, he ignored that advice. "I just kept revisiting it, probably because I'm going to treatment with her every day." The feedback has been powerful. "There's a bigger reward for wearing your heart on your sleeve, than it is for keeping it covered up," Evidence says. "The payoff is way bigger than 'I like how your syllables lock up!'"
The wide-ranging conversation touches on Evidence's come-up, starting with memories of living next to producer QD3 in Venice, California. "My introduction was through a producer's eye," he recalls. "I got to see a record through." Before long he started making his own beats because he got "a little bit frustrated calling other people for beats."
Elsewhere in the interview, Evidence touches on the inspiration behind his "Weather Man" persona, and why he'll be abandoning that approach on his next album.
"I wanna be known as more of like a RZA or El-P or Kanye—someone who's just automatically known as a double threat, someone who can make beats and can rap, who can do it all." With that in mind, he's drawing inspiration from the classics. "I loved Mobb Deep's second album," he says. "Havoc did most of it. He shaped the sound of that record. That's what I wanna try to do is find my own sound, not just do well on Premier's sound, do well on Alchemist sound."
One thing he's not about to do is chase current rap trends. "There's a formula to make a record," Evidence observes. "It's very known. It's very easy to do. It's pop music. If I liked that type of stuff I'd probably be a bigger artist. It's just not fulfilling to me, so here I am."
Check out Evidence's Studio Interview right now.
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What started as a humble graffiti 'zine in 1996 would soon grow to be one of the most trusted outlets for youth-spawned urban culture. Today, Mass Appeal is a media collective led by authentic voices and inspired minds. We are a platform for radical creatives who are transforming culture.