Taken from December 2006, but just in case you missed it…
by Dwain Lucktung
“I mention her a lot on the album, as I realised I could be depressed for the rest of my life or I could just understand that it’s a part of a life cycle, and just to keep my head up and give her her props and the life that she deserves,” he says.
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, â€˜Am I too late?’ Or â€˜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, â€˜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 â€˜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 LPâ€”and Ev’s solo career, in turnâ€”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.”
MVRemix caught up with Mr. Lif while on tour with Cage at Richards on Richards in Vancouver, B.C., Canada, (July 2006). This interview was never added to the site in a transcribed form and is only available through this video.
It’s hard to believe that it’s been more than a decade since the release of his highly-acclaimed solo debut, Only Built 4 Cuban Linx. Despite having dropped two other solo albums since – 1999’s Immobilarity and 2003’s The Lex Diamond Story – the streets have been fiending for more of Raekwon the Chef’s grimy street appeal that first caught their attention back in ’95. The streets asked for it, and the Chef responded.
This summer, Wu Tang Clan’s best storyteller will drop Only Built for Cuban Linx II. On one of many mini-tours to promote it, the Chef sat down with MVRemix to talk about the album, being an icon and a teddy bear, and hip-hop as a tall bitch with big feet.
MVRemix: So how long you been on tour, like late March to mid-April?
Raekwon: Yeah, something like that. A two-and-a-half week thing.
MVRemix: Is that just on the west coast?
Raekwon: Nah, that’s international right now, you know, all the different countries, just letting people know to get ready for the album. Not too many artists that take it all across the world. I like to just travel the world, let the word be known, so I can be like, ‘Yeah y’all.’ At least the places I won’t be able to always to be at, at least I can show them some honor, you know.
MVRemix: The obligatory shit: You got a release date for [Only Built 4] Cuban Linx II yet?
Raekwon: It’s gonna be in the summer, you know. It’s not really no date solidified yet, because things can happen and change, you know. We’re gonna be shooting for, like, June or July, you know. It’s probably looking like a 70/30 probability.
MVRemix: I know you don’t want to give away too many details about the album. You’re very secretive about it—
Raekwon: Very much.
MVRemix: But Busta’s executive producing?
Raekwon: No doubt.
MVRemix: And mostly RZA beats?
Raekwon: Mhmm. [Nods]
MVRemix: Some Dr. Dre, some Erick Sermon, some Alchemist?
Raekwon: It’s possible, it’s possible. I mean, you doing all the answering! Saying everything that’s correct! You know, I don’t really want to give too much information, because it kind of takes the fun out of it. And, you know, my whole thing, at the end of the day, this album is just me with a street mentality. I’m not really worried about any press or any commercial radio, you know what I mean? I couldn’t make Cuban Linx [II] with that frame of mind because that wasn’t my frame of mind when I made the first one. So basically I just zoned out and just really got on some strong production shit, you know, compliments of Dre, RZA, Scram Jones, you know, J. Dilla, God bless him, he’s a maniac on the beats. Couple of things that are already going to make it classic, so I feel good right now.
MVRemix: Yes or no: the whole Clan, minus the late ODB, is confirmed to appear on the album.
MVRemix: The tracks you and Ghostface did together were done via e-mail. How do you feel about the chemistry between the two of you when it’s done that way as opposed to in the studio together?
Raekwon: One thing about me and Ghost, we both extremists. We like powerful production and we know we got our hands on some big production. To me, it’s just natural, because when we get in a room together, the chemistry just falls in place. It’s like being around somebody that’s an athlete, and you an athlete, and when y’all talk the same talk and move the same way, things start to play out better towards the future of whatever you’re doing. It’s about that confidence, you know what I mean?
MVRemix: You’ve said repeatedly that this album is going to be what the fans want, what they asked for. For example, you told MTV.com: “Nobody’s ever satisfied. At the end of the day, this album is gonna be the album dudes want. It ain’t gonna be the album Rae felt he should have given. This is gonna be what y’all wanted.” What is the album you felt you should have given?
Raekwon: One thing about me, you know I like to be versatile, and not just go into a certain kind of world where— this world, which is basically the cocaine era. This is a movie right here, you know what I mean? This is a movie of my life and where I had been before I even became the successful Raekwon. So for people to want that, that’s cool for me, but when you look at my name chef, I have many different dishes that I like to serve, you know. For this fortunate album here, that I’m able to make, I love the passion of this album right here, because it takes it back to the hunger of hip-hop. It’s needed right now. I understand that I may be the last man on the totem pole that can pull of such an album with this kind of sound. You know, it’s about the production as well the gangsta lifestyle, you know what I mean? It was more or less about, we street, like all the way. You didn’t have to look at Wu Tang on any commercial level, or how big our fanbase got. We always had the slang, the talk, the style, the different kind of music, the beats. The formula was just totally upscale. Now, you just get a bunch of whatever. You don’t get art at its best no more.
MVRemix: Real quick: Any updates on the [Wu] reunion tour?
Raekwon: I can’t comment on that. [Smile] I can’t. I’m sorry.
MVRemix: Ghost was saying he was a little disappointed with the last couple [Wu Tang] albums [The W and Iron Flag]. What are your thoughts on that?
Raekwon: Ghost can say all that shit, but at the end of the day, it’s like, one thing people gotta realize about Wu Tang: we make good albums, man. We might not be the best single-pickin’ dudes, but I know as far as making good albums, you compare any Wu artist to anybody’s album and they can’t fuck with us when it’s more than one song. You may have one or two good videos, but— sometimes Ghost be exaggerating, you know what I mean, with his mind frame of thinking that the albums be wack. I know anything I do, I don’t never make nothing wack. Any of my songs, we might not have as much focus as we wanted to, but we don’t make wack shit, so I’m not going for that. You can go get anybody’s album, put our shit next to it, lyrics, beats, whatever you want to do, it’s self-explanatory how we really get down. That’s what people look at us for; they look at us for album. Wu is a whole different family. People gotta remember that. We can talk about tennis balls today and talk about big, heavy pieces of ice tomorrow. It’s about the creativity that lives inside of us. We’re unpredictable. You gotta remember that, you know what I mean? For me, it’s like, I learn from every album. It’s just a vibe. Everything is not made to be the same, so that’s just him talking that bullshit. I ain’t going for that. He might have not liked it, but that’s cool. To me, I think we overkill ourselves sometimes with just being our worst critics. Sometimes we don’t get a chance to promote our albums either, so they won’t get the proper loving they get, because there’s no promotion on it. We’re not moving it like that.
MVRemix: What did you get your first big pay check from and what did you do with it?
Raekwon: Robbin’ and stealin’! [Smiles] Nah. Um, I don’t even remember, actually. I think I bought me a car. Bought me a Lex, or Acura or some shit. Got up out the hood, you know what I mean? Gave my mom some money, my family some money, then kept it moving. I wanted to get out of the neighborhood. I went and bought me a house.
by Jeremy Simmonds
MVRemix: Where in the world have you toured?
Dru Down: I’ve been all over. Everywhere except China.
MVRemix: That would be pretty big if Dru Down rocked China. Have you been to Canada?
Dru Down: Yeah I’ve been to Canada a few times. As far as rocking shows, I’ve never done one, but I’ve been there cuz I do this pimp thang! You know what talking â€˜bout I’m real in the fields.
MVRemix: In September of 2006 you dropped your sixth studio album titled “Cash Me Out” in collaboration with your cousin Lee Majors. Tell everyone out there about this project and your upcoming “Crack Muzic” mixtapes?
Dru Down: Crack Muzic is all out about taking a mutahfucka-it’s going to be inspired by it’s some different from Dru Down. People ain’t heard me rap over others, been waiting for. It’s with my blood cousins, but at the same time there gonna have to love my cousinsâ€¦which is real family.
MVRemix:In your music you make a point to express your roots and where you come from. Tell me about how Oakland shaped you as a person and why you take such pride in representing your town?
Dru Down: I’m 35, people don’t know. I feel like I’m still 20, like Jay Z. We’re out here in the gusto, if you see me you think of that. Hyphy is just another term of mobbin’. As far as the 50s, that’s the hometown. That’s my base, that’ my heart, that’s where I was raised. I been here for a lifetime. Everyone have a grandchild when they been here, I been back in forth between counties in La. But you know I stay town bound to the fullest. East Oakland, North and West, that’s my town, we all Oakland.
MVRemix: Do you ever feel as though you’d get more acclaim and attention if you were based in New York, Los Angeles, Atlanta?
Dru Down: Well right now maybe Atlanta, â€˜cause it’s on fire. Right now they on fire. We had that, then LA took it, and New York. But as far as respect, I get respect as soon as I step off a plane. I’m different by my ways, I stay oceaned up, curls, gold teeth, town business all the time. People ain’t gona say I’m NY, people know I’m a Cali cat, you know East O.
MVRemix: On a number of your songs you talk about police corruption and police brutality, such as “Bad Boys” among others.
Dru Down: Police ain’t nothing but a gang. They’ve been a gang, that’s way back if you look at the Al Capone days. They made it bigger, legit, just to stop him. People may do crime in the streets, and they’re made to catch it. That’s all it is, some people don’t understand crime, they a gang. Fuck the police, in my book. Any time they try to arrest me, I’m running. Any time they try to put a cuff on me, I’m out the dirt! American society is up on police brutality, that’s why people run, cuz of the situation of brutality. They don’t know what’s gonna happen. But when you’re legit, you can talk shit! [laughs]
MVRemix: Explain the origin of your word “pimpydoism” and what it means.
Dru Down: Oh pimpydoism is a mix of everything. That’s me, within all the game a mofo got and what goes with it, town business, within family origin of blood line; a pimp.
MVRemix: You have a lot of character and creativity in your writing and rapping. Among them is Jackrabbit the Bugsy. How would you describe that character, how it is incorporated into your music, and you come up with it?
Dru Down: Just fast rapping, Dru Down is typically more slow, but from my album “Pimpin Phernelia” that’s how everyone know about Jackrabbit the Bugsy. The fast style of rhyming.
by Josh Potter
In the calm before the storm, a simple voice asks a simple question: “Do you think that if you were falling in space that you would slow down after a while or go faster and faster?” It’s Donna Hayward from Twin Peaks: Fire Walk with Me — an ominous sample to begin an ominous opening track. But like a PCP-induced fever dream, omens turn to nightmares, and like something plucked from the pages of George Orwell or Phillip K. Dick, the nightmare proves itself to be far more scary and far more real than a mere night-time fantasy. “This is the sound of what you don’t know killing you.” The hook spouts it and the album embodies it. I’d tell you to run for cover, but this whole thing’s been brewing for too long to turn back now. We’ve seen it all coming and have no choice but to ride it out. Believe me, it’ll be worth it. “Cop a feel or two.”
Four years in the making, I’ll Sleep When You’re Dead has been rightfully described as El-P’s “post-traumatic stress album.” It’s a harrowing, visceral concept album, as much a response to the Draconian, post-9/11 world, as to personal tribulations. Its goal of capturing the political by representing the personal results in a fully-realized 13-track dystopia of searing guitars, dissonant electronics, and heavy industrial beat-scapes. It’s the much anticipated follow-up to 2002’s Fantastic Damage, and has been heralded by some as the most important rap album of 2007, as early as Fall 2006.
Employing his Gay Dog method of collaboration (pulled from the South Park episode in which George Clooney appears as a gay dog), El-P has assembled a veritable who’s-who of the contemporary music world to lend the disc additional gravity. Trent Reznor, Omar and Cedric of the Mars Volta, Chan Marshall, and Tunde of TV on the Radio are just a few of his guests. I’ll Sleepâ€¦ . finds El-P behind the microphone as well as the MPC, trading cryptic verses with Def Jux legionnaires Aesop Rock, Cage, and Mr. Lif.
In fact, his top-notch production value aside, it’s El-P’s lyricism that carries the day and holds the sprawling beast of an album together. Slipping in and out of characters, reprising earlier themes and using the power of suggestion as much as the gift of gab, the narrative tug of the album drags the helpless listener through the muck and mire of the tracks, teasing him with a glimmer of hope in the end.
From when the newpie dip sparks in the first verse of “Tasmanian Pain Coaster,” “the whole design got (his) mind cryin'” and it won’t let up. In “Up All Night” Lif tells El “we’re all deranged/ I’m no different/ I wish my hope still existed.” Yet in “Drive” El “hopped in the hooptie screamin’ freedom is mine.” It’s not optimism, though, so much as desperate resilience. “Dear Sirs” finds El allerting the powers that be that he will not in even the most unlikely situations fight their war, ever. Even after having to execute his lover in “Habeas Corpses” the issue is determined to be a matter of “faith versus physics,” and the plea goes out in “Flyentology” to “keep me in the sky that’s all that I cry/ I’ll become your servant if it’s worth your time.” When the newpie’s burned to the filter in “Poisenville Kids No Wins,” nothing’s been resolved, but it seems that the issue at hand has at least come into better focus. “How the fuck do you explain your own self-destruction,” El muses, “and still remain trusted?”
Self-destruction aside, El-P has little to fear in the trust department. I’ll Sleep When You’re Dead is the album that the hype-machine always expected he’d make — unsettling, urgent and necessary. It’s an album to be feared for the same reason it ought to be sought out. It’s one big helping of tough-love and even a spoon full of sugar isn’t going to help it go down. Don’t expect that the free-fall is going to slow down anytime soon, because as Laura Palmer speculates, through a haze of reverb, in response to Donna’s question, “for a long time you wouldn’t feel anything, then you’d burst into fire. And the angels wouldn’t help you because they’d all gone away.”
by Philip dos Santos
“You mad cuz I’m stylin on you…” – Nyckz
Unquestionably, one of the most memorable quotes from a street battle ever, it’s a line that was shortly followed up by a sucker punch to Nyckz’ left cheek from rap opponent “EnJ”. Although the line was clearly hilarious and could be deemed as somewhat insulting, was that the real reason EnJ decided to suckerpunch Nyckz during their battle? Gun references throughout the lyrical bout are cited as the main reason, but they (gun references) are so common in battles nowadays that it is almost expected.
My opinion: EnJ was mad that Nyckz was stylin’ on him.
That is a prime example of how the game has changed so much, Fashion has become the 5th element of hip-hop. Although, I received an email last year stating that there are now over a dozen elements, I am still unfamiliar with the sender and I will have to verify the “New” 8 elements another day.
Why fashion though? In 2007, MCs are hard to come by, but rappers? You can find one on every block, in every crew, from every background and situation. I am not going to turn KRS(-ONE) on y’all, but one difference in the modern day rapper is that lyrical content is dull and a lot of them need to rely on swag (Fashion) for an upper hand. As an 80’s baby, I always relied on my abilities and hustle to get me where Im going, but with the state of music & culture the way it is, I’ve been forced to change things up a little.
Breaking the Cycle, a hip-hop anti-violence movement, ran with tremendous success in its first year at York University in Toronto, Ontario. It came with little surprise its 2nd annual ran this year on March 9th 2007 as a sold out event.
I was able to touch base with the York President of LovE, Mike Prosserman, before the night of the event and spoke to him in regards of how the event would differ from its first run on organizing the 2nd annual. The event has become pertinent in not only presenting what the culture of hip-hop embodies but also in providing the community with an outlet through this organization to overcome violence. One would imagine there would be a great weight of pressure not only to continue its audience relations but to enamor its new supporters as well. Mike Prosserman seemed to have neither such worries to meditate on nor the time for it.
“First off I know this year will be the best yet because of all the amazing new acts we have planned. We’re keeping to the classics such as Subliminal as the host and the ridiculous Footbag crew from across Ontario. However, this year we are adding some special surprises some of which I am going to keep a secret but others including a tap dancing crew from Montreal, and the “Ill Abilities” crew featuring two disabled break dancers Lazylegs from Montreal and Tommyguns from California. This crew will be entering the competition in hopes to take home the grand prize. We also have much larger contributions and more support from our sponsors this year. Rogers Wireless and Nike Timing have taken their contributions to the next level allowing this event to truly get the exposure it deserves. We also have tons of other great sponsors involved. Goodboy Clothing will be launching their brand new spring product line, which reflects the culture of hip-hop really well and has substance as far as the message goes. We also hope for similar or more media coverage as compared to last year from City TV, Rogers, and of course MVRemix.
I can’t even describe how much the Leave Out Violence group at York has put into this event but you’ll just have to wait and see. Amazingly we have sold out over a week before the actual show! Just another example of why this year is going to be hotter then any other.”