Cats & Dogs
Evidence is that dude. Many heads point to 2007′s Weatherman as one of hip-hop’s recent treasures. That first solo project, with production from Sid Roams, The Alchemist, Jake One, Babu & Ev (all of whom are back on this one, save Jake One), had a refreshingly crisp sonic blueprint, heavy on the spacy synths and brimming with soul. Having now made a switch from the lost-at-sea ABB to Rhymesayers with a Layover (EP) in between, everything is back in order for the dilated one to drop another top-drawer record.
The only preconceived notion for this album was that the sound would be more muddy Minneap than Ev’s straight-ahead Venice Beach formula. This is foiled early on; the only track with fellow Rhymesayers is “Late For The Sky” with Aesop Rock & Slug (decent verse but Slug’s voice sounds a parsec tinny compared to Ev’s & Aesop’s, yeah the fool co-owns the label, got his feet up, so what).
Ev over Primo is nice, very adequate, if not just a bit underwhelming. The Raekwon/Ras Kass features on “The Red Carpet” are memorable but the best collaboration is “Fame” with add-ons from Roc Marciano & Prodigy. Premier chimes in again on “The Epilogue,” a superior composition to “You.” The album’s overall restrained production caters expertly to Mr. Slow Flow’s blunted baritone. Furthermore, there are 5 pairings of Ev & Alchemist (The Stepbrothers) and the results are typically engaging.
The loose concept of heavy rainfall is well-conceived and gives way to any number of interpretations. It also clears a path for a weather-themed trilogy. Ev’s penmanship continues to evolve with effortless storytelling and vivid phrasing; this listener favors “I Don’t Need Love.” The moment that truly trumps up the session is the intro for “Late For The Sky;” a bit where Ev jumps in a cab and asks the cabbie to turn up the radio. In that brief exchange, Ev sums up what hip-hop means to many listeners.
Evidence sponsors the best of what hip-hop once was and the glowing embers that still remain. This is not to discourage those who get excited about each of NahRight’s 30-leaks-per-day or hang on every character Jayceon or Tyler tweets. Sadly, hip-hop has run out of topics (not impact, mind you) and old-head critics have run out of ways to address the void. Ev seems aware of this, which is why the album is every bit bitter as it is sweet, “I ain’t claimed to be a game changer/I claim the West, Venice Beach, RSE & Dilated…” Enough said Mr. Perretta, despite running a bit long, this is clearly one of the year’s better releases.