Nowadays, aging twentysomethings like to pine for the good ol’ days of the late 90s, when Rawkus, ABB cranked out 12-inches like meth labs. It’s ironic to see these backpackers-turned-hustlers give up the fight and succumb to the easy lay that is most mainstream hip-hop. (Jibbs, meet Rich Boy.) Onetime stars of that era, from Talib Kweli to Mos Def, are dismissed as washed up, their time to blow having seemingly passed.
The whole debate is somewhat comical, if sad for those who depend on media hype and good buzz to fuel their recording careers. Meanwhile, true blue heads such as Evidence continue to refine the art, whether the bloggerati pays attention or not. At first glance, the LA rapper-producer appears to be one of those “washed up” backpackers. His group, the once-mighty Dilated Peoples, released the utterly disappointing 20/20 last spring before losing their deal with Capitol Records.
But The Weatherman is a pleasant surprise. It features all of the usual suspects — Joey Chavez, Bravo, Jake One, DJ Babu and Khalil — on the boards. But Evidence and Alchemist executive produced the disc, giving it a stylistic consistency considering so many cooks were in the kitchen. “Let Yourself Go,” a burn session with the Alchemist and Phonte Coleman, is a genuine masher. “Chase the Clouds Away” is a dreamy homage to Ice Cube’s “It Was A Good Day.” Three “Weather Reports” tie the 21 cuts together, and the beats are filled with little blips and random scratches, making them more flavorful than average loops. Guests like Defari, Dilated’s Iriscience, Slug, and Res keep things lively.
The rhymes span typical topics, from battle raps to memory lane strolls such as “A Moment in Time.” Vocally, he always deliberately emphasizes his cadence, and his monotone delivery remains a love-hate proposition. But a close listen reveals some lyrical sophistication. On “All Said & Done,” he raps, “Forever been catching a flight/Emergency row, coach, sitting up through the night/Can’t stand, you carried in/Ain’t earned, you married in/You ain’t a hustler like Larry Flynt.”
The Weatherman isn’t next-level shit; that isn’t what Evidence does. Like Dilated Peoples, he makes good meat-and-potatoes jams that stick to your bones. Unlike Dilated’s recent output, it sounds like prime beef, not chuck roast.