Rapper/producer Evidence has been a steadfast force in West Coast underground hip-hop since the mid-'90s emergence of his long-running group Dilated Peoples. Plainspoken yet deliberate on the mike, Evidence's approach to production is similar, typified by knocking, no-nonsense beats that reveal depth with repeat play. He has made five albums with Dilated Peoples, including the Billboard Top Ten R&B/hip-hop entries Expansion Team and Directors of Photography. His solo discography is likewise vast and collaborative, with production assistance regularly delegated to track master Alchemist, and no shortage of room for fellow MCs of high standing. In addition to his proper albums, ranging chronologically from The Weatherman LP (2007) to Unlearning, Vol. 1 (2021), he has issued numerous beat tapes and other supplemental projects. His noted work behind the scenes for other artists is highlighted by a contribution to Kanye West's The College Dropout, which consequently made him a Grammy nominee during the first half of his evolving career.
Originally from Los Angeles' Venice neighborhood, Evidence, born Michael Taylor Perretta, was into skating and graffiti as a youngster, and dedicated himself to another form of expression after neighbor and producer QD III -- accomplished son of Quincy Jones -- showed him how hip-hop was made. In 1992, while in high school, Evidence and MC Rakaa formed Dilated Peoples, later joined by DJ Babu of Beat Junkies. Dilated Peoples recorded a shelved project for the Epic-distributed Immortal label before they issued their 1997 debut single on ABB, and from 2000 through 2006 released four albums for major-label Capitol, highlighted by the Top Ten Billboard R&B/hip-hop entry Expansion Team and two subsequent Top 40 U.K. hits, "Worst Comes to Worst" and "This Way." Evidence branched out during this period as a guest MC and producer. Most notably, he co-produced "Last Call" for Kanye West and added the "Grammy-nominated" prefix to his name when its parent LP, The College Dropout, was among the nominees for Album of the Year in 2004. He also issued the first in his color-themed beat tape series, Yellow Tape Instrumentals, and the compilation Another Sound Mission, Vol. 1, a showcase for affiliates such as the Alchemist, Prodigy, and Defari.
Evidence released his first proper solo album, The Weatherman LP, in 2007. His DP partners were involved, as were Phonte, Big Pooh, and Slug, while Alchemist assisted most frequently on the production, and other beats were provided by Jake One and DJ Khalil. The ABB recording entered Billboard's Independent Albums chart upon release that March, and was trailed later in the year by two more mixtapes, Red Tape Instrumentals and Stormwatch. Other between-albums works, including but not limited to The Purple Tape Instrumentals and the Layover EP, preceded the September 2011 arrival of Cats & Dogs. The set established the rapper/producer's long-term alliance with Rhymesayers Entertainment, and with a supporting cast boasting Alchemist, DJ Premier, Raekwon, and Roc Mariano, it peaked at number ten on the R&B/hip-hop chart and pierced the upper half of the Billboard 200, reaching number 64. Three years later, Evidence and Alchemist teamed up for Step Brothers' Lord Steppington, with the former the main MC, assisting the latter production-wise on one cut. Dilated Peoples soon returned after a long break with fifth album Directors of Photography, and after another slew of side releases, Evidence led a deep crew in the making of his third solo album, Weather or Not, with the likes of Rapsody and Jonwayne added to his ever-expanding circle of collaborators. Issued in January 2018, the deeply personal set contained verses in which Evidence rhymed about his partner's cancer diagnosis and treatment.
By the end of the 2010s, Evidence had also built his production discography with collaborative showcases for CookBook, Madchild, Defari, and Brother Ali, and beats granted to individual tracks by Domo Genesis and Masta Ace, among others. This activity continued into the next decade, and in June 2021, Evidence offered his fourth solo album, Unlearning, Vol. 1. He split the production duties with the likes of Alchemist, Nottz, Daringer, and Sebb Bash, and brought in Boldy James, Conway the Machine, and Fly Anakin for featured appearances. ~ Andy Kellman
BORNDecember 10, 1976