Evidence Breaks Down “Cats & Dogs” Track by Track (Exclusive Interview)
As Dilated Peoples alum Evidence prepares to release his highly anticipated new album Cats & Dogs he sat down with DJBooth to walk through the album track by track. In this exclusive interview Ev reveals Alchemist's accidental creation of the Crash beat, the Gangstar bluerprint he follows and why sh*t is not all good.
On the Album Title Cats and Dogs
If you know my career it’s always been based on weather themes. Weatherman was my first one, Cats and Dogs is my second. It’s basically just a heavier version of the first. By calling it cats and dogs it gives me the freedom to make it heavy, make it dark, make it dramatic, not make it all good. It’s a loose metaphor for what I’ve been going through.
Liner Notes ft. Aloe Blacc
Produced by The Alchemist. I always hate when an album has titles like Intro or Outro, I think that’s lazy, but if you can do something that represents an intro or outro, than thumbs up to you. It’s one verse, from the heart, summing up what I’ve been going through. It’s dark with light at the end of the tunnel.
At first it had [DJ] Revolution scratching, but I wanted to make it a little more layered, so I had Aloe sing. We were going to put a second verse on it and make it more of a song, but I figured no; let’s cut it right here, call it the Liner Notes and let it set up the album.
That is hard sh*t. This is not my deep song, this is f**k you, I’m here again.
I really love the [Gangstar] sample, but I never knew it said, “Money’s growin like grass with the mass appeal.” I never knew it said that until I heard Da Youngsta’s song and learned that’s what DJ Premier was cutting up. I like things that give you room for interpretation.
The format is really classic to the Dilated blueprint – three verses of hard rhymes with murderous cuts in between. Produced by TwizTheBeatPro, and to have somebody new starting off my album is dope to me, to help bring the light to somebody who deserves it.
The Red Carpet ft. Raekwon & Ras Kass
That is an honor to be on that song. Those two rappers are the best to me and the fact – and I’m going to say the fact because the response I’ve gotten from Babu and people I care about – the fact that I’m rapping on a level with them, and it doesn’t feel like you’re waiting to get to them, is incredible.
On top of it I’m not spitting a battle rap, I’m talking about my life. So to be on a record with these two, and to really be saying something, is the biggest reward. Those two are my heroes.
All three of us really talked about deep sh*t. Ras as well, and the thing I love about Raekwon is you have to decode his verse. It has such replay value. You don’t get it until you play it over and over and then f**k, one thing clicks one in a while.
It’s a meal that I’m proud to serve.
It Wasn’t Me
This is very conceptual. Three verses dealing with three different issues: the first verse talking about relationships, living with a chick and other chicks texting me. The second verse talking about my graffiti issue I’ve been having, and the third one talking about how I got my name from will.i.am. Each time at the end of the verse, ‘it wasn’t me,’ just putting my hands up.
‘I never thought about fame / I only thought about if KRS would know my name,' is as real as it gets.
I Don’t Need Love
Probably the most personal song on the album. The first time I’ve been through a real relationship loss with a girl and chose to talk about it on record: ‘Took the jacket off and saw blood on my sleeves / when you wear your heart there that’s the puddle it leaves.’
Second verse, I’m talking about being on tour with Kanye West and getting a call that my mom’s not well. Having to leave tour and spending the last weeks of her life with her. How that turned into resentment with me and other women – it’s really deep.
That is a complete song to me. Not only did I say what I wanted to say I did the beat as well. I just did it in a room by myself.
DJ Premiere – it’s an honor to work with the f**king legend and I got an amazing track from him. I’m proud of how there are a lot of gems being dropped but at the same time it’s something you could rock at the club.
Having Premiere say, “I gave this to Busta Rhymes but the way you rhymed in pocket, I don’t think anyone would have done it like that,” is probably the biggest compliment I ever gotten.
God Bless That Man
Just an interlude. It’s Alchemist’s outgoing voicemail, and it’s the best answering machine message of all f**king time so I had to put it on my album.
Fame ft. Roc Marciano & Prodigy
Three different takes on fame. I’m saying I don’t want fame, Roc Marci is talking about what it takes to get fame in his world, which is the street, and Prodigy’s talking about ‘I’m out of f**king jail, I love this f**king fame.’ It’s so dope to see three different perspectives on one theme.
If it was reminiscent of anything I’d say Born in L.A. off the Weatherman LP because that song had Chace Infinite, myself and Sick Jacken – three different ethnicities from L.A. all talking about their perspective on the city.
That’s Alchemist and myself. We’re a group called Step Brothers, so that’s our Step Brothers song for the album. It has nothing to do with Jimi Hendrix what so ever, it’s just called that. To me that’s the sh*t – whenever you have a song title that really doesn’t have anything to do with the song.
It’s not deep, it’s just fresh, fun and us wildling out.
Late for the Sky ft. Slug & Aesop Rock
That’s a really different song. Produced by Sid Roams, whose known for his harder sh*t, but with a dope singer on the chorus. That’s the thing about my solo records – I’ve never been afraid of singing on my solo shit. I look to Gangstar’s Royalty; KC & JoJo singing on a Gangstar track was still one of the rawest sh*ts ever. Or how Dr. Dre can put singing into his sh*t. That’s my blueprint to follow.
Slug did his verse first and set the mood for the song. It was his idea to put Aesop on it – I’d never rhymed with Aesop or ever really hung out with him so I was apprehensive about putting a stranger, so to speak, on my album, but when I built with him on the phone I really felt where he comes from and what he does.
That song is so dynamic, our rhymes styles are just so f**king different. When we attach a visual, or a performance, it’s going to be magical.
Really hard song, chaotic. Beatnuts meets the Bomb Squad or some sh*t. Produced by The Alchemist.
If you’re a producer and you have a drum machine, to load a beat you load your instruments and then set a sequence. In history, as I understand it this also happened to Top Billin by Audio Two, sometimes you forget to erase your sequence before you load new instruments. So when you hit play, you get these new sounds that aren’t meant to be played in that sequence. That’s what happened with this beat. Alchemist loaded the wrong instruments to this sequence and this weird sh*t happened.
At first I called it Accident, cause it wasn’t meant to be, and then as I started writing I called it Crash. Alchemist took the beat back and cleaned it up to make it work. But we took something that was an accident, put a lot of high speed chase music behind it and turned it into a chance for me to vent.
First line: 'Heath Ledger, River Phoenix and AM put together.'
Where You Come From ft. Rakaa and Lil Fame
Originally called Build & Destroy but we changed it to Where You Come From because you either build or destroy where you come from – it’s based on a Jay Electronica line.
That record is great because Rakaa’s on it, from Dilated Peoples, and he’s the most important guest always. I also got Termanology and Lil Fame of MOP on the chorus. Term and Fame are part of a new group about to come out so it was a great way for me to tie them together and present them to the world.
Once again, it’s like I could either do the song by myself for my ego, or I could put some great people on it and try to make it even better.
(There is no track 13)
To Be Continued…
There is no track 13 on purpose. The first line of To Be Continued starts “10 commandments, 24 hours, the 13th floor was missing from the towers.”
The Masons, any buildings built by them leave the 13th floor out. 13 is not just a lucky number, but an unlucky number too. People use it both ways.
For me to leave it [the 13th track] blank and then explain why in the first line of the next track [To Be Continued] to me is genius. I don’t think there’s ever been a missing 13th track on an album, ever.
It’s just a monster of a track. It really narrates Cats & Dogs and lets me paint a dark picture, like rain falling down from the sky. It’s a chance for me to really touch on what I’ve been going through and really use my creativity.
I think it’s very visual and represents my life now and in the past.
Well Run Dry ft. Krondon
For better or worse, you’re either going to feel bad for me or f**king respect me. I’m basically saying sh*t ain’t all good. I’m making money but it’s ain’t easy. I pay my moms bills, I’m going to storage and looking at my mom’s stuff and it hurts. This is reality – the next mortage is due and I want to reinforce what I have in the bank. That means I have to go on tour, but I don’t want to tour right now and it’s fu**ked up.
I could have been like things are great, I signed to Rhymesayers and here’s all this money, or I could have said here’s what I’m really going through. I had to make a choice: do I put the song on the album and not look glamorous and like a rock star, or is a rock star really someone who’s not afraid to out something like that out?
The outro, which balances out Liner Notes. Produced by Premier – it was an old beat of his that I found that I was really interested in.
It was a chance for me to say hey, all this Wells Run Dry, all this I Don’t Need Love, you may have forgotten that I’m a bad mother**ker and I love what I do.
And I end it with the words, ‘the greatest.’ That doesn’t mean that I’m the greatest in the game, but I’m the greatest I can be. Here’s the light at the end of the tunnel. I went through all this sh*t and I’m still making great f**king music.
I’m proud of it, I’m proud of my accomplishments, and I’m going to show you how to get through all the sh*t.
If you can't wait to hear the tracks Evidence just broke down be sure to cop Cats & Dogs when it drops via DJBooth on Tuesday, September 27. In the meantime, for more audio enticement be sure to check out the album's sampler, mixed by DJ Babu.