It's been four years since Evidence from Cali-rap crew Dilated Peoples released his solo debut. That length of time usually spells a death sentence in hip-hop's churn-'em-out economy, especially for an "underground" rapper. But Evidence's new effort rewards our patience.
Mostly, Ev raps over very pleasant Alchemist beats. If you can't get with his trademark slow flow, there's no faulting his preference in production. DJ Premier's crispy contribution, You, invokes old Dilated records and sets up Ev's straight-shooter style of rapping. Strong cameos by Slug, Raekwon, Ras Kass and Roc Marciano keep Cats & Dogs from buckling under the weight of a 20-deep track list, though track 13 is just four seconds of intentional silence.
Essentially, Evidence harkens back to 00s rap nostalgia without resorting to preachy tirades or regressive concepts, a respite during a time of sing-rap and hyper-aggressive flows.
Top track: The Red Carpet, featuring Raekwon and Ras Kass