Album: Cats and Dogs
If there’s any evidence that Evidence is falling off, it’s not found on his latest album Cats and Dogs. As usual, there are no gimmicks with Ev on this one as his third solo project delivers everything fans have come to expect from the former Dilated Peoples front man. However, if you’re not familiar with the lethargic style and delivery of Mr. Slow Flow, than this album might take some getting used to.
If you do happen to be one of those people that don’t really know much about Ev or his music, than take Cats and Dogs as a good opportunity to put yourself on. There’s no better song for you to learn about the man behind the mic than “It Wasn’t Me” where Evidence spits about everything from his life as a graffiti artist to his life as an MC and distinguishes the two when he spits “Tagging’ bucket on the wall but never tat it on my body / My music and my graph are living separate lives / One gets me paid the others paying the price / either way they’ll say I’m spraying at night /But how the f*ck when I’m touring overseas on the flight”. Ev also addresses his ongoing residence within the underground Hip-Hop community multiple times but does so most clearly with the line “I never thought about fame / I just thought about if KRS would know my name”.
Well, if KRS didn’t know who Evidence was before Cats and Dogs, he definitely does now, as I’m sure Ev had to clear the sample of the Teachers voice used on the song “I Don’t Need Love”. Not even the most hardcore Dilated Peoples fan could have forecast what the weatherman brought to the table with “I Don’t Need Love”. Ev really makes it rain Cats and Dogs with this joint as the self produced soulful yet thunderous beat is complemented by personal lyrics that strike like lightning when Evidence reveals he was once incapable of love and resented those who loved him the most. I wish I could quote all the depressingly dope bars on this one, but I’d just end up writing the lyrics to the entire song. “I Don’t Need Love” is arguably the best joint on the album.
Excluding a couple of boring boom bap beats such as “Fame” and an old Premo throw away that Ev recycled into “The Epilogue”, the production on Cats and Dogs is very consistent and pretty diverse. There is a solid blend of chill tracks like the DJ Premier produced “You” and bangers like The Alchemists “Where You Come From” which sounds like the offspring of Trae Tha Truth’s “Inkredible” and the Notorious B.I.G. classic “Kick In the Door” (listen to it and you’ll know exactly what I’m talking about). In fact, in some cases the production is so good that it’s hard to pay attention to the lyrics as Evidence’s poker faced flow just drowns out in the beat on songs like “Falling Down”. The one complaint I have in the production department is that it would’ve been nice to see more than two tracks produced by the Weatherman himself.
Cats and Dogs includes an average amount of features consisting mostly of established veterans like Prodigy, Lil Fame, Termanology and more. Some of the best group cuts on the album are without a doubt “The Red Carpet” featuring Raekwon and Ras Kass as well as “Late For The Sky” which features Aesop Rock, Ev’s label mate Slug and a catchy sample of Jackson Browne’s 1974 song by the same name.
There is no track thirteen on the album, it goes straight from track twelve “Where You Come From” to track fourteen “To Be Continued”. This is interesting because “To Be Continued” begins with the line “Ten commandments, twenty four hours / The thirteenth floor was missing from the towers”. This really speaks to Evidence’s intellect as a lyricist and his attention to detail, which is something that is evident throughout the album. However, if you’re not as familiar with Ev or if you wouldn’t really call yourself a “Hip Hop Head”, it might be harder for you to really appreciate all of the attention to detail heard on Cats and Dogs. As I stated earlier, if your ears aren’t on their toes, it’s easy for Ev’s flow to be overshadowed by some of the larger than life beats on the album. At the end of the day, Cats and Dogs isn’t a revolutionary body of work, but it is a solid addition to the weatherman’s discography that his fans will definitely enjoy.