When it comes to some of the best producer emcees to ever touch a mic. Venice Beach native, Evidence, is definitely near the top and also one of the most consistent as far as the quality of material he releases too. With his very critically-acclaimed, Weather or Not, completing his trilogy of weather themed solo album’s about two and a half years ago.
Evidence’s solo album’s are almost always virtually at the top or at the very least in the discussion for not only top Hip-Hop album’s, but top album’s of the year across all music. End of the year lists for whatever year they are released. With his newest just a few months ago released latest solo album, Unlearning Vol. 1. Another solo album looking on that same track.
An album that’s more of a reinvention of himself after his Weatherman trilogy of albums. The album features more demo tape type vibes and buttery smooth boom-bap production throughout all 14 tracks. Rather than a lot of the more sample-based, boom-bap production we are used to hearing on Evidence’s albums. That really allows the veteran Westcoast native. To really showcase his effortlessly impeccable slow-flow to go with his very authentic and relatable rhymes.
Starting with the very opening track. The Alchemist-produced, Better You. That shows Evidence with his very smooth flow, delivering the hard hitting very reflective bars and lyrics. Such as, “If the world turns their back then I’m up against the wall. I ain’t falling. I follow the call. I hear voices. I make choices. Decide outcomes. Things I say about me, people thinks about them.” That we always come to expect from him over the very eerie and hard hitting Alchemist production. Another really relatable authentic track being the Animoss-produced single, Pardon Me. Where Evidence spits such clever and insightful rhymes as, “Hard act to follow in this little shop of horrors. You ain’t promised tomorrow. I’m just getting started. Old head still gettin’ carded. Never written off or disregarded. Guess I’m just an artist. I still paint like it’s different drawings. It’s where the art is. Locked in to get my pardon.” It’s funny too cause though there is a lot of emcee’s and/or rapper’s who fall off with age. There is also exceptions. As Evidence proves here of certain artists like himself, who only get better with more experience and age.
Unlearning Vol. 1, is also an album that like most of Evidence’s albums find him collaborating with a lot of people. But this time more so on the outside production side rather than with guest features. Production from the likes of longtime friend and collaborator, Alchemist. As well as Sebb Bash, Nottz, Animoss, Mr. Green, Daringer, Khrysis, V Don and EARDRUM. Flowing and sequencing together so perfectly. That you would think the whole album was either produced all by Evidence himself or just one producer, who produced the whole album for him.
Though this new album features more Evidence and not as many guest features as we are used to hearing on his album’s. From Boldy James to Conway the Machine, Fly Anakin, Murkage Dave and Navy Blue. They do come in handy and really complement the flow of the album rather well.
A perfect example of this being the very standout and soulfully cinematic self-produced, All of That Said. Where the undeniable chemistry and thought-provoking rhymes between both Evidence and Boldy James. Not only shows off such great camaraderie that sounds like they have been collaborating for years, but also sounds like it could be a part of a big blockbuster movie. Another example of this being, Conway the Machine. On the Daringer-produced, Moving On Up. The slow piano-laden production perfect for both Evidence and Con’s slow paced flows on the track. With Evidence spitting such standout bars as, “I wrote this on the first thing I could find to write it. On an envelope, I never opened up inside it. I’m a writer, so my hand is guided. I don’t fight it, attract the company that I invited. It’s from a higher source and I of course am enlightened. Bringing all the thunder and the lightning. Wondering about the moves I made and all the shade I curved. It’s like they don’t react to actions, they relate to words.” While The Machine closes the track with such standout lyrics as, “I go to places where you need your toast and drove a spaceship (Uh-huh). Your flow is basic, think you’re fucking with me, you smokin’, basin’. I’ve been low on patience with these rappers, yeah, I’ve grown impatient. The pole is blazin’, I slide on niggas like stolen bases (Boom, boom, boom, boom). God blessed me with opportunity, they hope I waste it. I don’t know why niggas be so focused on hopeless hatin’ (Ha). Niggas ain’t even relevant, me and Evidence most prevalent (Uh-huh). The flow is heaven sent, it’s evident. The most benevolent, rocking my Fashion Rebel lettermen (Woo). Got duct tape and rope in the same trunk I keep a shovel in (Talk to ’em).”
As the album transitions into the second half. Evidence gets really honest on very stripped down tracks such as, the Khrysis-produced, Talking To the Audience and Eardrum-produced, All Money 1983. Where he spits such honest lyrics as, “Nothing halfway about me’s what I’m here to reveal. I’m cold blooded if they doing me dirt. God’s plan. I’m just doing the work. Smoked a joint at Harun in Leimert. All my people do influence the word. Love get ya. And the truth gonna hurt. Fvck complacent. Cause anger is the king of inspiration. Embarrassment. Things we all been facing. I played the humble till the wolves came out the jungle. I’ve seen kings fall. And empires that crumble.” On the latter track.
Overall, Unlearning Vol. 1. Is an album where Evidence really pours out all of his heart and soul into each bar and lyric throughout all 14 tracks. With it really being most prevalent on the latter part of the album and the final four tracks. Starting with the very soulfully loop heavy Nottz-produced standout, Lost In Time (Park Jams). A personal favorite of mine from the album. That you can even put up a pretty good argument for being the best track on the album. With how effortlessly Evidence raps on the track. Spitting such relatable and honest lyrics he pours his heart out with as, “My imagery defines all my image and my likeness. My symmetry’s aligned. So they can’t mimic me in cyphers. Or limit me.” That perfectly seguing into the very uplifting self-produced, Delay the Issue. That features not only another really honest and relatable verse from Evidence. But a just as honest and heartfelt guest verse from Fly Anakin. With such bars as, “Circulate like the Sunday paper. This the money maker, we can lay up like Lakers. And scale acres on the purest caper. Never now, it’s always later with you. Delay the issue make official calls blowing whistles. At this foul shit the way the game was played. Never seen a day without a spliff to face. Float away from this chaotic shit I been bothered with. I copped the Lyft, the least you can do is stop acting modest b*%^h.” Yet another standout being the very eerie V Don-produced, Taylor Made Suit. That really lets Evidence show off his very impeccable slow-flow and vividly honest lyrics. Such as, “I had a close homie tell me, “don’t write my life and write some happy shit” Like. What keeps me up at night is average. Like”you don’t need to make it personal”. I took it personal. The words been irreversible. Just spun it back. Thought to myself. How dumb is that? Like. Everything that comes to me ain’t from my raps. Like. What I cook up ain’t that coke to crack. Tailor made suit. The coat I copped ain’t off a rack.” The album then closes out with the very amazing Sebb Bash-produced, Where We Going From Here.. A track that has Evidence giving very inspiring rhymes and retrospectively reflective dope bars. That is the perfect way to close out such a timeless amazing masterpiece album.
An album that may eventually be even recognized as Evidence’s best work to date. Unlearning Vol. 1, is not only arguably the best Hip-Hop album released so far this year. But among the top album’s released across all of music. That should make plenty of year-end lists and be in rotation for myself and many others for quite some time. As well as an album that shows why he continues to be one of the best and most consistent emcees and producers in all of Hip-Hop for nearly the last 15 years. That doesn’t look to be slowing down anytime soon either.