2011 in Review, best projects of the year: #1 Evidence – Cats and Dogs

Artist: Evidence

Album: Cats & Dogs

Finally, the number one spot, and it goes to E-V, Mr. Evidence. What a great album from him. A great follow up to his debut The Weatherman LP. The long-anticipation was well worth it as Ev drops a head-nodding, beat-knocking banger! The reasons behind Cats & Dogs being the best project/album of 2011 was simple, it exceeded expectations, which were pretty high to begin with. The album’s mixture of dope rhymes with doper beats equals an unreal, dope combination. Not only is it the album of the year but it also contains the best beat of the year, – maybe one of the dopest beats I’ve heard in the past few years.

EV has been one of my favorites rappers for a while now. I liked him in Dilated Peoples but he really became a dope emcee, to me, when he started his solo career in 2007. As soon as I heard his Weatherman LP, I was instantly hooked. I wanted more tracks from him. The Layover EP held his fans down while we waited for the release of Cats & Dogs. It took almost three years but damn, was it worth it.

The album artwork is dope too. The piece was on display at the Museum of Contemporary Art in LA and it shows a bunch of signs for lost cats and dogs, perfect fitting for the album title.

The album is dope. When I mean dope, I mean dope, from start to finish.  From “The Red Carpet” with Raekwon and Ras Kass to “It Wasn’t Me” to “Late For the Sky” with Slug and Aesop Rock to “Falling Down” etc. Each individual song is dope. The production is top notch. Beats from Alchemist, Premier, Rahki, Sid Roams, Twiz the Beat Pro, Charli Brown to Ev himself, the selection is great. Interestingly enough, there isn’t a thirteen track, there has never been an album that had a missing track like this, very creative Ev. The reason behind that is a reference to Ev believing there wasn’t a thirteen floor in the World Trade Center. Ev is known to have a different theory as to what happen to the World Trade Center back in 2001.

The album starts off with “The Liner Notes” with Aloe Blacc. Ev said in an interview that he doesn’t like naming the first song of an album “Intro” or the last song of the album “Outro.” A quick warm up from Evidence with no hook, no chorus just a greeting to his fans, welcoming them back to his album. We also get a reminder that “Ev is here staying”, yes!! Evidence can be in this rap game for as long as he wants. Aloe’s short yet beautiful singing gives this Alchemist beat a nice compliment

Strangers” is an interesting track to say the least. Evidence hooked up with newcomer Twiz the Beat Pro, who he worked with on his I Don’t Need Love project and you can see that they have some good chemistry. Ev raps “If there’s one thing I learned that I’ve written down on paper is never leave weed on a table with a stranger”. Very wise words from one of the highest out there. Evidence continues the no hook on the track as he just has scratches from DJ Revolution, much like he had on “Mr. Slow Flow” off The Weatherman LP.

And now for the main event, “The Red Carpet” with two legends, Raekwon the Chef and Ras Kass in one of the hardest, dopest, beat I’ve ever heard from Ev’s go to producer, best friend, and fellow Step Brother, The Alchemist. I’ve wanted to hear this track ever since he posted a short preview of it on YouTube, I can say this, I wasn’t disappointed. Ev, once again, just rhymes with his trademark slow flow. Ev said in an interview that he doesn’t know how many bars he rhymed for, however, interestingly enough, Raekwon was able to match his number of bars. The story behind getting Rae featured on the track is also quite interesting. Evidence said that Rae asked for a chicken parmesan sandwich in return for his guest verse. Ev has a good verse, rapping and reflecting about life and growing up, helping his friends out financially, as well as playing around with the concept of his name, Evidence, rapping: “It’s hard squeezing life in a sentence and if I do roll carpet with the red tint, my entrance is what’s between when I exit, it’s Evidence left on the scene”. However, I think Raekwon stole this song with his verse. With opening bars like “I’m like the Emmitt Smith of rhyming, Jack Dempsey emcee”, you know you’re going to get some dope shit. Rae shuts it down with mob boss-like verse, straight dope. Not to take anything away from Ras Kass who also had a good verse. Ev proved he could hold it down with some ill rappers.

The beat. Oh. My. God. Let me speak on the beat for a minute (Ready, GO!). ALC has been silently killing beats for the past few years yet he hardly gets acknowledged by the public because the mainstream doesn’t hear his shit. The sample of “God Saves America” is beautiful. Al always finds crazy samples and chops them up brilliantly. This beat bangs, really bangs. If you ever want to test your speakers out, this song is a good fit. Thank you Alchemist, all of us appreciate this AMAZING and DOPE beat.

It’s hard to follow that but Ev does with “It Wasn’t Me”. Composed of a dope beat provided by Rahki, Ev spits about three different topics: females, graffiti and the Buket TKO situation, and the origin of his name. The song is dope. The fact that Evidence finally touches on the Buket TKO situation is because of the rumor that he in fact was him. The coming-out party of proclaiming that him and Cyrus were Buket TKO together is mind-blowing for the fact that they covered so much ground spreading the tag. Also, the origin of his name was a great thing as well. Giving credit to will.i.am for his name is huge, because not that many fans know of will.i.am pre-Black Eyed Peas and just see him as this mainstream star.

While on “I Don’t Need Love”, Ev gets personal by speaking on the night when he heard about his mother’s passing. Evidence’s verse is very emotional, not that many rappers are able or willing to open up on such a subject. I guess has been through many emotional roller coaster relationships that he is just giving up on love saying he doesn’t need it like others might.

You” is one of the singles of the album and was produced by the legendary DJ Premier. The track is catchy as it repeats “you” through the song including on the hook saying, “Who’s the one that’s been running the race? Me. Who’s the one that’s been running in place? You.” It’s kind of clever how many times Ev uses the word “one” on the final verse, apparently he uses it over 50 times during that verse. Evidence also throws a shot at Charlie Sheen, which is comical.

The following songs are good songs but I don’t think they are better then the ones I have expanded on or will talk about: “Crash”, “Fame” with Roc Marciano and Prodigy, “James Hendrix” with ALC, “Well Runs Dry” with Krondon, and “Where You Come From” with Rakaa, Lil’ Fame, and Termanology.

The combination of Evidence, Slug and Aesop Rock give one of the album’s bangers “Late For The Sky” a nice variety. Ev even says a line that Jay-Z later swagger jacks on his guest verse on J.Cole’s debut album saying, “I’m actually in trouble, kind of acting 7:30”.

To Be Continued…”, (can’t forget the ellipsis!,) follows the missing-yet-strategically-misplaced thirteen track. The song was over a year old when it dropped but it still goes hard! The opening lines of the track is Ev claiming his stay “Ten commandments, twenty-our hours, the thirteen floor was missing in the towers, Hmm, I though I shouldn’t be here”.  I also like the rhyme “Happy fourth of July, on my street every year they fucking light up the sky” referring to the annual gun-shot-in-the-hair to celebrate the nation’s independence that always seems to make the LA newscast.

Falling Down” is like the perfect song for Ev’s Weatherman nickname. The hook fits him so nicely: “falling from out of the sky, it’s falling down on me! Rain come down, fall down”.  Evidence also shows his uniqueness by saying he does what others won’t do and that helps define him. The last verse seems dark like a rainstorm, kind of fitting for the song. He brings up financial issues where he needs some money just to owe more, saying you’re thirty dollars short of twenty.

The closing track “The Epilogue” produced by Premier is a good way to end an album. The song has a dope beat from Premier that I like much more than “You”. Plus, Ev has some memorable quotables such as “Hate to use His name in vain, but God damn!” and “my grandmamma said the day is what you make it, clinging to this patience, my words are overstated, THE GREATEST!” What an interesting way to end the album with those two words. Ironically, those two words can describe 2011’s album of the year debate by saying Cats and Dogs is the greatest.

Overall, Evidence continues with his consistent catalog of dope products. That is one of the many reasons why every time Evidence mentions an upcoming project, I can’t help but anticipate it because I know what Ev is capable of and usually I am still blown away because he surpasses my expectation. Ev, you did it again.

Well, there you have it, my five favorites projects/albums of the year, concluding with Evidence’s Cats and Dogs.

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