BY: NIKI VALENCIA
Growing up, the term "family" is associated with the people eating dinner aside us at the kitchen table. They're our parents, viciously yelling at us to be in bed at an unreasonable early time; the sisters who "borrow" our clothes; the brothers who nag us on a constant basis for undeserved attention. For Michael Perretta, more famously known as Evidence from the hip-hop group Dilated Peoples, family is his group of friends who prove the phrase "blood is thicker than water" to not always be true.
"I have a lot of family that don't act like it and I have a lot more friends that show more love than family. It's all in your actions and the willingness to accept people for better or worse and who they are," said Evidence.
Come Aug. 26, Evidence will bring his notion of family in his songs from his upcoming solo album, "Cats & Dogs", to the picturesque stage of the Greek Theatre for the appropriately-titled"Family Vacation Tour".
Enclosed in one of Los Angeles' historical community spots, Griffith Park, The Greek Theatre will bring together beat makers DJ Babu, Blueprint and Prof. Head lining the tour is the well-known indie rap group Atmosphere.
"It's my second time playing at the Greek Theatre, so to do it with Atmosphere now and to have built up a support group in Los Angeles of people is amazing," said Evidence.
Evidence sits in his studio on a warm mid-summer Monday afternoon as he gears up for the tour alongside Dilated Peoples' member DJ Babu.
"I'm scratching my head on the set list right now. It's the only thing I'm questioning," said Evidence to me over the phone. "It's a testament of which song is most important," he continued.
Strong emotions and conscious thoughts flow through Evidence's mind as anticipation steadily grows to be performing in his hometown of Los Angeles. It's the same city where he roamed around as a kid; the setting for a majority of his life; and a constant inspiration for the underground raps he is most known for.
"The imagery of L.A. is what I picture when I write and make music. The beach plays a tremendous role in my life, it always has. Things like the marine layer, waiting till 2 or 3 p.m. for the sun to come out. That's what it's about," described Evidence in a thoroughly passionate tone.
As he speaks of taking stage, Evidence openly admits to experiencing both feelings of joy and fear, and everything in between.
"It's boundary pushing to be playing in Los Angeles and, when that happens, it's natural to be antsy about it when you overly replay it in your mind. I'm really excited about it though," he continued.
Fans can expect to see Evidence with his Dilated Peoples' partner, DJ Babu, for their opening set together.
"There will be a lot of interaction between Babu and I and we always pride Dilated. He's cutting it up live so to have him part of the set is a huge highlight. Him and I will be the purest section of the show," proclaimed Evidence.
"The Family Vacation Tour" is Evidence's first road escapade since signing with Minneapolis-based label Rhymesayers Entertainment. Formerly signed on Capitol Records with Dilated Peoples, Evidence has temporarily branched out of the three-member group in the pursuit of his own musical realm. Most notably, back in 2004, Evidence won a Grammy award for his co-production on Kanye West's "College Dropout" album.
"As a solo artist, to build something new you have to put down the ego you built up over the years and deflate a little bit to build up a new brand," described Evidence. "I'm definitely hungry with a purpose and I'm comfortable with the lane I'm driving in."
Evidence's latest album, "Cats & Dogs", is his second solo project set to release in stores Sept.27– a solid four years after his first solo album, "The Weatherman LP".
"I definitely think I improved my rapping abilities in the last couple of years," he said. "My flow has gotten better and I pay attention to patterns more now because it helps listeners to enjoy themselves."
Not only has Evidence grown into his rapping style, but also the content of his verses are explicitly more open for listeners to understand and relate to.
"The ‘Weatherman LP' and ‘Cats and Dogs' are both pretty similar in approach. 2010 was a hard year for me personally and it was hard to make a decision how much to disclose and how much to open up with people," explained Evidence. It's all relevant to my life and about the ability to close a book and say ‘this is what was happening' and then putting it down and saying ‘next'".
Evidence may be currently preoccupied with the Family Vacation Touras well as the upcoming release of his new albumbut future plans to reunite Dilated Peoples' are set in stone. The group already plans to drop an album next year entitled "Directors of Photography".
"I love everything we've done- both solo and as a group. We're three people who are down for each other. It's not about money or getting with each other's girlfriends. We love each other on a creative mission," said Evidence.
In the meantime, as families in the city of Los Angeles will venture off into Griffith Park for memory-making moments, hip-hop artist Evidence will be doing the very same with his musical family of fellow Rhymesayer's artists.
"(Rap group) Atmosphere has build up something amazing with the same approach that Dilated did and I'm building up something new and they're letting me get a shot with their people. So try to catch me at this performance, it will mean a lot to see people I know immersed in the crowd."