Grammy-winning producer and MC Evidence (aka Michael Perretta) just released his second full-length solo album, Cats & Dogs, on Rhymesayers Entertainment. Featuring guests Raekwon, Aesop Rock, Aloe Blacc, Atmosphere’s Slug, Prodigy of Mobb Deep and others, Cats & Dogs is a welcome return for the L.A. rapper, who came to fame as half of the critically acclaimed duo, Dilated Peoples.
Coming up as a graffiti artist and purveyor of hip-hop culture, Perretta’s B-boy cred has always been solid. Alongside MC Rakaa and DJ Babu, Dilated Peoples have been a fixture of West Coast hip-hop for nearly 15 years. But after releasing the excellent Weatherman LP in 2007 (and only mix tapes and EPs in the interim), fans now have the answer to when he’d be back with a proper follow-up. On Tuesday night, as part of the How the Grouch Stole Christmas Tour with fellow West Coast colleagues Grouch, Zion I and Eligh, he’ll be bringing the new music to Porter’s Pub on UCSD’s campus.
We recently spoke about the hiatus, the future of Dilated Peoples (although it was never in question), and the mojo behind the number 13.
Scott McDonald: How’s it going?
Michael Perretta: Good.
SM: Used to see you at the Belly Up a lot. Was at that show where your mic wasn’t working… MP: Aw, man. I knew you were gonna say that. I don’t even wanna…(laughs)
SM: That was still a great show, though. Crowd was NUTS. MP: Naw, I know, it’s just that was always the last stop on the tour. We’re all well behaved for the whole thing, and then on the last night, we all decide to get drunk because we’re excited, and then… (laughs)
SM: Cats & Dogs is out. Long time coming. MP: Well, I had ‘The Layover EP’ come out in 2008, a mixtape that followed that, and the ‘I Don’t Need love EP’ (Evidence vs. The Beatles) last year. But since it’s officially my second album, it’s easy to say 2007 to 2011 was kind of a jump. I had actually intended for it to come out last year, but a couple of personal things happened that made me not really want to be out there promoting something. And I think when an artist isn’t comfortable in their day-to-day, people can sense it. And I didn’t want to be out there saying ‘Buy my record’ when I wasn’t feeling like that. Now that things are back on track for me, happy to be dropping the record and touring it, I’m in a good place.
SM: I know you made the move to Rhymesayers for this record and I know you’ve worked with (Atmosphere MC and Rhymesayers CEO) Slug before. When did you know you were going to work with them? MP: I approached them after ‘The Weatherman’ in 2007-2008. It just wasn’t the right time. So, I did the next EP with Decon. I had gotten some offers from some other independents when I was working on ‘Cats & Dogs,’ so I went back to them to see if they were interested and could match what I was getting. Well, they were and they did. It’s been good. I’m not a typical Rhymesayers artist, but there are certain things about my ethics, what I do, and what’s represented, that are very similar. And I like it like that. I get to work with them, but I have my own thing going on.
SM: You’re working with The Alchemist again. MP: He was always going to co-executive produce this with me. And he worked on most of the Dilated records as well. So much of the time, he’s my filter. I’ll be on the fence about something and his opinion can make it or break it. Other times, he’s literally the guy that’s putting me together with people or creating a vibe that goes beyond actual production. And not to delve too much into the business side, but the rate that he gives me is a friend thing. So I look at it like here’s a guy who could get a lot more money than what’s he’s asking for with me, and it’s a critical part of me being independent to work with someone like him, but I could only really afford him when I was on the majors. So many times, when an artist gets off a major, they don’t have the budget for someone like him, and that hurts them. I’m just grateful I can still work with someone like that.
SM: Cool to know friendships can still trump finance sometimes. MP: Well, it is still a business and we’re trying not to go back to developing film. I don’t even know if people do that anymore, but that was my last job.
SM: How’d you hook up with (Producer/DJ/Gang Starr) Premier? MP: I’ve known him for a long time. We worked with him on the second Dilated album. We did a song called “Clockwork.” It wasn’t a single, but I’ve always wanted to have a Premier single. Even though I had a low budget, I reached out to him this time to see if he was interested and it worked out. He was with it. And he worked with me on the outro for this album as well. It was great.
SM: I read somewhere you guys were doing an entire project together. True or people just talking s---? MP: That’s just people talking s---. But that’s a good one. I hope they keep talking it. Maybe it’ll happen. That would be cool.
SM: (Dilated Peoples partner) Rakaa’s on this record, so it seems like things are good. New Dilated album soon? MP: It’s weird. People do solo records all the time. And it was always our intention to do projects of our own. We come from different sides of town and will always be a part of something bigger in Dilated. We couldn’t do it under our Capitol contract, so when we got out, we each started doing our own things as well. We want to let people know who we are as individuals. And that’s been fulfilled. So the next record will be a Dilated record. But we’ve toured Europe together a lot of times, whether it was on his record or mine. Doing these solo things have just been where it’s at.
SM: No #13 on this new record. You superstitious? MP: Naw, I’m a Mason. (laughs) Just kidding. That number’s just a taboo. The Masons never built a building with that floor and it’s just something that’s weird and I started thinking about. No one’s really ever left it off of an album, and I thought it’d be an interesting thing to do. It also exposes journalists when they start talking “Oh, the 17 songs on this album..” (laughs) Naw, man.
SM: What’s next? MP: Got this record, Rakaa’s record, and it’s not official, but a new Dilated album should be coming soon, and I’m working with DJ Babu and The Alchemist on a few things – everything I’m excited about is in-house right now. And that’s something not everyone can say.