Although artists today aren't selling nearly as many records and CDs as they were several years back, it is can still be a positive time for them, provided that they can maintain an open mind and realize how to fully utilize and fine-tune the digital age's technologies to their advantage. Case in point is the SoCal emcee EV (aka Evidence of legendary LA hip-hop trio Dilated Peoples' fame), who recently released his debut solo album The Weatherman LP on Oakland's ABB Records (the same label that launched Dilated's career before they signed with Capitol Records). He has witnessed firsthand hip-hop going from being less mainstream, or as he called it, "like the black version of punk rock," to become the pop music form that it is today.
Evidence's "Mr Slow Flow" video from "The Weatherman LP"
EV, however, still holds tight to rap's punk-like DIY ethic of old and considers new online digital entities like YouTube and MySpace as perfect tools to do-it-yourself and build a fan base from the ground up. "Right now there are only a few outlets that are selling music on a major level. A lot of these stores are closing down. And only two or three rappers went platinum last year. Things are different. It's changing," said EV by phone recently. "It's a changing tide and you've got to figure out how to stay in your ship without sinking in it -- to weather the storm, so to speak, within these next couple of years, because there will be a new outlet, but right now people are scrambling, trying to figure out what to do. So with MySpace and YouTube and a lot of the other dope dot coms and what have you, there's a lot of ways to be heard. Especially doing shows live and networking and gigging and getting out in front of the people and letting them decide how you are live."
When his label offered to run his MySpace account (as is often the case with artists of a certain level), EV insisted on maintaining it himself, even if it took a lot of time out of his daily schedule. He says that he is online on his MySpace account 3, 4, 5 or more times a day! "I'm really responding to people every single day. Back in the day we had fan-mail and I didn't necessarily get to answer it, but now I do. And I get a face attached with the letter. I can go click on their world and see what they're liking. So I might say 'Oh, they like that artist and they like me! Maybe I can go work with them now?' So it's really connecting everything together. And the best part about it is that when I get out and do these shows and instores I'm seeing a lot of these same people I've already been talking to and I recognize them. It's great!"
Dilated Peoples' fans should note that there will be a new DVD titled The Release Party (as in, being released from their major label contract) dropping on July 31st. In the meantime, below is a quck video excerpt from the hip-hop crew's past Amoeba Music Hollywood instore (featuring Babu getting busy on the cuts) in support of Dilated's Neighborhood Watch release.