Evidence is no slouch. In the two years since Dilated Peoples' last studio album, The Release Party, the West Coast lyricist has been recording at a dizzying pace. And his work ethic had paid off. Currently performing on the Rock the Bells tour in support of his Layover EP, Ev recently inked a deal with Slug's Rhymesayers label. 

Wasting no time, Ev is hard at work on his next solo venture, Cats and Dogs, and his upcoming collaboration with Alchemist, Step Brothers. XXLMag.com recently caught up with the busy wordsmith to discuss his new deal and why Rhymesayers is recession-proof, among other things.

XXLMag.com: Can you talk a little about the new deal?

Evidence: I signed with Rhymesayers for the next few albums hopefully.

XXL: Do you have a fixed number yet?

Evidence: Ideally, it would be three. The options are more on their choice than mine. Hopefully it works out, options get exercised, and we turn this into something bigger. My gut feeling is that I don’t think that Rhymesayers would invest in something that they’d really be interested in a one off from. Everything I’ve seen and the blueprint they’ve laid down with a lot of their artists have been long term investments. I think that’s where they’re actually becoming one of the recession-proof labels, is because of that investment. You have a lot of other labels trying to sign ten, fifteen things and throw ‘em all against the wall and the one that sticks is the one they promote. I don’t see that. I see an equal push happening with every artist, and it’s up to the artist to take it to the next level—and that’s really what I wanna do. What I’ve built up in the last two years as a solo artist I’m very proud of, and I just don’t wanna piggyback the movement. I’m proud to be part of this label, or this family, so to speak, but I wanna show independence within it. I wanna show Slug and [Brother] Ali and everybody that I have my own thing, too, and I want them to be proud of what I bring to the table. Not just, "This dude signed with us so he can get X, Y, Z fans," you know what I mean?

XXL: Do you think there’s gonna be some collaborations with other guys on the label?

Evidence: If it’s natural. I had Slug on The Weatherman LP and it was dope. Slug had never been on an Alchemist beat so I thought it would be really interesting, and the fans loved it. I would love to do a song with Ali, or Abstract Rude—he’s from the West Coast. There’s a lot of people. I just went to P.O.S.’ show in Amsterdam and I was completely blown back. So, whatever happens naturally. The same way that I want to work with Pete Rock naturally. If it happens, it happens, and if it doesn’t, I’m in the studio everyday with Alchemist.

XXL: You think this will open up some new outlets for you?

Evidence: I think so. It’s really just as willing as I am.

XXL: So you feel they’ll give you the resources that you need to make what you want to have happen, happen?

Evidence: I don’t think they would have taken it on otherwise. Saying I wanna make people proud is lame. So, I’m not gonna say I wanna make Rhymesayers proud, but I’m tryna make me proud. No disrespect, because this is the place I wanted to be and none other, but whether I went here or not, I’m still going on my mission. But the fact that I have this outlet now, maybe I wake up an hour earlier and go to sleep an hour later. It’s just really inspiring to be honest. And, I feel like I’m unique on the label. I don’t feel like there’s anyone who does what I do. So that’s what I can bring to the table, is just being me.

XXL: When can we expect the Cats and Dogs?

Evidence: In the first or second quarter of 2010. Technically, I have nine months from the paperwork being signed to turn it in. Ideally, I would like to go master my album January first and let it hit in March.

XXL: And what about Step Brothers?

Evidence: Don’t know. I know that the plan was Chemical Warfare and Cats and Dogs both have to come out before Step Brothers. He fulfilled his part and now it’s on me. In the meantime, we’re making a really great record and we’re gonna start leaking a lot of stuff. We’re just gonna be getting used to people seeing us together—whether it’s at Rock the Bells, on a blog, a collaboration, or wherever. Because, when Alchemist moved to New York—when he told us what he was gonna do and he did it—it wasn’t like Dilated Peoples and Alchemist really went out on the same path. We kind of stayed over here, and he went that way. But the fact that he’s help to bridge the gap and made it possible for people like Prodigy to even know who I am is crazy. And we’ve continued the underground strong to make sure that people know that Alchemist is a part of this team still and never left his family. Sometimes, you start talking about music, you sound like a mad scientist, because it’s nothing tangible that we can hold. It’s just a lot of great vibes and I appreciate everything.—Adam Fleischer