It’s easy to forget that Evidence has been around since the late 1990s. The Los Angeles based rapper/producer played low-key the last few years. Cats & Dogs is only his second solo album since Dilated Peoples’ unofficial hiatus in ‘07.
If you’ve heard Ev’s previous work, this album won’t pack too many surprises—an that’s a good thing. He’s still spitting a measured slow flow backed by thumping beats and scratched hooks. This might sound like criticism, but salute Evidence for doing what he does well. That one flow keeps pace with churning strings on “Strangers” and matches Roc Marciano and Prodigy over the lurching keys of “Fame.”
Evidence’s Rozay-worthy ear for beats and complimentary guests keep the album listenable: DJ Premier gifts him a trademark bass-heavy banger with “You,” while Alchemist loops wailing soul for “The Red Carpet,” setting up reflective verses from Ev, Raekwon and Ras Kass. Sid Roams’ epic Rocky synths on “To Be Continued…” offer a perfect stage for Ev’s braggadocio, and “Late For The Sky” unites Ev with fellow underground greats Slug and Aesop Rock over reverberating guitar.
Though it runs a little long, Cats & Dogs is a banging, consistent platter that ought to satisfy backpackers and hard-rocks alike. —Aaron Matthews