Before the word "populist" lost all meaning, Evidence was exactly that: a tribune of the plebeians. He never claimed that title outright, preferring instead to go by Mr. Slow Flow, but Evidence did speak for the striving masses. His music foregrounded a working-class sliver of West Los Angeles that hadn't gotten due recognition.
If this sounds like voyeuristic misery porn, worry not: by his nature, Evidence is cautiously sanguine. No, he isn't shy about hammering home the injustices of hand-to-mouth living, but he doesn't exploit them, as a lesser artist might.
With his pockets newly greased and his legacy secure, now is the time for Evidence to rigorously challenge the confines of underground hip-hop; unfortunately, Weather or Not plays it safe. Not to put too fine a point on it, but the world doesn't lack for reverent simulations of De La Soul's Stakes is High.
Why foist this on a public that has already grown tired of bloopy bass lines ("10,000 Hours"), featherweight drums ("By My Side Too") and somnambulant pianos ("Bad Publicity")? In the video for "Jim Dean," Evidence cheerfully goes to town on a scratch-off lotto ticket. On camera and off, his workmanlike charm continues to flourish undiminished. Less endearing is the guy's phlegmatic formalism — so contagious that even the normally impassioned Styles P sounds bored and barely alert on "Love is a Funny Thing." (Rhymesayers)