Rewind a couple years back to Nas declaring hip-hop dead and see what was really missing then. It’s the same thing still conspicuously absent from mainstream rap and something Kanye announced he was bringing back last year before he apparently changed his mind about halfway into the recording process; boombap. The style and aesthetic so prevalent during the majority of the 90s, an era we now consider to be the golden age, seems close to extinction in 2011. Sure, there are emcees creating throwback rap, but that’s exactly it, looking back on it like that implies that the chapter ended some time ago.
One emcee who never let go of dope loops over serious kicks and snares is on third of the Dilated camp, Evidence. With Cats & Dogs he again weathers the storm and creates an album firmly rooted in vintage boombap without wallowing in nostalgia. Mr. Slow Flow utilizes confidently spit lyrics coupled with solid wordplay and the guest appearances (Dilated partner Rakaa, Raekwon, Roc Marciano, Prodigy, Lil Fame, Slug, Krondon, Aesop Rock and a vocal performance from the producer of the album’s larger part; The Alchemist) don’t dissapoint either. The topical range stays in a realm closely aligned to the aesthetic as well: graffiti, touring, bragging ‘n boasting and other familiar tropes. They’re all infused with Ev’s personality and strong technique but outside of these topics he’s successful as well. Tackling economic hard times on ‘Well Runs Dry‘ he delivers verses one can easily relate to while refraining of angling for cheap pathos.
There’s little new ground being broken on ‘Cats & Dogs‘ but straight from the start you hear an expert craftsman wholly comfortable in his surroundings at work. While some emcees wrangle themselves in unflattering sonic positions trying to reach crossover succes without really knowing what audience they’re crossing over to, Evidence proves there’s still plenty of room left in the old boombap framework. Keeping an eye on rap history Ev & Alan update the formula for the 21st century and breathe new life into the old beast. Cats & Dogs leave cuts and scratches with plenty of bite behind the bark.