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When we talk about "evidence," we mean anything that can demonstrate the authenticity of a claim. Evidence the rapper opened up for North Carolina's Little Brother at Toad's Place last night - and no one can argue he's not the real thing. He's on tour promoting a solo album, but he's best known as one-third of Dilated Peoples, a left coast act associated with the full roster of underground greats.
On stage he was the consummate professional - crisp lyrics, solid stage presence, flawless delivery. The highlight of his set, in fact, listed practical tips on how to be a pro rap star. Drink your water room temperature so your throat doesn't seize up. Make friends with the sound guy. Use deodorant. Crafty stuff from this above-average performer, but the rest of his performance failed to get off the ground.
Evidence proves he's legitimate, and the name of his record - "The Weatherman LP" - suggests something predictive and forward-looking, but nothing he said on stage last night suggested he was aware that this is 2007 and not 1997.
Little Brother took the stage in a burst of energy, two portly southerners and a lithe R&B singer in a Kangol, and set about proving they had done their homework. They rhymed about the poverty line and Al-Qaida, navigated a heroic a cappella segment, beat-boxed and showed off with a gospelly call-and-response exchange that took serious pipes.
Competent and diverse, Little Brother lacked Evidence's discipline. The lyrics were lost, the songs went on too long and they didn't know how to talk to the audience. Maybe by the end of the tour, each act will have learned from the other.