West Coast emcee Pawz One and South Texas emcee Evolve have joined forces for a new EP titled “Random Act of Violence.” Released by Below System Records, Random Act of Violence is a sinister body of work that blends battle rap, boom bap, and curious commentary on the status quo.
The 8-track EP features guest appearances by Copywrite, DJ Eyeball, and FredEx. Random Act of Violence is produced by FredEx, EQ, Goomson, Preed One, Rob Rockly, Breeze, and Diseize84.
The Real Hip-Hop talked to Pawz One and Evolve about why they’ve given up on trying to save Hip-Hop, conspiracy theories, and their new album, Random Act of Violence.
TRHH: How did you two get together to decide to do an album?
Evolve: Well shit, I met Pawz years ago at SXSW. We had done a track before and shot a video in L.A. while I was out there. Pawz just presented beats that he had in stock and we decided it was time to do a little project. This is the introductory project for us as a group. It was a no-brainer, man. Pawz is dope. A fucking west coast OG. We just banged it out and let it do what it does.
Pawz One: We did the song that came out on his project and then we did another one. I was telling him that I wanted to do a project together but it was just a timing thing. My boy sent me a bunch of beats and we wrote it all to his beats and my boy was open to having some remixes done. So, we finished his version and we sent his stuff out and got it done by a bunch of other different producers. We’re already planting the seeds to work on something new completely produced by one person, like a Stu Bangas or something like that. We’ll do another 5 or 6 song EP.
TRHH: How’d you come up with the name Random Act of Violence?
Pawz One: I had just wrapped up a project I did with Mykill Miers called Double Homicide. The Random Act of Violence project wasn’t necessarily timed. You want to time it out, but shit isn’t always perfect. In this case it was kind of random. I was watching a documentary on the Son of Sam and they said the phrase “random act of violence” and I said, “There it is. That’s the perfect title.” It was out of the blue.
Evolve: It just seemed to work out. When shit falls in place you just run with it, so we just ran with it.
TRHH: The single “Sixteen Shots” features Copywrite. How did that collab come about?
Pawz One: Copy has been dope for a long time. He did a tour with Ras Kass maybe two years ago. We had been following each other. Something happened to me personally and he saw the post. He reached out on some non-rap shit. I was like, “Okay, he’s a real dude. He can rap, but he’s solid.” Everybody that I know that knows him have nothing but good things to say. I saw him say he was working and I was like, “Alright, cool.” We had that song in mind. We didn’t have a song where we went back to back. We figured let Copy do his thing and we’ll just throw the ball back and forth.
TRHH: On the song “Project Called Mayhem” you speak about injustices in the country and on the hook you say, “Light the flags on fire.” And also, at the end you say, “We won’t be happy ‘till it all burns down.” Why do you believe that destroying the system is the only way to fix it?
Pawz One: It’s one of those things in my opinion that it’s a very, very slow process of trying to work your way into the infrastructure. Just dealing with human beings, after a while you can only say things so many times before you punch them in the mouth. Usually that will correct somebody’s attitude. It’s unfortunate. I wish it wasn’t that way, but a lot of times that’s what it takes. I find that change happens more often approaching things that way as opposed to being diplomatic and civil. In a perfect world, yeah, that would work.
Evolve: Sometimes you gotta fight fire with fire. Where I’m from it’s a sad state of affairs. I’m from the border. I’m way down at the tip of Texas. I’m in the Rio Grande Valley and I see a lot of immigrants pass. Literally in my backyard there are detention centers. I’ve seen a lot of injustice when it comes to how people get treated. Basically, where I’m from doesn’t make it in the news until it’s something negative. There was a flurry of so much going on at the same time when they started building these camps. As much as you try to do they still hold you back. I used to go and try to drop off clothes and certain things and they wouldn’t let us get close.
They have military troops outside guarding shit, so they’re basically keeping you out so you won’t see how people are treated. I think both of us are just kind of frustrated with the situation. We’ve seen a lot of injustice where black people are being shot down, people of color are being disrespected, murdered and maimed. Me being Latino too, you can say so much until you act. I think us as emcees we have the mouthpiece to be able to relay the message and at least help in that way. As a vessel that’s as much as we can do, at least put it out there and let people know they ain’t alone.
TRHH: There is a song called “Holograms and Hollow Tips” that seemed a little bit paranoid to me talking about lizard people and missing kids…
Pawz One: [Laughs] I’m not a conspiracy theorist, but I am aware of them. Honestly, I find a lot of them entertaining. But you can definitely go down a rabbit hole and connect things that have absolutely no connection what so ever. There are some things that I do believe. It’s exactly what you said, it’s that paranoia of. It’s the “what if?” We could be living in a simulation pretty much. If you give thought to it or try to imagine it, taking that ride is a scary movie from “Yo, I’m selling coke and fuckin’ these bitches!” Go down this road for a second, try to imagine this, and what if it’s not far from true?
Evolve: I think nowadays it’s a conspiracy theory until it happens, because so much shit is going on. You don’t know what to think any more like, yo, we didn’t think that would happen and it fucking happened. I’m not a conspiracy theorist by any means also, but you see certain things going on and you’re aware. It’s not that you’re paranoid, but you have to think about certain things that might come to fruition.
Pawz One: In my verse I was talking about that just trying to illustrate Hollywood. So, literally I’m talking about Hollywood using Hollywood. It’s pretty much like a movie for the blind. People are able to listen to it and visualize it. In Hollywood you’re chasing holograms, but people really die out here from the hollow tips. Like I said about the child stars, I’m literally driving through Skid Row and downtown right now, you see it. Your eyes are on it. There are people out here who came from Ohio with hopes of being somebody. They’re either working at the Starbucks out here or they’re giving blowjobs around the corner over here.
Evolve: That’s the route I took on my verse speaking on that side of it. The naïve people think that they have to go somewhere to do something and they end up on Skid Row giving blowjobs for pennies and shit. It’s like the loss of innocence, that’s the route I took. These people will take advantage of you, send you on your way, put fucking dreams in your head, and never deliver. You’ve already sucked their dick so they don’t need you. You’re disposable at that point.
TRHH: On the song “Valtures” there is a lyric that says “No need to rant and rave over a culture I can’t save.” Explain what you mean by that line.
Pawz One: For a period of time I put on a cape and the tights and I tried to save Hip-Hop. I was anti-pay-to-play, this radio DJ is wack, I was very vocal about stuff. There was a lot of people that agreed with me and there was a lot of people that were cheering me on, but when it came time to make actual stances and not go to certain venues and not do certain things, nobody stepped up. I realized I’m an asshole for that. I was entertaining to them for the time being, but in reality, they didn’t want to see that change. Even though they agreed they weren’t willing to do anything. El Da Sensei from The Artifacts pointed it out to me, “We agree with you but we can’t say it publicly. You make a lot of silent enemies that way.” I was oblivious to that. I didn’t know.
There are a lot of people that work behind the scenes to blackball you from opportunities and things like that. That’s why I said, “There’s no reason to rant and rave over a culture that I can’t save. I’m not going to sit here and waste the rest of my years and try to defend Hip-Hop as a culture, as a religion, as something that I believe in, and live and die for. I did that for a period and I realized that the people that pumped me up to do that don’t do shit. All right, I’m not doing that anymore.
Evolve: They’re quick to run the other way. I got blackballed here where I’m from because I told the younger generation don’t pay a G or two to open up for some big name and they don’t give a flying fuck and you’re not even supposed to be there. You can go and buy merch, print up CD’s, USB’s whatever you got. Make something tangible, put it in people’s hands where they can remember you instead of paying these promoters and putting money in their pocket for no apparent reason, other than they’re a promoter and they can put you on three hours before the show even starts. People are just trickling in and they’re just taking advantage of you.
That line always resonated with me when he said that because I was at the same point where I was like, “I’m gonna save Hip-Hop, who’s coming with me?” and everybody turns their fucking back. Then you’re just like, “Fuck, okay.” You kind of do a lot of damage to yourself. There are certain things you can’t say because there are people behind the scenes who will say, “Don’t fuck with that guy.” We’ve all been victims of that to some extent for speaking our minds and trying to do good by the culture that raised us, acknowledges us, and accepts us, but at the same time it’s like if you say something out of line to them they’re quick to turn their backs on you.
TRHH: Who is the Random Act of Violence album made for?
Pawz One: For the angry. If it resonates with them and if they tune in and subscribe to what we’re saying. On Valtures there’s people waiting for you to drop so they can feed on you. Not necessarily preying on you, but they’re waiting for you to drop. Holograms and Hollow Tips, they’re preying on you and setting you up for failure. Project Called Mayhem is hey, let’s just burn it down and start over if you’re made about this or that. Write of Passage is basically saying hey, look we’re not the average. We’re not even the guys that say we’re not the average, because we didn’t say that on there. On Bo Jackson we’re just saying we’re extraordinary. There’s a couple things on there where we did the typical rap thing and said, “Hey, we’re better than you.” For the most part, every other song was about a topic. They’re for whoever they touch really. It’s a balled fist. If it makes somebody else ball their fist then I did my job.
Evolve: Certain people hit you up and say this song resonates with them and this song resonates with somebody else. It’s a little something for everybody in there. I think it’s basically for the disenfranchised. The people that are tired of dealing with bullshit, but at the same time they’re like, “Yo, we’re still here!” We all started out as fans of Hip-Hop. If it resonated with you when you were a kid what are you going to do? Growing up I wanted to be fucking Chuck D and Ice Cube. Ice Cube, fucking Amerikkka’s Most Wanted and The Predator. They open your eyes to a certain aspect of life that you might not deal with at the moment because you haven’t been to Cali. But it opens your eyes to that part of life and that part of the universe that you slowly understand, okay, this is how it’s from there. And you get there and you’re like, “Holy shit. It is like that. Cube wasn’t lying.” Chuck D called it the ghetto CNN and shit, that’s how you get your point across. We’re lucky enough to be able to add to that and people actually respect us for it, dig it, and actually take something from it. I’ve always been able to say we make relatable music so people can understand it and walk in your shoes for at least that one song.