Rebuilding Through Art: Aaron Evans DIY Columbus, OH HipHoppa on The Loose With a ‘Beautiful Disaster”
By Aaris A. Schroeder
Using non-traditional hip-hop beats blended smoothly with classic bars filled with expanded lyrical flow, Columbus, Ohio native, Aaron Evans, founder of Dove Ink Records (2001) started his career in music as a DJ and then began emceeing in ’08, he is slated to release his sophomore album, “Beautiful Disaster,” May ’16.
“I started as a DJ so my taste is very eclectic…but at the end of the day, I listen to most everything besides pop music and mainstream hip-hop. I find those two lanes of music to lack passion and heart.” says Evans whose favorite emcees are Brother Ali, Common, A Tribe Called Quest, Digable Planets, De La Soul and Busta Rhymes.
“I don’t miss having other people’s careers in my hands at all,” says Evans who is focusing on his own music career and glass-blowing craft. The label seems to have had its time, the record label had its “personal imprint” in Evan’s life even though he was never the sole contributor and in the industry and he doesn’t think it will ever be where it was way back when.
Evans is a bit of a HipHop Hippie (something that I can relate to) and has been growing his dreadlocks for 20 years. Eighteen months ago, he cut them off and shaved his head in a way to start fresh. Three months ago Evans decided to grow back his locks. He always told himself that he would grow them until he had his first child or until they touched the earth, which at that point, he would cut them off to start again.
“I came to see my dread[s] in the same light as deer antlers. They grow an adolescent set in and then [they] shed that set away when the time comes to grow their adult rack.” says Evans who believes that it doesn’t get more “OG than that.”
“I am pretty certain that I will be a dread til the day I die.” Evans explains who wonder how many times he will regrow his locks in his lifetime.
Evans was overdosed with anti-depressants by a negligent doctor, he tells UBO. He lost his mind and ended up in a mental institution to recover for a week. While in an abyss of detox, Evans had a vision.
“I had a vision for a positive HipHop label. So I teamed up with the amazing group of artist[s] I had around me and off we went. Illogic, Davu and a cat that New Yorkers now known as Gold Poo were the starting foundation [of Dove Ink Records] and then we built upon that.” says Evans who was a mess at the time but he reinvented himself through the label and the arts community around him.
HipHop has always been important in Evans’ life, you can see it in his music, production, past Djing experience and even naming his glass-blown pipes and bongs. You can see it in the way he maintains himself, checks himself and how he writes as a journalist. Evans easily picked up the skill of emceeing since he works around other talented emcees like Illogic, Racecar and Ill Poetic. In fact, his hit, “We All Work” on his first album that went viral on Youtube was one of the first 10 songs he ever wrote.
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“To me, Hip-Hop is a crossroads where jazz and funk meet drum breaks and 808’s; where Basquiat meets Banksy; where the grace of Swan Lake meets the braggadocios of the Jabberwockies.” reports Evans in an article entitle, “What is Hip Hop? ‘Access Hip Hop’” at NUG Magazine where he frequently has published some of his writings about music, art and glass blowing.
One artist that Evans worked with was Bru Lei who released, “Dangerous Styles” in ’08 through Dove Ink Records and is now a Sacramento-based emcee, who started his career and is a native to Columbus, OH in the beginning of the century now he has a successful emcee career in the Sacramento HipHop scene going on tours and working with several local artists on projects (ArtHotel, Video-Theatre CrazyHair and more projects arising).
“He seems to be doing really well out there. It always makes me happy to see the old fam flourishing.” Evans says.
Dove Ink Records is not where it was at its prime however Evans and others still maintain it and releases new work through the label. Evans released his first album, “Family Always Matters” was released in ’13 and now a sophomore album “Beautiful Disaster,” is set to release May ’16, featuring Illogic, Sojourn, JimmyPowers, Nomis, Numberman, OrkoEloheim with beats by Mr. Ridley. The album is reminiscent of the later golden age of indie HipHop, when groups like Dilated Peoples “I Ain’t The One” on “Imagery, Battle Rhymes and Political Poetry” released in ’95 and proves to be relevant still while producing a similar swag to T.I. And Talib Kweli on his song, “Sky Shit.”
“The new album is a bit more hardcore with its sonic range. My next project will return to my Mid-West funk roots,” Evans reports that he used Southern California producer Mr. Ridley (L.A. group, Anti-Citizens) of whom he has massive respect for and his talent.
“[Mr. Ridley is] just a monster of an artist. I can’t even put into words how much respect I have for his talent. He’s a complete fucking mad man but I find most geniuses are,” Evans admits.
Evans does not do too many collaborations nowadays. This is an ongoing happening in the underground Hip-Hop industry as artists are producing watered down collab-albums where an unknown artist pays for a “guest spot” on his album and the verse is not relevant to the song so it looses its strength as a stand-out track.
“I think modern Hip-Hop collaboration is often just kinda half-assed.” Evans shares.
Evans feels that his music is created to create change in a positive way. He can relate to Jack Kerouac who was a part of the “Beat Generation” from ’57-69. Kerouac was referred to as “The King of the Beat Generation” even though he denied this label, slating his belief in Jesus and his Catholic faith. Kerouac maintained an open mind and even studied Buddhism amongst other philosophies while writing, creating art and sharing his skills amongst others like him. Evans sees the human nature in Kerouac and it is relevant in his music.
“He was a really interesting cat… very wild but had a moral base.” Evans says.
Besides creating music and writing lyrics, Evans is a super talented glassblower. I know what you are thinking, and yes, he is exactly that. He blows anything from pipes to bongs, necklace emblems, decorative vases for flowers to lanterns. The intricate work he does can be seen in the amazing color blending and groupings, using lots of circles in the designs. Small “bubbles” artistically lay in near the base or tip of each pipe, creating a perfectly beautiful smoking apparatus.
“Personally, I’ve always found something mesmerizing, magical, even hypnotic, about a solid object that stays in a perpetual state of motion. Infinitely flowing as if it’s its own universe bound together by some unexplainable force, glass is a naturally occurring substance forged in the flames of volcanic fires, left behind by lighting strikes, and found after meteorites tumble through our atmosphere heating then rapidly cooling particular rock compounds.” Evans writes in an article entitled, “Perpetual Motion: An Exploration into the American Glass Blowing Culture” published in NUG Magazine, June ’11.
Being able to focus on his music and artistic craft of glass blowing, Evans admits that he let the “rockstar” lifestyle get to his head too much and has maintained staying sober from alcohol on his own since ’08.
“It hasn’t always been easy but it has been the best choice. I am pretty fucking proud of that.” Evans shares. He is; however, an advocate for medical cannabis and the community that surrounds it and the many benefits that help those in need.
Staying alcohol-free allows an individual time to truly reflect and spend quality time with those they love and working on what they need to be working on. In Evans case, this is music and art. His album, “Beautiful Disaster,” slated to be dropped May ’16 will come with a huge celebration and release party which he is still organizing and getting details put together. Of course, guests will be able to purchase an album and a glass pipe, for medical use, of course. And yes, UBO MAG will be reviewing this album, so stay tuned!
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