For many artists, bumping into one of the industry’s brightest stars and being given the opportunity to join them on the ride of a lifetime is merely a pipe dream. It was for former Black Wall Street affiliate Richie Evans — once known as Juice — as well. After handing The Game a demo, though, his life changed forever.
As he celebrates his new single “One Time” and prepares to drop his official debut LP later this year (after more than a decade’s wait), he recounted to HipHopDX how it all started. “I was trying to put together a mixtape,” he recalls of the fateful night. “I was walking into the studio, and my baby mom called to tell me that she was pregnant.”
Unable to focus, he told his engineer to burn him a CD of the material they had completed so far. “I said, ‘Listen, man, I don’t really think I’m a record the night, but go ahead and burn me a disk of some of the records that we got done.’ I wanted to vibe to them.”
He decided to hit popular Phoenix club CBNC — which had ties to super-producer Swizz Beatz. “I had one disk in my pocket, and I saw Game in the VIP area. I walked up, and of course, security stopped me, and they were like, ‘Yo, what’s up?’ I said I wasn’t trying to cause any issues, no problems, no nothing. I want to give [the demo] to him,” he explained.
Game’s manager told Evans that he could leave the demo with him, but that didn’t sit right with the rapper. He waited for an opportunity when Game moved to the bar area and hopped in VIP to make his move.
“I went up to tap his shoulder and security got to grabbing me up right quick, and Game jumped in fightback mode,” he says. “It was just like a crazy experience … I just told him, I wasn’t coming in here to cause no chaos or fuck up the vibe.”
“I was like, man, I just found that I’m about to have a kid today,” he continues. “And I’m just pushing the line.” Game took the tape, and moments later left the club. “The next day I got a phone call and a plane ticket … it was a crazy, crazy experience.”
“He was like at the peak of his career,” he notes. “He was fresh off of The Documentary, and we ended up working on the Doctor’s Advocate. It was just a great situation. I learned so much. He took me across the world and taught me how to create a great body of work.”
“He was my Dr. Dre,” he says bluntly.
Unfortunately, Evan’s solo endeavors didn’t roll out as planned. Being in the midst of his fallout with 50 Cent and G-Unit — as well as a host of other unforeseen elements at play — not only held up Game but stifled those under him.
“There just came a time where I felt like I learned enough and grabbed jewels,” he says of the amicable split with Black Wall Street. “I felt like for me to stand on my own, I had to get out from under his umbrella … [Not in a] negative sense, more like going from high school to the league. Now I want to put some points on the board.
As for the dropping the name Juice, Evans just wanted to have a clean slate. “There were so many dark clouds,” he explains, pointing to the beef and even the Jimmy Henchman situation as examples. “Plus, there is nothing more real than the name your Mama gave you,” he adds with a laugh.
A motivating factor to maintain a focus on ultimately telling his story was watching some of his peers such as Nipsey Hussle, Kendrick Lamar, Jay Rock, and Ab-Soul — all people he’s worked with — ascending the ranks to fame.
For Evans, everything is coming full circle. “I got my imprint called the Evans Administration … it’s distributed through Priority,” he says. “Being signed to somebody for so long and having all your business going through somebody else, you know, I wanted all my business to go through me. Now, nothing gets done without at least my consent or my signature on anything.
“We got the new single just dropped called ‘One Time’ featuring Eric Bellinger,” he continues, “and now we’re off to the races.”
“I want my vision to come to light, that was the reason why I took the route that I’m taking right now,” he says. “I put together a great, a great body of work, man. I think that the people who support and follow my moves are going to be very impressed.”
His debut LP is due late 2018.