Houstonian MC Devin the Dude talks about his music, influences, and maturing in his art.
By: Ariana Triggs, IG: @ari.ataree
“Talking about it now is like a trend, but when we started out, even talking about weed–that was taboo. To even get on stage and smoke was like ‘Hell naw’. So we were, in that state, we were kind of trendsetters, but it wasn’t always about weed. It was just something to get their attention and listen to the message.” Devin asserted as he chilled and kicked back after a great show in Baton Rouge, Louisiana. This was my first time seeing Devin perform live, as I missed the show at the House of Blues in New Orleans the previous Saturday. Here he was in Baton Rouge giving us a taste of the magic his 25-year career is built upon.
From the creative, transcending mind of Devin Copeland comes straight classics like “Doobie Ashtray”, “Everything’ is Everything”, “What a Job” and throwback “Boo Boo’n”; not to forget collabs like “Kush is my Cologne” with Gucci Mane, “Smoke Everyday” with Paul Wall and Z-Ro, back to “Fuck Faces” with Scarface and Too $hort. This is the legend who taught us to value our Pearlys, to watch how much we give to others and pay attention to how much we receive in return from said others when we’re down on our luck; to sit back, chill, and enjoy the life you live.
Devin the Dude’s first album The Dude dropped in 1998, long after writing his first rhyme in the 1st grade and forming The Coughee Brothaz (formerly known as ‘The Odd Squad’) with Rob Quest and Jugg Mugg. Collaborating with legendary artists from Geto Boys and Scarface to Snoop and Andre 3000, Devin has solidified his place in hip-hop as one of the best to grace a mic.
“Back in the day from our influences there was always a moral to something; always a story and the “old school” rappers they used to have stories and messages. People like Slick Rick were major influences. I have a song called “I Can’t Quit” I got some of my influences from a story he had and he would tell me that he got influenced by a story that I had, so it kind of trickles down.”
Devin and Slick Rick met around his 5th album, Landing Gear. “I was shy didn’t know what to say to him, didn’t want to say the wrong shit,” Devin said. “He already knew who I was and that feeling was overwhelming. I never thought I could get a chance to be in the same room with a lot of these people who influenced what I was doing.”
Most notable for making weed-conscious music with Rap-a-Lot Records and his own label Coughee Brothaz Music, his music has a bigger message past marijuana indulgence. Devin said sometimes, he had to add a little shock value to put out a message different to the one a listener may expect. “It wasn’t always about weed and getting fucked up sometimes it was used as a shock value so back then we would say some crazy shit just to get your attention but then once we have your attention now you can hear the message that we have. Then I have to mix it up with songs like ‘Doobie Ashtray’ which you think is about weed but it’s about a lot of other stuff ya know what I’m sayin. I have a lot of songs that people think are just about weed but it’s really about a bunch of other things too. I brought you to the weed but I also wanted to talk about the other problems I got.”
He remained a part of until 2007, when he parted ways to focus more on artist development and his business. That same year he, Snoop Dogg and Andre 3000 came together for the single “What a Job” off of his fourth album Waitin’ to Inhale.
“Snoop is like my brother, every time he doing something close in town he hits me up…not too long ago he was in town for his play ‘Redemption of a Dog’ and he invited me out to do a few songs before the show. Yeah, every time he something near me he tries to include me. He would hit me on facetime from time to time out the blue, ya know, I’m in the hood chillin and everybody in the hood would be tripping saying ‘oh man it’s Snoop!’,” Devin exclaimed.
Devin said initially, the song was supposed to be was just supposed to be “hook, verse, hook, out,” like a skit and Andre’s verse came as a surprise, which is why Andre’s name wasn’t mentioned by Snoop during the shoutout.
“When I turned the album, a few days later [sic] hit me up saying ‘that song, [sic] was it there, what you gonna do with that there?’ I said ‘naw Jay, it’s not a song, it’s like a skit, ya know, a public service announcement-type thing.’ He said ‘that’s nice man, you have any ideas who you would want on there?’ I said maybe Snoop or somebody, so [sic] sent it to Snoop and he dropped his verse on there and I heard it and was like ‘man, it’s going down now!” So this was just the master, and then my manager Rico hit me up, asking had I heard Andre’s verse and I was like ‘on what?’ ‘Naw, naw, he is about to send it to you.’ Snoop didn’t know that Andre was on there either.”
Three years later and two years after the release of Landing Gear, Devin would get the chance to do something he’d always wanted to: release an album on 4/20, the stoners’ holiday. However, the thought came about years prior to the release, and he initially didn’t think it would ever come to fruition.
“I remember it like it was yesterday: we were in the studio and we were just talking about some stuff and I’ve always wanted to get an album out on 4/20. I thought that would be cool, but back then, albums only came out on Tuesdays. So we were looking at the odds of an album coming out on that day, not expecting that in five years or so we would still be doing this. One of us said ‘man I ain’t gonna be do this shit when I’m 30’ *Laughing* and we all said ‘no shit, we not going to be still doing this when we 30. Let’s erase that thought’ and then the years came by and it eventually caught up with us and we said ‘remember when we said we wasn’t still gonna be doing this?’ and that’s when we came out with Suite 420.”
After 2010’s Suite 420, Devin would release two more albums – Gotta Be Me in the same year and One for the Road in 2013 before going on a hiatus. His plans was to release new music in 2015 was halted that July by thieves who took him for all of his equipment. Shortly after, he posted about the incident on Instagram:
“MANE!!!! This is REALLY fucked up! Somebody broke into my house while I was gone for a week and snatched my studio equipment, TV’s, mixers, Apple Computers, Blue Mic, Digital Mixer, Drum machines, Quad Copters with gimble, GoPro 4 and alot of other stuff! Yep! They DJ Quicked me mane!!! Dirty Mu’F**kas!! Up in Inwood West somewhere on the NW side!!!!! This may hold me back a little bit as far as my album is concerned but it don’t stop!! Look forward to somethin’ at the end of November 2015!”
Last year, Devin the Dude released the euphonious ‘Acoustic Levitation’, his ninth solo album. As if he couldn’t be more laid back, Devin dives deeper into his relationship with his, music, his bud, and moreso, women. One of the standout tracks on the album was “Are you going my way” featuring Tony Mac and Lisa Luv, where he interacts with a woman at the bus stop, being “Mr. Good Deed tryna lend a shoulder.” Not to mention “You know I wantcha!”, which takes us back to old school H-Town. Looking at his life, Devin said he sees the change in his music that is more becoming of the man he is now.
“My music has matured to where I don’t cuss as much, I’m not as raunchy. In the beginning I didn’t have any responsibilities, no kids, we were just free we didn’t really know how long rap was going to be around. We didn’t know that this was going to be a career so we just did anything, we didn’t give a fuck or whatever. But as you go and you progress, you realize that you to be more responsible if you are going to make a career out of this.”
Devin is one artist that most can aspire to. Everyone sees rappers who create similar art as Devin’s living very lavish lifestyles, but he doesn’t chase the material things or fame. Devin’s lifestyle is attainable, and is one that can be aspired to: true joy and passion for what you do, the understanding and appreciation of life, and the opportunity to be able to give your art to the world. Devin expressed that there is a deep appreciation for what he’s been able to achieve in his career and he don’t plan on stopping any time soon.
“Just looking now I say I would do this shit till I can’t no more…if people want to still hear I’ll keep doing it but if people don’t want to hear it no more that’s a completely different story. I could never do something that people would hate, I because of the appreciation of it all…I had a lot of other jobs before I started rapping. Hell, I had two albums out and had a couple of jobs.”
Devin said that people who have yet to hear the album should give it a try, but he doesn’t want to force-feed it to anyone.
“You know how the music is now a days with how short the attention span is which is why some of the music is the way it is now-they push artists in and out-and they don’t even want your attention span to be that sharp. They want you to be listening to a new and “get ready for the next one”, ya know what I’m saying, and that’s how we end up with some of these trendy rappers. I wouldn’t mind seeing the industry move towards more artist development. I wouldn’t mind seeing another Michael Jackson.”
And for those of you who’ve never had the experience of listening to Devin’s music: “Drank, smoke, love, live, respect, have fun and just enjoy life and put it all in one song and grow some weed. I mean that’s what you will hear in my music if you’ve never heard it before….kind of like rolling all of that up and smoking it.”
Whatever you do, just do what the fuck you wanna do, and say what the fuck you wanna say!