View Full Version : Devin the Dude All Hip Hop interview

10-02-2010, 02:16 AM
Hip-Hopís competitive landscape has compelled several insecure artists to alter their authentic selves. Many MCs, aspiring for popularity, dump their true character only to gain a disposable acceptance. Hip-Hop is starting to resemble a cesspool of clichťs. Toxic Avenger rappers and their landfill lyrics are polluting its essence. Their mutated reflection mocks them when they encounter the disappointed gaze of a knowing, Hip-Hop head. Devin The Dude, an MC whose interior matches his exterior, has never had a problem looking into the mirror. This Coughee Brotha has matured with his craft. Devin embodies Hip-Hop; he has experience breaking, deejaying, and emceeing. Scarface, Dr. Dre, De La Soul, and Nas are among his esteemed supporters. Working on a solo project, or collaborating within Odd Squadís group dynamic, Devin is sure to keep the green burning and the good music coming.

AllHipHop.com: With your latest effort, Suite #420, how did you challenge yourself to create fresh new music without compromising your lyrical legacy?

Devin The Dude: Itís just a matter of going in the studio and having fun. Itís feeling good as possible, you know. Thereís no strategy that I have. Itís just a matter of feeling as good as possible and being as positive as possible. (laughs) Being around the right people, being in the right atmosphere and being in the right mind stateóyou know what Iím sayingóand then having some real good weed to smoke; it all just coincides.

AllHipHop.com Is making music still fulfilling, is it still fun for you; or, do you do you just look at it as a profession?

Devin: If itís not fun, I wouldnít do it. Thatís the whole thing. Thatís why I was so willing to just do this and pursue this as a career; because, you know, it was fun to do. It wasnít reallyóbut it turned into a jobóit was never really considered a hard job to do. It was just a cool hobby that paid big and was getting me where I needed to go. Thatís how it felt. So, if the fun goes away, I guess the whole job of it goes away, to me.

AllHipHop.com: Over the years, youíve managed to remain relevant to the mic. With your current deal with E1, how are you working to reinforce your presence in Hip-Hop?

Devin: To reinforce my presence? To me itís not like a come and go thing. Itís not like Iím in and Iím out, and Iím in and Iím out. I donít never feel like that. When I do a project, it doesnít feel like Iím making a comeback. It always feels like itís just another chapter in a huge book. So, whatever label Iím on, or whatever kind of transition Iím making career-wise, as far as contractual, it doesnít make a difference with my musical work ethics. Itís all one in the same.

AllHipHop.com: Youíve spent the duration of your career at Rap-A-Lot Records, how has the time that you invested there help to shape you as an MC and as a businessman?

Devin: Well, actually, with Rap-A-Lot that was a learning and growing experience. Rap-A-Lot was like a family. It was a huge family with MCs and businessmen, alike. I learned [a lot] that helped me to guide myself, and the people that was with me, to where Iím at now. It was a long journey; but, it was well worth every step of it. Back in the day with Rap-A-Lot, by doing tours and how we did performances with the retail and the marketing; it was all a learning experience.

It was real coolÖIt was just a blessing to be a part of all that.

AllHipHop.com: With your imprint, Coughee Brothaz Music, are you its flagship artist; or, are you cultivating another talent to help brand the label?

Devin: Yeah, itís a label, Coughee Brothaz, is an independent label. Iím just a solo artist that out an album through Coughee Brothaz music and went through E1 for distribution and everything. We have other artists in Coughee Brothaz, too, like 14K. Tony Mac, is an R&B singer from here in Houston. Weíre still focused on putting out other projects within Coughee Brothaz. Who knows if we might land a deal with E1 for us to have the whole Coughee Brothaz on the label and for other artists and groups to come out through that avenue. Weíre talking about that right now. But, you know, itís just one step at a time to get the ball rolling.

AllHipHop.com: Besides yourself and 14K, are there other in-house producers?

Devin: Yes, of course; well actually just two on the label. We actually got comedians that are trying to get on the label. We might do a comedianís record and take it back to like Richard Pryor, and old school Redd Foxx type stuff. You know, kinda bring that back, on the label. Itís not going to be just one specific thing thatís on it. C-Ray [Sullivan] who did a track called ďEl Grande NalgasĒ on the Landing Gear album; he did a track called ďWhere Ya AtĒ on the Suite 420 album. He is a producer from the Coughee Brothaz; youíre going to hear more from him. Yeah, itís producers, artists, singers, rappers; itís going to be something to look forward to in the future.

AllHipHop.com: In the South, youíre looked at as a legend. But, youíve yet to achieve that elusive mainstream success. How do you calculate professional success?

Devin: I think thatís within the individual. I believe that every artist has something that they want to accomplish, when they first start. And, whatever that is; or, whatever that may be; when they get to that point theyíll know. For me, I dunno. The appreciation of a song was cool, for me. You know, thatís what started my whole career, actually. It was someone liking one song I did. So, that was a success for me. That was it, and the more kinda multiplied even more. It came to mean more of a success to me. I thought I was kinda successful when I first started; because, somebody liked what I did. I donít know as far as radio spins, units sold, houses built; I dunno. That might be how somebody else calculate it; but, I donít know. Itís hard for me to calculate success. Itís inside every individual that does whatever they do. When they decide that theyíre at the point when theyíre successful. I started mine back in í87 to í88.

AllHipHop.com: I love you! Iíve read that after you released The Dude you were a little disappointed.

Devin: Well, I wasnít disappointed, uh, I donít knowÖ It was just a matter of me, personally; because, I was accepted and appreciated, musically, by a lot of people. But, financially, I wasnít living at a point to where I wanted to be. I was getting older and having kids, and moving and doing things and trying to be responsible. But, everything wasnít adding up; I was wondering what I was going to do with the remained of my career. Should I just find another job and still use music as a hobby? The kids needed to eat and they needed other thingsójust putting a record out, and people liking it doesnít mean that youíre financially stable enough to keep doing whatever youíre doing and be comfortable.

From í98 [The Dude] that was my first solo album and I didnít do another album until 2002 [Just Tryiní ta Live]. That was four years. There was a point, there was a long little stretch, where I had a lot of time to idle and think, ĎOh s***, what am I going to do?í

AllHipHop.com: Thank you for persevering; youíre one of my favorites!

Devin: (laughs) Good s***; good looking out.

AllHipHop.com: May I ask you a personal question.

Devin: You mean the tape is off, personal? (laughs)

AllHipHop.com: It wonít be juicy enough for AllHIpHop rumors or illseed, or anything like tható

Devin: (laughs) I mean, youíre still recording personal, or no longer recording, personal?

AllHipHop.com: You know Iím still recording!

Devin: Whatíd you say, Niki? (laughs)

AllHipHop.com: I want to know if youíre actually friends with Scarface and Dr. Dre, or do you just look at them as folks youíve worked with.

Devin: Ah, man those are my brothers! Both of them, those are my brothers. (laughs) At the drop of a hat, whenever they need me, Iím there!

AllHipHop.com: Are you going to be on Detox or anything new with Scarface?

Devin: Well, actually, when I was mixing all these records on the Suite 420 album, Mike Dean came through and we was choppiní it up. He wants to be involved in the next project that I do, you know what I mean. He wants to do some work together. The feeling is mutual; Iíd love to do some work with ĎFace, anytime. I know how he goes into a studio. I know how his work ethic is; I know that heíll come out of there with some heat.

AllHipHop.com: What about Detox are you going to be on that?

Devin: Yeah, that would be cool.

AllHipHop.com: In relation to Hip-Hop would you rather earn the respect of your peers and the public, or make lots and lots of money from jigaboo tunes?

Devin: (laughs) Of course, I would like the love and respect and the appreciation of the music. To me, the money only comes after all that is established. You get the love and respect, and the money and stuff is like the proverbial icing on the cake. Everybody knows how money comes and goes and what you can do with it. How you can blow it and whatever. You can make money all kinds of ways, doing a whole bund of different things, not just because of Rap. I like the appreciation from my peers, and my family and my friends, of what Iím doing, I feel good. I can feel good about whatever Iím doing, and that goes a long way.

AllHipHop.com: I ask this question a lot, and I want to get your perspective on it. Is there such a thing as commercially successful Hip-Hop that still possesses a cultural soul?

Devin: Yeah, those are albums like The Chronic, 2001, a couple of Geto Boys albums. Thatís when the underground artist makes commercialized fans cross over to them, and make them come over. Millions of people have heard this album, yet itís still underground and raw. 2 Live Crew did it, Too Short did it, Ice Cube did it, KRS-One did it; a lot of artists and Rap groups have done it. But, you just got to be really true about what you do. And then you got those followers that are true fans that will really support you and show their number with the units sold. It lines up sometimes for a lot of artists.

It can be done. Itís not by you going into a studio and you trying to make it happen. Itís not done like that. Itís going to be done by you doing what youíre doing, by you continuously doing what youíre doing, on the grind. Then you have these followers thatís been followers for a while and somehow they multiply one year. Then out of nowhereóBOOMóthat next album everybody knows about you and you didnít have to do a commercial song to make it happen.

AllHipHop.com: That goes perfectly into my next question. Have you ever been tempted to make a Hokey-Pokey dance song for the kids?

Devin: We laugh, and kid, and joke about it in the studio a lot, you know what Iím saying. But, when it comes down to it, when you start recording a record, your heart starts to get more involved into a record and itís hard to just follow a trend. Nah, I donít do that! I donít go in there trying to make a commercialized song, or a song that everybody would like. I would love for people to love all the songs that I make; but, thatís when Iím finished with it. Thatís not before I start.

AllHipHop.com: In an interview that you did with HipHopDx you were saying that youíd like to have Willie Nelson on a feature; were you serious or just joking around?

Devin: Both, I was just tripping; but, I would love to. It would be an honor for me to be on a track with Willie Nelson. Not just because of the similarities of smoking weed; but, doing music and having storytelling type songs. We have a little something in common there. There are a lot of people who I have run across who have asked me about that. It wasnít just out of the blue to where I woke up and wanted to do a song with Willie Nelson. Itís like people whoíve approached me like, ĎHave you ever thought about doing a song with Willie Nelson?í

AllHipHop.com: I want to pick your brain a little bit more; Iíll let you go in a min. On 420 you have a skit called ďTwitta,Ē do you have an actual Twitter account?

Devin: [laughs] Well, you know, the people at the label twisted my arm, man. It was like, ĎYou have to do a Twitter, Devin. Thatís the way of the world. Itís the sign of the times; you just can make it without Twitter.í That type of shit, so I got a Twitter account. Itís called TheRealDevin420.

AllHipHop.com: One more random question, one of my favorite tracks is ďWrite & Wrong,Ē Iíve always wanted to know its back story. Is it a purely conceptual album, or did something like that actually happen to you?

Devin: There was a time when I was getting approached a whole bunch about making it in the Rap game. ĎWhat should I do, Devin? I got these hot tracks and I want to get signed to yíall label. I want to do this; I want to do thatÖí So, that just brought about it. Hey, if I write a song about it I wouldnít have to talk about it too much, or be approached with it. Theyíll hear the song and thatíll be a reference to Ďand I wonít have to say nothing no more. (laughs)

AllHipHop.com: (Erupts with laughter) I canít stand you!

Devin: That was pretty much it. I just wrote a song about a lot of artists that was pretty much in the same boat that I was in, you know, still tryiní to make it. They wanted some advice, so that was my advice, at the time.

AllHipHop.com: What would you like to say to your supporters?

Devin: I appreciate the support of not only, Suite 420, but for all the support over the years since í93. Thatís where the bulk of my fans come from. Theyíve been around since then and I appreciate that. Itís coming from the heart, coming from the Odd Squad, coming from the Coughee Brothaz and everything weíve done since then. Youíre the reason why weíre here doing what we do and trying to keep coughee sippiní.