Devin the Dude Interview
|Artist:||Devin The Dude|
|Next Project:||Landing Gear|
|Twitter:||Devin The Dude on Twitter|
|Website:||Devin The Dude's Website|
Most of us have had it drilled into our heads by parents, teachers, politicians, favorite cartoon characters, and B-list celebrities that indulging in certain smokable substances over long periods of time will lead not to a bright future but to a brain fried beyond repair. Be that as it may, veteran emcee Devin the Dude is still going strong after more than a decade and a half in the game, and his unique brand of comedy-infused rap is more popular than ever.
With his fifth studio album, Landing Gear, on store shelves (released via indie label Razor & Tie and his very own Coughee Brothaz imprint), and a Booth-approved first single in “I Can’t Make It Home,” Devin is flying higher than ever. The brand-new LP finds the Dude working with many of his longtime friends, including DJ Domo and fellow Odd Squad member Rob Qwest, on his most mature material to date, but never abandoning the party-ready attitude that brought him his devoted fanbase.
In an exclusive interview with DJBooth’s own DJ “Z,” Devin the Dude steps inside the booth to discuss the wide array of producers he worked with on Landing Gear, why he never managed to earn his pilot license, and what he would cook up for the ultimate barbecue feast.
Listen to the Interview
Devin The Dude Interview Transcription
DJ Booth: What’s goin’ on everybody? It’s your boy “Z,” doin’ it real big, and joining me inside the DJ Booth is an emcee who landed on the scene roughly 16 years ago, and has slowly been taking off his gear ever since. Please welcome the only talented weed connoisseur I know, from Houston, Texas, Devin the Dude – how you doin’?
Devin: [singing] Oh yeah, yeah… just coolin’, man, coolin’. Feelin’ good, man, the album’s out.
DJ Booth: No doubt. Congratulations on the release. Was this any different than any of the other four releases – the process of getting up in the morning, knowing that you had another album out in stores?
Devin: Not really. It was the same, pretty much, at the studio, with the same group of fellas, my Coughee Brothaz and people that come by and help us with the work, listen to different songs and kinda give us constructive criticism. A bunch of coughee sippin’, smokin’ a little something, and havin’ fun and just enjoying the music.
DJ Booth: No doubt. Devin, this is your first solo project since departing from long-time label home Rap-A-Lot. It’s too early, obviously, to gauge the success of this project, since it just dropped, but do you feel things have gone as you would have hoped they would after you made the decision to go in a different direction with your indie imprint and Razor & Tie.
Devin: Well, actually, it’s real nice. I feel confident about what those guys are doing over there, and how they’re marketing and promoting and putting it out there. It’s just been real cool, in that aspect.
DJ Booth: Landing Gear, Devin, is your fifth solo project. For anyone who’s followed your career up to this point, there’s a certain comedic undertone and quality to your work – that’s what they know is true of this album without even hearing it, but what would you say makes Landing Gear different from any of your previous releases?
Devin: The number of producers on this album, probably, and the different styles of production, but eventually it all comes together. I was kinda nervous about – not nervous, because we always have our in-house producers, the main people: DJ Domo, Rob Quest, myself, Daddy Mack, and different people who put music down, and we’re comfortable with that, but I always like to venture out and see what new producers are doin’, and what they’re soundin’ like, ‘cause their music is just good music, regardless of where it come from. I just took a chance with producers that people probably haven’t heard of, but just had good-sounding music, and I wanted to try to add something to it and put it out.
DJ Booth: Who did you work with on this album who you did not previously work with, who just kinda blew you out of the water?
Devin: [laughs] Well, my homebody, one of the Coughee Brothaz, Corey Sullivan, we call him ‘C-Ray,’ he’s been around for the past 15, 20 years, just chillin’ with us, and always was very supportive of the Odd Squad, FaceMob, and everything. He eventually started makin’ beats, just a few years back. As he started working, he just got better and better, and we were like, “Wow, C-Ray, you’re comin’ on with it!” He was the one that was most impressive, because of the way he just started comin’ on with it, and he did two tracks: “El Grande Nalgas,” and another track called, “Let Me Know It’s Real.” I got a cat named Rockstar, you know, Rockstar and Young H from Cashflow, they’re from Norway, I got a chance to go over there and do a show, and ran into those cats, and we started sending music back and forth, and it was real cool, so he did two tracks on there also.
DJ Booth: Well, thank God for Email, ‘cause if you had to go back and forth from Norway every time you wanted to collaborate with someone, that might be a pain.
Devin: That would be a problem! [laughs] Technology, man – sometimes it’s confusing, but for the most part it’s very helpful when you’re working with it.
DJ Booth: Devin, let’s talk about the lead single off the project, “I Can’t Make It Home.” In the song, you discuss the effects of drinking and smoking, and the resulting inability to safely make it back to the crib. If the song were a movie, would you say it was inspired by true events?
Devin: Ah… yes, of course. But I was kinda blending a couple of my stories with my friends’ stories, and my older brother Donnie, one of his stories, and I just kind of put is together. The music was sent to me with the hook on it already – this guy Cosmos from Sacramento did the production, and LC did the hook – and I just kinda built around it, about previous events I’ve been through dealing with. Just ridin’ and smoking and chilling, you’ve always gotta be on your toes, and I’m definitely not letting people know that that’s a cool thing to do, but, just, that’s where you’ll end up eventually.
DJ Booth: I was actually going to ask you, have you considered possibly hooking up with an organization, turning it into a PSA, like, “Listen to Devin the Dude, who’s gonna send you a message that it’s not safe to smoke or drink and get in a vehicle?” I mean, you could make a lot of money off that, and it’d look great.
Devin: [laughs] Oh, man, that’s a cool idea, Z – we might have to look into that!
DJ Booth: Okay, here’s the thing though, Devin: if you decide to go with my idea, I’m gonna need at least 15% of all proceeds.
Devin: Twenty-five, man.
DJ Booth: Even better!
Devin: You deserve that, man.
DJ Booth: Two businessmen on the phone, that’s what I like. Devin, I’m sure you already thought about this, but the title of your album, it’s really a neat metaphor for the current stage that you’re at in your career. Considering your experiences and your many years of service, so to speak, how many more flights do you anticipate making?
Devin: Well, Landing Gear, actually, it’s not just the flight itself, it’s what you have when you get there. [laughs] You know, if you have all the necessities, and all the things you need to have, once you get to where you’re going, that’s some good Landing Gear. I guess it has a double meaning, you could say that. As far as flight, I’m just on cruise control now – we’re gonna put out the Coughee Brothaz, we’re gonna have the group 14K comin’ out, Odd Squad got some new music that you may hear, we may do another Odd Squad project, and things are jumpin’ up.
DJ Booth: You mentioned, it’s more about where you’re going, so, when someone picks up a copy of the album, where will your music be taking them?
Devin: Somewhere safe, somewhere cool, where there’s pretty much no negativity. Everybody’s chillin’ and havin’ a good time, and smokin’ and sharin’, good thoughts in their minds, and tryin’ to progress. If it’s not that way once you land, it’s time to get on another flight.
DJ Booth: Considering all that’s going on in the country; we’re in a time of transition, and we just need to have fun, you’re absolutely right. The cover art and promotional photos for the project, I love ‘em; you’re wearin’ a pilot’s suit – have you ever actually flown a plane?
Devin: No, I haven’t, I’ve never flown a plane before, but it looks very interesting. It’s a lot of knobs and buttons and stuff you have to deal with, but I can handle it man, I could probably learn. I always wanted to learn how to fly, but, hey, I started smoking and stuff, and it’s probably hard to pass the test to get behind the wheel…
DJ Booth: Yeah, that might be difficult.
Devin: But, yeah, I like flyin’, [but] I don’t necessarily have to fly the plane myself.
DJ Booth: Well, I spoke to Killer Mike [this] year, and he actually attempted to get his pilot’s license some time ago, but he never followed through with it. So if Mike ever decides to go and actually get his license, maybe you can join him. You could take a three-month weed binge, and you guys would be good.
Devin: [laughs] Yeah, that might work, that might work!
DJ Booth: Devin, you mentioned your own label imprint, Coughee Brothaz. Are you looking to expand this label and sign a plethora of new, untapped talent, or is this simply a means for you right now to get on your own level and be your own boss?
Devin: Actually, it’s first what you said, as far as the people that are helpin’ me out, the very talented folks and brothers that’s been puttin’ it down, and are really true to our art, and that’s the whole thing that I’m trying to find: an avenue or a door that can open and just send those guys through and let people hear them. It’s coming along pretty cool, in that aspect it’s still real cool, trying to come out independently, with just a name and some talented brothers behind you.
DJ Booth: Do you feel like, at this point in your career, because your name is so established in the industry, that this is the way you’ll go from here on out, the independent route?
Devin: Who knows what opportunities or offers may come? But the independent route is real cool right now, ‘cause you have the hands-on thing that’s happening. You’re kinda held responsible for things; you can’t point a finger, and you can’t let a job go and let someone handle it that doesn’t really know what they’re doin’ and expect progress. You know, bein’ independent is real cool, as far as bein’ on top of things that you need to be.
DJ Booth: That, and you don’t have to split those checks 80 different ways – that’s the best part.
Devin: [laughs] That’s a cool part, too.
DJ Booth: I’m gonna let you get out of here after this last question. I read your current bio, and it mentions that you’re an avid reader and a great barbecuer, so two-parter: what is your favorite book, and what is the best grilled item that you would make me if I came over for dinner?
Devin: Okay, now you’re talkin’. I’ll start with the barbecue - I’ve got some cool, cool turkey legs with some honey-glazed barbecue that’s been marinated, and it’s fallin’ off the bone-type-thing, and then I got a rice called ‘jambalumbo,’ it’s like a mix between gumbo and jambalaya. A lot of meats, like sausage, chicken, shrimp, a little beef – not hamburgers, but some steaks, maybe some crab, and we’ll go with the regular baked beans, with an extra little zip to it. I guess my favorite book, it would beThe Speed of Trust
, by Stephen Covey.
DJ Booth: What’s that book about?
Devin: It’s about trust, man – regaining trust, adding trust to your life. And there’s no such thing as a person never, ever trusting another person; trust can always be built or rebuilt.
DJ Booth: Well, I’ll tell you what: I trust that if I ever came over, you’d make me one hell of a meal – that’s what I trust. I appreciate you describing that wonderful, what is it called? The jambalaya and the, what is it?
Devin: [laughs] Jambalumbo!
DJ Booth: Jambalumbo. I expect some sent over to my place in a freezer pack for lunch next week.
Devin: [laughs] All right, sounds cool, Z.
DJ Booth: Devin, go ahead and give everybody a website or a MySpace page, so they can find out more about the new album, Landing Gear, out in stores right now.
DJ Booth: No doubt. Devin, once again congratulations on the album drop. I wish you nothing but the best.
Devin: Appreciate it, Z. Much love. Thanks, man.