Richard Pryor was America?s most provocative comedian of the twentieth century. He incorporated a totally different technique to his stand up performance, setting new standards from the minute he stepped out under the spot light. Not only was Richard Pryor infamous for his cutting-edge humor but because he overstepped boundaries with his ability to humorize racial stereotypes. And yet he accomplished this all without actually telling jokes. His shows personified nothing more than real life and actual experiences. Even though he may not be with us in body his memory will never fade as his spirit still lives on in many other performers.
Houston?s Devin the Dude has Richard Pryor as one of his main influences and just as he was considered, “Your favorite comics, favorite comic.” The Odd Squad front-man has been classified on more than one occasion as, “Your favorite rappers? rapper.” His tongue in cheek lines may not be what you expect from your average Houston rapper, but Devon keeps to his plan by keeping his style as authentic his inspiration did. Those who just bought or received Chappelle Show DVD box sets of the holiday ought to look at Devin’s reflection with AllHipHop.com on the originator.
AllHipHop.com: You put Richard Pryor down as one of your main inspirations, if not the main one. I was just curious to know how you reacted when he died?
Devin the Dude: My immediate reaction was, “Richard Pryor is dead,” it wasn?t even a fact. To me, to die is not to be heard of anymore. I knew he was going through some physical problems, and I eventually knew he would pass on, but it did shock me. When they say he is dead, he isn?t really dead to me. It hurt me a little bit, but I felt good at the same time.
AllHipHop.Com: Why did you feel good?
Devin the Dude: A lot of artists have a lot of success, make their fortune, and get the attention of the media only to be let down towards the end of their career – there was nothing like that with him. That couldn?t happen to him as he set his own standards and he was so real, so blunt and straight to the point, that everything he said he meant and everything he did he turned into comedy. Even when he was serious, he was funny.
AllHipHop.Com: What is your earliest memory of him?
Devin the Dude: My earliest memory of him, that?s kind of hard. I was back in the fourth grade or so and I was listening to one of his records and that would be one of the records I would get in trouble listening to. There would be times when I had another album right on top of that one, so I could slide that right down. You know, I had a stash and I would have three or four of them in a stash and that one would be in there. [laughing]
AllHipHop.com: Is there one point in his career that you remember the most?
Devin the Dude: I mean, there is one time of his career which I remember really well but it was not necessarily the Richard Pryor I know: It was when I snuck in the movie to see The Toy. The dialogue wasn?t really him, but it made me feel good to see that he could bring that off. I was sitting there thinking, “Did Richard Pryor do that?” You know a lot of people change during their careers, but it isn?t really them. He could change and yet still stay the same.
AllHipHop.com: Talking of movies do you have a personal favorite?
Devin the Dude: No, not really. It was his stand up that was the killer stuff for me and his old albums. A lot of times, he had like a collage of stuff that he had been getting real big on coming up and then he would put it into a show and it could be from two or three different albums from way back. I guess I would say Live on Sunset Strip. He has so much material, man.
AllHipHop.com: There appear to be parallels between you and Richard Pryor, you know he was considered, “Your favorite comic?s fave comic” and you have been perceived as “our favorite rappers rapper,” do you see the parallels yourself?
Devin the Dude: Well, I appreciate that. I guess we both just like to laugh. We see the funny side of things and have something to laugh about. He helped me grow…he was like an Uncle to me almost. He was one of the people I listened to growing up, so that comes through in my music. He was like mentor to me.
AllHipHop.com: Did you ever get to meet him?
Devin the Dude: No, I never got a chance to meet him and I always wanted to. I know he had a comedy club on the Sunset Strip out in Los Angeles, and one of the fellas tried to get me out there to do stand-up. But one of my friends said you might want to stay doing your own thing, as that could hurt you. I was like, if I could just get to see him, it wouldn?t really matter.
AllHipHop.com: Everyone knows you as a somewhat comedic rapper, what was the premise behind that, is it just your personality?
Devin the Dude: I listened to Richard Pryor, Slow Fly, Red Foxx, you know I liked the old school comedy. It was the stuff I grew up on, the records I liked to hear; so when I got a record deal and had the chance to actually record all that stuff kind of came through. Hip-hop is so genuine like that, there are no boundaries, sampling and all that you take a bit of this and a bit of that; you know hip-hop is a collage of everything. That was a big thing about it too; know being a rapper you are able to voice your opinion on record. I was excited about that.
AllHipHop.com: Being that Houston is pretty much dominating the mainstream right now, has that been a help to your career?
Devin the Dude: Well, of course it will benefit anyone in Houston right now, just to be looked at. A lot of people have been waiting for a chance to be heard and seen, and everyone is having a chance to be seen now.