Hip-Hops 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 clichés. 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 Squads group
dynamic, Devin is sure to keep the green burning and the good music
With your latest effort, Suite #420, how did you challenge yourself
to create fresh new music without compromising your lyrical legacy?
Devin The Dude: Its
just a matter of going in the studio and having fun. Its feeling
good as possible, you know. Theres no strategy that I have. Its
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 stateyou know what Im sayingand
then having some real good weed to smoke; it all just coincides.
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 its not
fun, I wouldnt do it. Thats the whole thing. Thats why I was
so willing to just do this and pursue this as a career; because, you
know, it was fun to do. It wasnt reallybut it turned into a jobit
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. Thats how
it felt. So, if the fun goes away, I guess the whole job of it goes
away, to me.
Over the years, youve managed to remain relevant to the mic. With
your current deal with E1, how are you working to reinforce your presence
Devin: To reinforce
my presence? To me its not like a come and go thing. Its not like
Im in and Im out, and Im in and Im out. I dont never
feel like that. When I do a project, it doesnt feel like Im making
a comeback. It always feels like its just another chapter in a huge
book. So, whatever label Im on, or whatever kind of transition Im
making career-wise, as far as contractual, it doesnt make a difference
with my musical work ethics. Its all one in the same.
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 Im 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 cool It was just
a blessing to be a part of all that.
your imprint, Coughee Brothaz Music, are you its flagship artist; or,
are you cultivating another talent to help brand the label?
Devin: Yeah, its
a label, Coughee Brothaz, is an independent label. Im 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. Were 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. Were talking about that right
now. But, you know, its just one step at a time to get the ball rolling.
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 comedians 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. Its not going to be
just one specific thing thats on it. C-Ray [Sullivan] who did
a track called El Grande Nalgas on the Landing Gear
album; he did a track called Where Ya At on the Suite 420
album. He is a producer from the Coughee Brothaz; youre going to
hear more from him. Yeah, its producers, artists, singers, rappers;
its going to be something to look forward to in the future.
AllHipHop.com: In the
South, youre looked at as a legend. But, youve yet to achieve
that elusive mainstream success. How do you calculate professional success?
Devin: I think thats
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 theyll know.
For me, I dunno. The appreciation of a song was cool, for me. You know,
thats 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 dont know as far as radio spins, units
sold, houses built; I dunno. That might be how somebody else calculate
it; but, I dont know. Its hard for me to calculate success. Its
inside every individual that does whatever they do. When they decide
that theyre at the point when theyre successful. I started mine
back in 87 to 88.
AllHipHop.com: I love
you! Ive read that after you released The Dude you were a
Devin: Well, I wasnt
disappointed, uh, I dont know It was just a matter of me, personally;
because, I was accepted and appreciated, musically, by a lot of people.
But, financially, I wasnt 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 wasnt 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 thingsjust putting a record out,
and people liking it doesnt mean that youre financially stable
enough to keep doing whatever youre doing and be comfortable.
From 98 [The Dude]
that was my first solo album and I didnt do another album until 2002
[Just Tryin 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, Oh s***, what am I going to do?
you for persevering; youre 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) Click here for Part 2 of this exclusive interview.