Friday, January 21, 2005

Devin The Dude....Just Being Himself

By JusBam

Being successful in the rap game is more than just high priced videos and big platinum chains with spinning emblems. For artists like Devin the Dude with 10+ years in the game, it means three highly-regarded albums and the opportunity to do what you love to do, they way you want to do it and still having your fans loving whatever you do. If you’ve ever listened to a Devin album you might feel like I do. You have to respect his ability to amaze us by continuingly being true to his music, while staying consistent and making his entire fan base feel like we’ve known him for years.
Devin first debuted with Odd Squad and the ‘94 classic “Fadanuf Fa Erybody,” followed by appearances on Scarface’s “Face Mobb” project. In ‘98 Devin eventually went solo with his own debut “The Dude”, and four years later came back with the sophomoric “Just Tryin to Live.” It’s 2004 now and the man known best for his standout hook and verse on Dr. Dre’s 2001 cut “Fuck You” hits us with “To Tha X-treme.” An album dedicated to his favorite pastimes, females and smoking weed. In his world everything is cool and as long as we keep listening he will keep being just that Dude.

Streetz (S): What’s up Devin, have you been enjoying your time here in DC?
Devin (D): It’s been lovely. I love it here.
Streetz (S):The Hip-Hop community has deemed you the poster child for underground success. You’ve been in the game for a number of years and have produced consistent classics, but you haven’t yet managed to cross into the mainstream or superstardom where a lot of us feel you should be. Are you more comfortable with where you are?
Devin (D): I’m just satisfied actually just being appreciated in the game; the music is first and foremost so when people appreciate the music and let me know about it, that’s cool. Every time I come here I meet somebody else, who enjoys the music and that’s what means a lot, that’s what’s important.
Streetz (S): Is it more important to put a CD out that you love, that you gave everything to or is all about the money?
Devin (D): Well, for me it fall back to the music again, its about putting out some good material that people can listen to at different times, in different stages in their life; from 16 to 63 (laughs). But yeah, most definitely you have to be concerned about the music not just about the numbers. That comes with good music.
Streetz (S):There was about a 2-year gap between “Tryin’ to Live” and the new project “To The Extreme” is that something you planned to do?
Devin (D): This album was going to be a double album. The title was going to be the Roman numeral “II the Extreme”. But because of the time period and it had been so long. I just wanted to give “To the Extreme” all I have for one price instead of the two for one thang.
Streetz (S): That’s a new trend in hip-hop today with the double CD’s do you think that this can hurt or help your career?
Devin (D): It can hurt, But it can help also, For a lot of people who have fans out there that don’t get a chance to hear there music as often as they want to and just give them a lump some at one time for them to absorb then about two years later you have another one for them. But it wasn’t nothing planned as for as the time between the second and third album. Between the first and second album we were going distribution changes, and a lot of things were happening so there was about a four-year gap between the two. The Dude was ’98 and Tryin to Live was 2002, and now this project so hopefully I’ll have another one next year.

“I’m just satisfied actually just being appreciated in the game”- Devin the Dude

Streetz (S): The Hip-Hop industry has change a lot since you first made an appearance in the “Up and Smoke Tour”, how has the industry changed to you?
Devin (D): When I first came out it was with the Live Squad back in 1994, but since then I have changed a lot. It is a lot faster now that technology is different. You can go and knock out a album in couple months.
Streetz (S): Do you see a change in the music? Has it become too commercial?
Devin (D): It sort of a tends to now, but it did open a lot [doors] for people, especially those tryin to do positive stuff. So you can’t complain about that. When a lot of things happen at one time and so many people are trying to get in all at once, it’s going to be cluttered with stuff that makes you think “Hey what is that?”
Streetz (S): Do you feel pressure to change your style and try to create music that is more mainstream?
Devin (D): Nah, I am just glad to be apart of something and with a group of people who feel the same way I feel. There’s no pressure to change into nothing.
Streetz (S): Do you do some of the production on your projects?
Devin (D): Yeah, a little bit. I try to do two or three tracks an album.
Streetz (S): Is production something that planned to get more into and produced for other people?
Devin (D): Yeah, I wouldn’t mind, but I’m not my favorite producer right now. (Laugh). If I come across some stuff that I have been working on and somebody else like, it would be a blessing to have them write to it.
Streetz (S): Who’s your favorite producer?
Devin (D): Well, I have quite a few; there are a lot of good ones out there. From Dre to Pete Rock to my partner Rob from the Odd Squad…it’s a lot of them.
Streetz (S): On all your albums it always seems as if you are having a good time, and your fans feel like there are chilling with you and we know you. Did you ever think it that wouldn’t be fun no more? Would you leave the game?
Devin (D): When it’s not fun no more than that will be the last album, nah I don’t think you came make a complete album without having fun with it. You have to love what you do and it doesn’t seem like a job really, it something that I am fortunate to be able to do and make a living from.
Streetz (S): “To the Extreme” is in stores now, and the Hip-Hop community has labeled it another classic. Is it your favorite album? Which one is your favorite?
Devin (D): That would be hard, because there is a different meaning with each album. I had a lot of fun doing the first album “The Dude”, it was really carefree, and not to many responsibilities you just doing what you love to do. It was my first solo album.
Streetz (S): Okay, this is our Politikz issue with the Presidential election approaching. Do you feel that Hip-Hop has a voice in politics? And is voting important to you?
Devin (D): It’s very important to vote. A lot of our ancestors, our aunts and uncles went through a lot just so we can have the opportunity to vote. And it is not necessarily just about the presidents, it starts in the community and the neighborhoods and the people. You have to straighten up your own hood. It starts there. They just put it in your face about the Presidential issue, “pick one! Him or him?” They are trying to throw your mind away from whats important. Hip-Hop and politics went hand and hand back in the day.