Mellow, Chilled-Out Fellow

The wonder that is Devin the Dude

Devin's family lived close to a radio station, and he has recalled raiding the Dumpster for new records. That was where he got a lot of the soft rock stuff, but he also got soul and jazz albums out of there. "Stuff like Stevie Wonder and the Jackson Five," he says. "It used to just make me wonder, 'How can music come from this plastic thing? This is amazing!' So I used to put the needle on the record and try to find out the words. And I'd hear the words and they would sound good but I just couldn't remember everything, and I wanted to sing the stuff. So I would do it little by little -- I would play a sentence or two, and then I'd lift up the needle and memorize that. Then I'd put the needle back down -- I did that for all the songs that I liked."

One such was the title track to the Quincy Jones album The Dude. "That song -- I thought there was a dude out there like that, a 'Bad Bad Leroy Brown'-type dude," Devin remembers of the song that inspired his unusual rap moniker. "I was like, 'Who is this Dude? Don't fuck with him! He's got his shit together!' "

It was some time later that he saw the album cover. "When I finally saw the album cover, it was like this African sculpture of a pygmy, and it said The Dude. And I was like 'Waaaiiiit a minute. This ain't no dude! This ain't the dude I was looking for!' I thought of him as this big muscle-bound dude with all these bitches around and money and shit. And then I realized it was talking about Quincy Jones -- he was the Dude...It was just based upon a song, and the music was so powerful that the Dude is music in essence. That's what it's all about, what you bring to the studio. When it's done people all around the world can vibe to it and wonder about it."

"Your favorite rapper's favorite rapper" spits at this 
year's South By Southwest.
"Your favorite rapper's favorite rapper" spits at this year's South By Southwest.

Wonder. That's the one word you could use to sum up Devin. He and his music are both wonderful, and you wonder why he's not more famous. "When the time comes it comes," he says. "I just gotta prepare myself for it. There's no perfect way to do things here -- there's no certain path in this music industry to be as big as you may wanna be. Every story is so completely different than the next. So I feel that if it's in people's hearts for me to be somewhere else that I'm not, then eventually it will happen. Till then, I've just got to keep doin' what I'm doin' that they appreciate and prepare for the next step."

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