Five Spot: The Laid-Back Genius of Devin the Dude
Welcome back to Five Spot. Every Friday, we'll examine a recent bit of music news and, sometimes awkwardly, tie it to a bit of Houston rap. It's five videos and occasional cussing. Send tips to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Ohio's rapper-turned-Internet-sensation Kid Cudi signed his first major deal yesterday. We'll wait for the applause to die down before we continue... ... When Cudi's A Kid Named Cudi mixtape came out last year, everyone fawned over his "lovable stoner persona." Admittedly, the tape was good - lead single "Day And Night" was phenomenal, matter of fact - but in Houston, one man reigns unopposed as king of high-hop: Devin tha mutha effin' Dude. Devin is a bit of a conundrum, and a lot of that stems from him being absolutely likeable. Most would take that to mean that his music is bad, but he's really nice guy so we gloss over the crappiness - like saying a guy is funny when you're asked to describe how he looks because he's missing an eye or something. But that's wholly inaccurate.
Devin's charm is largely based on the high quality of his music, and that surprises a lot of people. His music is way more evolved than the stoner schtick most label him with. At one moment, it's outwardly goofy and simplistic in its eccentric charm, and at the next it's tender and heartrending and amazingly complex. We saw Dave Chappelle - a comedian slapped with that same stoner-friendly label - live once in San Antonio a couple of years ago. It was at a venue larger than the Verizon Theater, and it was completely packed, maybe 10,000-15,000 people although we've always been horrible at guessing how many people are in a given place. Chappelle was probably the smartest one in there, but by the end of the night pretty much everyone there felt like they were his best friend. It was supernatural. You get that same feeling when you listen to a Devin album. It's the reason he's accumulated such a loyal following. If you've never given him a chance (on account of his buggy eyes, we assume), give these a spin/click:
"Broccoli and Cheese": Why yes, not only does Devin reveal that his penis is immaculately clean, but that it would be appropriate to serve it with either collard greens or broccoli and cheese. Also, one of the other things that endears Devin to hip-hop heads is his ability to storytell without sounding manufactured. He usually accomplishes this through three or four well-placed lines, but the effect is resounding. Here, for example, when he's talking about a fancy restaurant, he describes it as having "smothered shit." There aren't 12 other people who would've felt it necessary to include that line, but it might be the best part of the song.
"Lacville '79": "My passenger side window, sometimes it just don't wanna raise." How is that not brilliant?
"What A Job": It's kind of cool to think about a guy sitting there drinking and smoking, trying to write a song about a guy who's sitting there drinking and smoking and trying to write a song. It's like when you put two mirrors across from each other and they just go on forever. How high do you have to be to write this?
"Don't Fake" feat. Bun B and Trae: Whenever you get a group of guys together, everyone automatically falls into a role. It's just the way humans are wired. There's always a tough guy, an old head who becomes the de facto leader and a funny guy (who is invariably either really skinny or really fat). We're pretty sure we can guess which Devin was when these three got together.
"Anythang": This is probably the best example of the Devin paradigm. On the same album that offers "Freak" (you can guess what that's about) and the pragmatic "Cooter Brown" (your guess would be totally wrong here), he drops "Anythang," one of the sincerest, most open-hearted songs in his long discography. There are no witty wordplays or clever similes. It's just raw hurt. If you can listen to him sing "You ain't the only one who knows pain" and not feel like a douche for being upset that the Facebook friend request you sent to ?uestlove has yet to be approved - even though it's totally obvious that he's checked his page at least twice since you sent it - you're a soulless person. Enjoy the weekend.
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