To say Devin the Dude is Houston's rap Yoda would seem like a slight to the Dude.
At 43 years old, he almost seems timeless, still rolling through copious amounts of weed while letting his inner thoughts bellow out in between tokes. His voice has never reached more than a lovable croak, switching between romantic anecdotes, a lovable car that seemingly won't get him to point B from point A ("Lacville '79"), or down-and-out blues ("Stray").
That has been Devin's motif for the better part of two decades; he's Houston's most relatable everyman who seemingly can't get a handle on love nearly as well as he can get a handle on a blunt -- or seven.
One For the Road, his eighth studio effort, seems like the most mature Devin Copeland has felt on wax. There's the playful oddball who appears on three separate skits as a a part-time radio-station shock jock who also delivers humorous ads about improving sexual impotence, but there's also the Devin who -- for once -- contemplates his mortality and moments of fatalism when things have hit their absolute bottom. "Stop Waiting" juts out, pushing around a pounding drum/hi-hat beat as Devin acts like a moral compass inside an echo chamber: "Stop waiting ... to die."
At this point in life, either the Dude is going to share a parable with you about his love life that seemingly can't find the straight and narrow, or he's going to drop off detailed words of encouragement. It's as if he's determined his wheelhouse long ago and continues to capitalize on it year in and year out.
The synth scales provided by C-Ray on "Reach For It" pack a measured punch as Devin sticks to the point of constantly running out and snatching his goals as opposed to waiting for them. Obviously that patience couldn't be any more absent on the album's lead single "Probably Should Have," where he's forced to throw in the towel on a possible good relationship thanks to his other mind overruling his main one at every single turn.
The Dude understands whimsy. He also understands when to crank up sex interludes such as "Hear the Sound," which reaches a rung not too far below "Sex Faces." His at times nasally singing voice has long been one of those hallmarks of his everyman approach.
Even when he fails (see "Probably Should Have"), Devin eventually finds a way to succeed. His producers follow this template rather effortlessly, as the lone "big" production on here, "I'm Just Gettin' Blowed" from Tha Business breezes through with saxophones and drums, itemizing a day in the life of the Dude who hasn't changed, no matter how many different strains of weed have passed through his system.
We've never taken Devin as one of Houston's more noted lyrical wordsmiths. Rather, he's a fan favorite for being straightforward, at times at ease and carefree and in others to . As long as there are shows to be performed, Devin will be there with a blunt rolled behind his ear. One For The Road doesn't represent the final say in Devin's career or even his worst chapter. It's more him accentuating those daily weed raps we've come to learn and understand since "Doobie Ashtray."
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