Tuesday, July 6, 2004
It's no secret that Texas is a state populated primarily by self-admiring, soft-headed boneheads and shitkicker-wearing nimrods with belt buckles as big as their constant-look-of-surprise faces. Between the raging floodwaters and Dubya's insistence that all non-Caucasians register at the border, it doesn't seem to be a very welcoming environment for a rapper, let alone a rapper who makes no secret of his love of R & B (reefer and beer). But alas, Houston native Devin the Dude continues to thrive and produce stoned, funky gems from within the armpit of North America. July 13 marks the release date for "To Tha X-Treme," Devin's latest LP. lawrence.com spoke with Devin the Dude about parenthood, sluts, and boo boo'n. F'sho.
lawrence.com: Is this Devin?
Yeah, this is.
This is Tim vonHolten from lawrence.com. How you doin'?
- Friday, July 9, 2004, 10 p.m.
- Bottleneck, 737 New Hampshire, Lawrence
- All ages / $10
Yeah, yeah, what's up man?
How you doin'?
Cool. You got a couple minutes to talk?
Yeah, man. Hold on just a second though, all right? Everything all right out there?
Yeah, doin' all right.
Yeah, okay, cool. We're gettin' a little rain out here.
That's what I hear.
Yeah, man, but it's all right.
Are you staying dry?
Oh, man. Dry as I can.
So you're having some flooding problems, right? You had to postpone your show here.
(pause) Yeah, yeah, some flooding. Some flooding, yeah. I thought you said 'slutting.' (laughing) I thought you said 'slut problems.'
(laughing) We can talk about your slut problems if you want.
No, no man, it's cool. Those problems are over with, man.
Glad to hear it.
Yeah man, with the flood out here it's kinda wild. Houston, when they get rain, when they get a lotta rain, the drainage system really just don't hold up too good. But they workin' on it.
Was your studio flooding, or your house, or what?
No, just in the city period.
You've got a new record coming out soon. "To Tha X-Treme" is due out July 13, right?
That's correct, man.
Everything on schedule?
Yeah, everything is a go, man. It'll be out then, man, There's been a lot of work done on it. It was gonna be a double album at first, but I was like, no, it wasn't quite cool enough, I guess, for a double album, so we just narrowed it down to one.
Can you give us any preview of what it's gonna be like?
It's got a wide range of producers on it, a lot of independent producers, you know, local. And we got the regulars, which is myself and my homeboys for many years, who have been doing tracks with us for many years. DJ Domo and Rob, Carlos, and JB on the guitars. And I've got a track from Mr. Mixx from 2 Live Crew, that was real cool. I got a track from Tone Capone from California, you know the guy that did "Sticky Green" on the "Dude" album. And a cat named Oonoe, Oonoe Blast. He's from Compton but he's been livin' in Houston for a while. He did the title track called "To Tha X-Treme." There's a song on the album called "To Tha X-treme," so I just kinda took that in reference to, like, summing up the album.
It sounds like the Houston rap scene is pretty healthy.
Oh yeah, man, f'sho, you got cats doin' things. You got like homeboy Cory Mo, he produced a track on the album too, and he's rappin' on it too, and he's local and he's been doin' things and workin' on his stuff. And Rob Quest from the Odd Squad, he did a little producin' on there. I had a lotta help this time, as far as the producin' side of it.
You got a lot of recognition as a result of your collaborations with people like Dre, Dilated Peoples, De La Soul, Jay-Z, R. Kelly. And your fans are rabid about you -- but you're still pretty underground. Do you like it that way?
Yeah, when I came into it, man, I didn't really ask for much of it. I just wanted to be kind of recognized and just be appreciated for just having some type of difference in the game, which is then being able to be a part of the game for a while. Just for people to come up and say they heard a song that they liked, pretty much that was satisfying me when I first started. So I still like to feel it, it keeps me goin'.
And you're respected by other rappers -- Nas and Xhibit appeared on your last record -- so that's gotta count for a lot.
In your song, "Who's That Man, Moma," are you making fun of your own usual themes like booze, infidelity, and reefer?
Actually, that's kinda like a sad song instead of like a laughin' matter. Actually, it was almost like a blues-type song. ... I was just sad at the way artists have to live. It's pretty sad when they have to go do their shows and they have people there that have the kids there that are obviously too young to hear it and see certain things, I guess. I don't know, I can't be the judge, so we -- us, as artists still have to take it on ourselves to try and go out there and try to balance what you can do and how you can do it. If you gotta raw show, it's hard not to bring a raw show to wherever you are. And then when there's kids involved and they don't understand and it's like a miscommunication. And if you're written up in the papers and stuff the next day, it's kinda...
So you wouldn't say that your music is suited for all ages, then.
I wouldn't say that. I wouldn't say that because it depends on the parents and the people that bring them to the shows to have that guidance already, to already know what's happenin' and what's not happenin', the way they should be raised, I guess, as right as they can raise them. I guess if they already on point, y'know, with parenthood and stuff, yeah, they can bring them to the shows and they'll understand you can't say or do that. You just come and enjoy the show. I'm takin' my time out to bring you to the show. You just listen and do your homework when you get home or whatever.
Are you a parent?
Yeah. I am.
Do you let your kids listen to your music? What do you tell them as far as how to handle your lyrics?
Well, they know what to say and what not to say. And if they can say or recite a verse from anybody's lyrics -- they can recite a poem that's given to them in an English class, you know poetry or a poem or something. They can remember mathematician problems or they can remember anything if they can remember a verse or whatever they're listening to as far as music. But as far as my music, I try not to leave it around 'em. When they was real young, when they was just born, a year or two, when I was young at parenthood or whatever? Yeah, I would bang music, I would play whatever around 'em and stuff. But as they get older you realize there's just certain things you have to do to teach them to learn by example. And I tell 'em to do this, or ask 'em to do a certain thing that doesn't involve music, just involves schooling or something that elevate their mind a little more than music. But music is their thing too, and they'll pick it up and listen to it without me bein' around too, so as long as they know what's happenin' and what they can do, and to be respectful ... and chill, and don't use those words unless there's some type of meaning around it.
Do you think there's a shortage of humor in rap?
Humor branches off. It's got different branches of humor, and it depends on what kind it is. There's harsh humor, there's reality humor, there's government humor. It branches off so much, it depends on what kind of humor they're gonna use in it. ... A lot of humor was in the game, but right now it's like a freestyle-type song mode that's happenin'.
Rap seems to be taking itself pretty seriously these days.
It's funny. It's funny because they're talkin' about somebody else, like a battle-type rap. They say something funny about somebody else, that's the kind of humor it is now, these days, instead of "I went to my homeboy's to eat some chicken, instead it taste like wood," you know, just some real shit you do every day. (laughs) It's not that type of humor no more. It's just like some personal stuff happenin'.
So you're talking mostly about, like emcee battles?
Yeah. Yeah, not exactly. I mean, they're sayin' the root of it. And the root of it is now comin' back around. And it's real heavy. ... A lotta young cats who's rappin' really dug through how it became, and it became about just rappin', just conversation about yourself or whatever, and a lotta times that's braggin', or talkin' somebody else down.
Any surprises on the new record? Any heavy hitters on this one?
I got Eightball, man! That heavy enough for ya? I got Eightball. Eightball and MJG. Yeah, that's my dog, right? He came in and put it down for me on a song called "The Funk."
Is there anybody you'd really like to work with that you haven't?
Man, so many. I can't begin to name. Actually, just like whoever reaches out for me, I'm kinda surprised at whoever, y'know. If I get a phone call from somebody just sayin, "Say man, we want you to come to the studio and get on some tracks with us and do somethin'," that's like a boost and a blessin', so whoever asks is cool, man. I got a lot of people I wouldn't mind workin' with. The list goes on and on and on. I'll be surprised whoever asks for me sometime.
Are you bringing a live band with you?
Nah, nah, nah. I'll probably just bring a few instrumentals, man, and some from the first album, y'know, up to the second album, and then maybe something new. Not too much. I'm just tryin' to give the people what they been askin' me about on the street. They'll mention a certain song and I just try to remember that and just try to bring it to the show.
That's what Lawrence wants, man, is a live band backing you up.
There was a thought. It has been done too. Like in D.C., when I go to D.C. I can't really even go there without doin' a live band show ... There's a few cats out there, like the Backyard Band, I perform with them a lot. I'm gonna be out there on the Fourth, and, you know, they insisted to do it live. (laughing) My CD means nothin', we don't use it when I go there. I try to do a few sets though, 'cause they know a few of the songs, so we do a few of the songs that they know, but songs they don't know or anything, I have it on the CD. We kind of improvise, and put it back and forth like that. A live band would be good, though, man. That's cool, like that vibe.
Anything you want to tell the people coming to your Lawrence show?
Come to have a good time. Whatever your problems are, leave 'em at the crib. Just come, be ready to cough with us and enjoy the night and just have fun and just chill. Do what you wanna do, long as you're grown, you know. Somebody else doin' some shit that you don't wanna do, just go boo boo somewhere or somethin'.
Okay, man. Stay dry.