From my last review, people could tell that I wasn’t exactly the biggest lover of Southern Hip Hop. I’m from Seattle myself, but despite everyone around me – I don’t jump on anything west coast. I have liked East Coast rap from day one and it will always be my expertise. For that very reason, I have slept on a lot of Southern albums that I should not have. There’s still some Dirty South garbage that I passed on that I don’t regret at all, but to Devin Copeland (aka Devin the Dude) – I owe a huge apology.
My introduction to the underground veteran from Houston was just a couple months ago as I was listening to my favorite song from Hi-Tek’s recent album Hi-Teknology 2 – “So Tired”. A great purely Dirty South effort, and fantastic because it is the GOOD Southern rap. I liked all the verses, but I was curious with Devin the Dude’s because I had heard his name many a time before, but never really checked him out. Upon hearing his great guest appearance here, I was interested in listening to his forthcoming album Waitin’ to Inhale… and boy am I glad that I did.
Let me just say that Devin is an extraordinary MC. He doesn’t sound like he demands your attention, but he still nevertheless gets it. He has this amazing tone to him, this swagger that says “I’m not really trying to sound charismatic but it still somehow works.” He doesn’t rap with a full-on vocabulary, doesn’t have complex rhyme schemes, and doesn’t bust out with the braggadocio. Devin is just there to express himself, and it is absolutely beautiful. This here, ladies and gentlemen, is a true artist. His style is a comical yet depressing self-contempt that I’ve honestly never heard another rapper employ (at least to this extent). His 4th solo effort Waitin’ to Inhale just might be his most complete and defining album.
Just as soon as the first actual song “She Want That Money” hits, you already know the ride that this album will provide. The song has a beat that I can’t really explain, it's just dope. An extremely sparse and simplistic work of sonic perfection, it’s a perfect backdrop for the somber-turned-amusing tale that Devin and his boys rap about. The story is about a girl that they meet who offers sexual favors for money. However, hilarity ensues as he convinces her to just give it to him for free. Devin might be one of the funniest rappers I’ve had the pleasure of listening to. You know the type of people that are funny because they never laugh at their own jokes, they just say their humor as if it's not all that funny? THAT is Devin’s rap style. It’s so unique and yet so ill.
Devin continues his journey as the undeground’s loser with “Almighty Dollar”. While most rappers will tell you that their pockets have an abundance of cash, Devin is completely broke, and so the song is about trying to get by with however little he has. Sounds tragic, but once again, his brilliance lies in the fact that he always amuses you, even when it seems like he doesn’t mean to. The hilarious creativity keeps coming on “Hope I Don’t Get Sick A Dis” – an ode to his skills with women and how he hopes he never gets bored with them.
I know that only a quarter of the year has gone by, but there is reason to believe that by December everyone will be in agreement that “What A Job” was one of the best songs of the year. Jesus, where to begin? There are pieces of music that you listen to and you think “damn, now THIS is music”. That is what this beat does to me. A simply perfect acoustic loop that absolutely commands your head to bob, with Snoop Dogg and Andre 3000 joining Devin in explaining why they do this job.
Devin and Andre are excellent as expected, but it is Snoop Dogg who completely baffled me. Folks, this might be his greatest verse ever. Yes, 15 years in the game, Snoop has reached his magnum opus right here. When clown-rappers like Mims saying “I could sell a mill saying nothing on the track”, most people would be under the impression that being a rapper is one of the easiest jobs in the world. “What A Job” is about how being a rapper is not the fun and play that is portrayed in the mainstream, but a legitimate occupation that is their only source of income to sustain their lives. But even on top of that, the ultimate pay-off is the satisfaction of doing what you love for a living. This Is What Real Hip Hop Is!
Devin is an open MC, and that is possibly where his humor stems from. We can all agree that a lot of life is unintentionally funny in how it works out, and so honest men like Devin are comedians as well. “She Useta Be” is the anthem for every loser-turned-winner. If you’ve ever had a girl who dissed you when you liked her, but then began to actually start paying attention to you once you started succeeding and being your own man – this is your anthem. Hell, it sure is one for me as it is easily relatable. While the story is pretty outrageous (which is why it is so funny), the overall concept is one that the majority of men can feel. It starts out with Devin reminiscing about this girl that he used to have a thing for back in high school. She was a dime and he would always chase but she would never pay any attention to him. Several years and 150 lbs later…well, I’m sure you all can figure out the rest.
Through the midst of the laughs and laid-back attitude, there is a moment of grave seriousness, and Devin delves into that with the single “Lil Girl Lost.” Remember Ludacris’ recent single “Runaway Love”, where Luda described the lives of little girls who have been stripped of a normal childhood and their innocence? Devin, who is joined by Lil Wayne and Bun B, basically covers the same topic, though their message hits a lot harder without sounding cliché or forced like Ludacris’ track. Any doubters of Wayne should really check out the song as it is a true testament to how this man has grown from a typical dirty south tyke to a serious and solid rapper. However, it is Bun B’s tale that completely saddens me with every listen, as it is his verse that nails the premise of the song perfectly. The production is beyond words, with an incredible piano and flute backdrop that would stifle anyone with inspiration.
Besides that track, the production throughout the whole album is dope. Most of it has a consistent laid-back, Southern sound – and by Southern I don’t mean repulsive Crunk synthesizers. From the smooth “No Longer Needed Here”, to the head-nodder “Broccoli and Cheese” – most every beat here is ill.
The only hiccups on this album come on a couple tracks that are a bit too eclectic to really enjoy. “Nothin To Roll With” doesn’t need much more than the title as an explanation, while “Til It’s All Gone” is a bit of an uninspired outro that returns to the theme of marijuana-use. Devin will never in his life hide his love for the herb.
As I stated above, Devin’s uncanny ability to combine a chilled laid-back swagger with hilarious undertones that foil it ideally is unmatched by anyone. He’s here to be himself and be honest, but also entertain, such as the twisted “Just Because”, where he discusses every little bit he would love to do to his ex-girlfriend. It is so horrifically sadistic, but you can’t help but burst out laughing at the calmness in his voice, as if he is saying it with love. “Cutcha Up” is wonderfully creative, in fact so far-fetched that most listeners will not even get it. What seems to be a song dedicated to an underage girl that he desires, is actually him anticipating the coming-of-age of a weed plant, which has to be just ripe for him to take it. Once you get what he is talking about here, it goes from “this guy is sick!” to “this man is a genius…”.
With that said, I don’t think there is much to leave off here other than to say this man is a genius, as he has crafted one of the most beautifully calm classics that I’ve heard in a very long time. Waitin’ to Inhale is a pleasantly refreshing listen that will take your mind off stresses and help you relax, laugh, and just remember what is truly important in your life.