Ever since he first stepped onto the scene in ‘98 with his cult-classic debut, The Dude, Devin the Dude (born Devin Copeland) has been dazzling heads with his self-mocking humor and southern-fried production. Now back with Waitin’ to Inhale, his fourth solo album, Devin sat down with HipHopCrack.com to weigh in on the ups and downs of being hip-hop’s version of Richard Pryor.
If there’s one thing you would like to achieve with this album, what would it be?
I don’t really want to prove anything. But if I can have a 4th solo album and people appreciate it, that’s good enough for me.
“Little Girl Gone” touches on a heavy subject. What inspired that song?
It’s the music itself. A lot of times I hear the music and it says something to me. So, I try to meditate and marinate to it. With “Little Girl Gone,” all I could hear was a message type story, something that’s not a happy story. We just added the guests (Lil’ Wayne, Bun B, Tony Mac, Tami Latrell) while mixing and mastering it. The song had been around for a while.
Your style is lighthearted and entertaining. Does it ever bother you that people might pigeonhole you because of that?
Not really. But sometimes, they’ll say it’s always weed, wine and women. And I don’t mind because certain things that I say tend to be accepted by some people in the game. Artists come to me specifically when they want to make open-minded songs…I don’t mind that at all.
Why do you think people sleep on you on a national level?
It lets me know that I still got some work to do, some things to accomplish, some things to strive for. If that’s what I want–to make myself a household name. But that’s not my specific idea of what I’m doing this for. Certain things you just gotta earn. You don’t control the tides. I love music. I don’t know where I am or where I got to go, but I still know that I got work to do.
What would you say to the people who criticize the dirty south scene as a whole?
Come down to H-Town and venture out to some of these hip-hop spots. You go to one place and it’ll be like a down south swangin’ and you go to another spot and it’ll be straight lyrical bashing and party-raps. There are different types of raps and different realms of it, and we always appreciated that. Back in the day, I used to record on my cassette, west coast, east coast, etc. Anything that had to do with rap that was hot at the time, we would play it. And that’s how our culture evolved.
Who are your personal influences?
Run-DMC, T La Rock…he was like lyrical lyrical. You know how you can just quote your favorite artist and go word for word? I don’t know one person that can listen to T La Rock as a fan of T La Rock and go word for word with him.
What artists do you admire for their comical content?
Slick Rick, Blowfly, Just Ice, and Biz Markie.
What’s your favorite album from the Devin the Dude catalog?
It’s hard to say, man. I know I had a lot of fun with The Dude album. Looking back on it, we did a lot of trippin’. There were so many thoughtful songs on there. The beat is still knocking but you have to listen to the words. Just Tryin’ Ta live was a good experience too. But i don’t have a favorite. It’s like my kids. I have four of them, and I couldn’t tell you which one I love the most.
In regards to the DJ Drama/RIAA scandal, would you say that mix tapes have been instrumental to the rap game?
I think they probably have been helping so much that some shit like that would go down, you know. The powers that be would rather see us out there slangin’ cocaine instead of trying to do music. It’s so powerful now, especially with DJs like that who have been putting it down and helping out artists. I don’t know exactly what went down but you have to be aware that this is our way of coming up now.
Is it safe to say that you’re the Richard Pryor of hip-hop?
If somebody said that I wouldn’t mind it at all, but I probably wouldn’t say that. Richard Pryor, man…he brought that comic relief. He was like an uncle I never had around.
Your album title Waiting to Inhale, you’re talking about air, right?
[Laughs] It could be air. It could be some good weed. It could be goodness, you know.
Whatever you wish to inhale
How do you want to be remembered 5-10 years from now: “Devin the Dude the artist that________?”
If they would just stop at “Devin the Dude” that’ll be cool. I just want to be remembered, man. A lot of people would say that what I do is nothing to be proud of. I just want people to remember me.