by John Tarpley
This Houston oddball has spent the better part of 12 years writing, recording and releasing instantly recognizable, soul-doused hip-hop tracks exclusively about, as he puts it, "wine, women and weed." Sure, it's not a broad scope. But that's why underground icon Devin the Dude and his songs about everyday life's simpler pleasures are, more than ever, a good-natured change of pace from other rappers concerned with being Richard Branson (Jay-Z) or Alexander McQueen (Kanye, that's you). There's no one else writing stone (and stoned — really stoned) classics about the little things, like having to scavenge an apartment on your hands and knees for weed after a rough day ("Doobie Ashtray") or loving a fussy, high-maintenance car in spite of yourself ("Lacville '79"). These aren't club bangers for the iced-out nightclub set or jigsaw puzzle MENSA songs for the backpackers; they're couch tracks for the workaday cats who know that, as Devin puts it, "anything is plenty and better than nothing at all." No private jets and supermodels here. The Dude is supported by a barge full of locals including 607, E Dubb, 4x4 Crew, Arkatext and more.