Many of us hip hop fans are more or less used to the ordinary mixtapes that feature rare b-sides, unreleased material, or the artist's selected tracks. Mixtapes have played an integral part in hip hop music as it was a way to spread the word about up and coming artists or to feature the "best of" from long time artists. With this in mind, now try and picture Texas hip hop emcee Devin the Dude's eccentric mixtape, far from your average run of the mill collection, perhaps a product of lazy afternoons filled with smoking weed, drinking, and sexual small talk. Hence the album title "Smoke Sessions Volume 1."
After fifteen years with his former label Rap-A-Lot, Devin the Dude comes back on the BCD Music Group label to lay down unreleased tracks full of absurdity and unusual explicit lyricism. The first series to come from Devin the Dude and fellow Coughee Brothers crew, "Smoke Sessions Volume 1" features a long list of guest appearances, melodic tunes, and unparalleled singing from Devin, himself and along with his hilarity, amuses us nonetheless.
If the cloud of smoke enveloping the album cover or title "Smoke Sessions Volume 1" doesn't give it away, I would have to come to my own conclusions and say that Devin the Dude can't resist the temptation to expresses his adoration for some Mary Jane. With a claps reminiscent of Notorious B.I.G.'s "Dead Wrong" in Devin the Dude's "Getting High" featuring Jugg Mugg and Rob, he slows it down and breaks down the art of smoking weed. Featuring Devin the Dude's singing skills in "Searching" he explains his continuous exploration with drugs, yet when asked what he is searching for, he yells out, "I don't know." With a soft guitar and raw, choppy beat, this slow paced song almost reminds me of an uncanny spoken word session with the extensive theme of drugs as Devin the Dude resorts to singing during the entire track.
Devin the Dude has a knack for being able to amuse us with his eccentric style and verbose lyricism pertaining to a wide array of sexual content. With this album in mind, Devin the Dude says, "If I did a mixtape I would have to bring back some old school shit." With that in mind, he brings it back old school the Devin the Dude way which entails a collection of his own version to slow jams from back in the day. Devin the Dude turns the Tony! Toni! Toné! Classic "Lay Your Head on My Pillow" into his own adaptation of "Lay Your Head on My Dildo" while expressing his take on Rose Royce's "I Want to Get Next To You" with his own rendition of " I Want to Stick D**k To You." "Mixtape 2" further reinforces Devin the Dude's madness as his approach to Hall and Oates' "Your Kiss is on My List" is turned into "Your Bitch is on His D**k." Yes indeed, Devin the Dude likes the words bitch and d**k and he sure isn't ashamed to use them.
"Take Me Home" features vocals from Baby Girl, with a style and voice similar to Erykah Badu. This funk track filled with keys and slow bass accentuates the sexually explicit lyricism from Devin the Dude as he goes into detail about his "relations" with this female as he tells her to "take me home." Devin the Dude doesn't shy away in "Makin' It Hard" which features Monique and T.J. as he goes in detail by saying, "Don't look that way at me girl, you're makin' it hard on my thang." With a simple guitar and bass, the humorous "Da Real Thang" features Odd Squad as he tries to compare himself to a female sex toy as he says:
"It swings, but it don't swang
It's hung, but it don't hang
It's not a natural ding-a-ling
Bitch, you need the real thang"
Apparently his competition is fierce and perhaps he feels a bit emasculated? This explains it all.
No, it's not world hunger or poverty that worries Devin the Dude, but it seems that the core of the problem is that more and more "stingy" girls who don't put out. Who knew? In "Stangy," Devin the Dude shows how difficult it is to get a lady in bed as he humorously tells a story about hitting on a female, but getting nothing in return as he says:
"When I asked for her name
She just wrote it on some paper
Followed by a number, told me holler at her later
I'm like, 'Later? What's up with tonight?'
She says, 'Devin we just met you and that just wouldn't be right
Because the mood and the man, all that gotta be perfect'
But I was thinking to myself maybe her pussy's just dingy
And she forgot to wash it or probably she just stangy"
Devin the Dude leaves us laughing and at times dumbfounded by his lyricism in "Smoke Sessions Volume 1," but only enhances the entertainment value of it all. His out of the ordinary singing abilities as an emcee and careless attitude is something to look forward to in future albums as it is rarely seen. Although his subject matter of drugs, sex, and women is at times redundant and the production shoddy, his sense of humor and openness to his wording supercedes the excessive areas of discussion. Surprisingly, it is his casualness of being offensive and the outright vulgarity in his lyricism that seems to bring his fans back. Devin the Dude brings a different perspective to what we know as a "mixtape" and absorbs his audience in doing so.
Music Vibes: 6 of 10 Lyric Vibes: 7 of 10 TOTAL Vibes: 6.5 of 10
Originally posted: April 29, 2008