Devin The Dude Reflects On Rap-A-Lot Days, Marijuana & New Album ‘Soulful Distance’

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(AllHipHop Features)

Devin The Dude is a legend in hip-hop, one of the leading pioneers for the stoner rap movement. Exploding onto the scene with his unique rapping style and love for marijuana, it was his 2002 hit singles “Lacville ’79” and “Doobie Ashtray” that reached the masses all around the world.

The Houston-bred recording artist was signed to Rap-A-Lot Records as part of Odd Squad, later joining Scarface’s Facemob group before embarking on his solo artistry journey. On top of the 10 albums he’s released in his 3 decade-long career, his feature game carries weight in itself:

Offering verses on Dr. Dre’s “F### You,” De La Soul’s “Baby Phat,” Slim Thug’s “I’m Back,” Gucci Mane’s “Kush Is My Cologne,” and many more.

Fast forward to 2021, Devin hasn’t let his foot off the gas pedal in the slightest. When he’s not racing RC cars, he’s locked in the studio doing what he loves best: creating music. Now, he gifts fans with his highly-anticipated new project titled Soulful Distance, speaking volumes to these current times while standing out from the rest of the bunch.

AllHipHop: How are you holding up?

Devin The Dude: I’m fine, coolin’. Enjoying this day. The album released today so I’m excited, but also nervous about that.

AllHipHop: Why you nervous?!

Devin The Dude: On every release date for me, you try to work hard on something then try to get appreciated. You check out the response to get a general idea on what’s going down, how people feel about your sound.

AllHipHop: Soulful Distance is out now. How are you feeling?

Devin The Dude: I’m excited! I’m more excited than I am nervous. I want to see the response on it man, it’s been a couple of years since I did my last album. I wanted to make sure I’m still on point and everything’s cool.

AllHipHop: Why did you name it, Soulful Distance?

Devin The Dude: Going through what we’re going through right now, that’s the big topic. It’s hard to even try to think about a lot of other stuff that’s the norm when we’re going through this. We got to still make sense of it all, hope for the best, and continue to live. I was summing it up on Soulful Distance. It’s a double meaning, keeping a certain style of music from the rest.

AllHipHop: How has COVID affected you, your life, your artistry?

Devin The Dude: Other than not traveling as much, going on the road and the nightlife, which I don’t really do a whole bunch of nightlife stuff anyway, everything’s regular. It gives you time to think, clean up the crib or whatever you need to do. Make the best of your time during this type of situation here. Family’s important, everything that’s important really makes sense during these times. You don’t really get a chance to absorb everything or stay tuned. Now, you’re at home most of the time with immediate family. You can go on the phone, Facebook. You’re talking to your people a lot more than you would if we weren’t in this current condition.

AllHipHop: Shout out to Grouchy Greg from AllHipHop, he said #RapALotforlife.

Devin The Dude: Oh yeah, nothing like Rap-A-Lot man. They laid that foundation of the independent rap label and a lot of people followed after them. It was real cool, Rap-A-Lot had a definite stamp on hip-hop so I’m happy to be a part of that.

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Devin the Dude

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Devin the Dude

AllHipHop: What were your fondest memories?

Devin The Dude: A lot of them. I remember being at the studio. Hippie House or another studio called Knock Hard, seeing a lot of different artists come through over a period of time. Get the chance to meet them and sometimes work with them, sharing ideas and sharing influences. That happened over periods of time too. All of them are grand, it’s a pleasure to be a part of that. All the different artists from Big Mello all the way down to Face. Bushwick gave us a lot of game, a very knowledgeable cat. The Convicts, Too Much Trouble, 5th Ward Boyz, on and on. It’s a long list. Dana Dane, he was about to sign with Rap-A-Lot for a while. I got a chance to work with him. I wrote quite a bit of the album, but that never came out. It was fire, I wish we would’ve had the chance to put that Dana Dane album out.

AllHipHop: Dang, what happened?

Devin The Dude: I don’t know. Next thing I know, it was a few months later. I don’t know what kind of deal they had, I never asked. I didn’t care, I was glad to be a part of the project. A few months later, he moved out to LA.

AllHipHop: How do you view today’s rap game compared to back then? We’re in the streaming social media era.

Devin The Dude: It’s lucrative now. You can make a lot of money back in the day. Now if you’re on top of knowing what you’re doing independently, it’s an outlet for a lot of artists to be in the game. You can now do a studio in your bathroom if you want to, it doesn’t take that much room. You can promote yourself. You do a lot of things hands-on on your own and learn as you go, versus learning the hard way back in the day. Making it back in the day, it seems like a lot of people had a lot of money. A few of them did but for the most part, a lot of labels were getting the bulk of it.

AllHipHop: How did you meet Snoop back in the day?

Devin The Dude: We just had a relationship man. Since 3-2 and Big Mike from the Convicts, they went out there in early 90’s. It was gonna be Convicts on Death Row, creating a bridge with Rap-A-Lot. They’re introducing our music, some of the unheard Rap-A-Lot stuff to them and vice versa. They’re sharing music and ideas. Dr. Dre and Snoop liked a couple of our Odd Squad songs. I got word they’re really diggin’ a couple of our songs, I got excited. Ever since then, we’re searching for each other and hoping to run into each other. A few years later, we got a chance to work on The Chronic album.

AllHipHop: How was it working with Dr. Dre?

Devin The Dude: It was incredible man! You learn a lot working with him, especially production-wise. If you’re into production and you want to know how to build from the ground up, that’s a really good lesson to take. To observe him along with a lot of different musicians, the way they lay the skeleton down, how they put the meat, skin, and hair on it, making a cool body of work. [laughs]

AllHipHop: Can we get a Devin, Short, and Face Mob compilation album?

Devin The Dude: That’d be nice! We did a few songs together already. I’d love to work with Face and Short again on any other project. We always have good chemistry in the studio and the vibe’s real down-to-earth. Not so serious, but serious. Crack jokes and trip out but when it comes down to working, we start working.

Are you guys blowing tree? I know you always are.

Devin The Dude: Yes ma’am. Right now, I’m about to have a race tonight. I race RC cars so I can’t get too zooted right now. I can’t drink or smoke too much, I gotta get ready. These are my babies right here.

AllHipHop: I had to look up RC cars.

Devin The Dude: Remote control cars. That’s a ⅛ scale Buggy and a Truggy. I compete in those and I race. We have a race tonight.

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A post shared by Devin The Dude (@devindude420)

AllHipHop: How good are you?

Devin The Dude: Go to my Instagram and take a look: @devindude420. There’s a bunch of pictures. It’s hard for me to drive and film. Maybe tonight I’ll get somebody to film me actually driving, but I got pictures of me winning.

AllHipHop: How did you get into that?

Devin The Dude: Man, something like this. An interview 10 to 15 years ago, when a young lady was doing this interview on me. She’s asking me questions like “well, what do you like to do?” Shill, drink, smoke, and hang out. She said “no no, other than drinking or smoking. What do you like to do?” I chill with my family, we like to watch movies and listen to music. She said “no no, not your family. Not your friends smoking and drinking, what do you like to do? What do you like?” I said “I told you! I smoke, drink, and chill. Can you move on please to the next question?” I was upset with myself.

AllHipHop: Oh my gosh!

Devin The Dude: I was upset with myself, because I didn’t have s### to do other than that. I had to ask myself: damn, what do you like to do? Any hobbies? I started thinking, she might be right. I gotta find something to do other than what I’m doing with music and chillin’. I thought about me and my brother back in the day, we always used to have remote control cars and race tracks, football games. A lot of things dealing with remote controls. I was fascinated about race car tracks. You look under the bottom, you see the rubber and magnet, the different pieces you can exchange to make it faster. I was excited as a kid back then. What can I do to help bring some excitement? Like I had when I was a kid. Hmmm… remote control.

At the time, it was remote control helicopters out. It was before drones, they turned quad copters into drones to make it sound more scary. When it came to drones, it made a lot of people more weary about having them around. They think all of them are taking pictures, but the first drones didn’t even have cameras on them. Helicopters got my attention. What if I had a small helicopter bringing me a Swisher Sweets cigar from one side of the room to the other side of the room? I wanted to have it pick up stuff and bring it to me, tie something to the base level of it somewhere and maneuver it over to me. I started getting infatuated to the point where I had a whole bunch of helicopters laying around the house.

AllHipHop: Wow!

Devin The Dude: It was furniture and helicopters. After the helicopters, I started racing RC cars, basking the Traxxas brand before I started getting introduced into other brands of RC cars. The Traxxas brand was the most reliable and the fastest one out at the time. I collected those, then I went to the actual race vehicles. These are the ones you race on a small-scaled motocross track. I started racing on the weekends, really getting in tune with it. Learning how to not only fix them, but to build them and make them faster. Every car had its own personality so every car drove a little different. One was laidback or one was stylish, the other one was really quick. That had my attention for a while, still does right now.

AllHipHop: What’s the top speed for those?

Devin The Dude: My top speed one goes 137 miles per hour. The average ones I have are tuned down. They’re tuned down to go slower because the straightaway on the track, you can’t go more than 50 to 60 mph. There’s no need to put more battery power or throttle in it because over a period of time, you got a race 10 minutes straight around this lap. You don’t want nothing to burn up and overheat, you gotta tune it down. I can make these go 75 mph, but I got it to 60 right now.

AllHipHop: You’re one of the pioneers of stoner rap, how does that feel?

Devin The Dude: It feels wonderful now. It wasn’t so cool back in the day, getting kicked off stage from the Odd Squad era. Now it’s more common to smoke or to talk about weed in rap. You can even talk about it on the radio now. Back then it wasn’t an easy task, but it’s a part of my life so it’s going to be a part of my rap or conversation.

AllHipHop: How much of an influence did marijuana have on your music?

Devin The Dude: It’s a part of my everyday. I smoked a lot. Before I started rapping, I was breakdancing. It’s always been there but when I started rapping, I rapped about what we did and that’s one of the things. Not necessarily saying it was an influence, but it was a part of my life or my rap. Rap was a conversation to somebody else. In our conversations, we normally talk about weed. No matter what the situation may be, weed’s going to be in there. Happy or sad situation: every song, no matter how or what way it’s going, you add weed in there somehow and someway.

AllHipHop: How much is Devin the Dude smoking in a day?

Devin The Dude: If I’m trying to prove a point, I could probably smoke an ounce. To myself, I could do about half and still be able to function.

AllHipHop: First thing you do when you wake up?

Devin The Dude: I make some coffee, roll up and smoke. I pray, get my coffee, go on Youtube and look at some crazy s###. Funny stuff.

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AllHipHop: “Doobie Ashtray” was a moment, what was Devin like then?

Devin The Dude: Pretty much the same way I am now man, really trying to hold onto all my doobies. Trying to make sure I’m straight when I come back to the crib, fire one up. I’m the same. I used to do a lot of extravagant stuff, but now I’m more low pro. I like to hangout and chill. Ain’t nothing really changed since then, just the time.

AllHipHop: What’s your favorite weed strain?

Devin The Dude: Mine, it’s called Lacville79. It’s really, really good. The best I’ve ever smoked was back in the day around 2007, the White Widow. White Widow was a hit back then. I don’t know how it’s grown now but it used to be real, real sticky and crystally. I could stick it on the refrigerator and it’d stay there. So potent, you had to put it out. You couldn’t really smoke the whole suite in one take. But LacVille 79 is some good s###.

AllHipHop: Why did you name it LacVille 79?

Devin The Dude: Well, I didn’t name it. It was guys at The Bakery out in LA, much love. They’re going over some strains and a few plants. I don’t know how they counted, but they had 115 different plants or something. The 79th one was the one they went with: “oh yeah, this is it.” One of the guys working there said “hey, what about getting in touch with Devin and call it Lacville 79?” Ring! They reached out to me, I said “let me see how it tastes. Let me see what it is first.”

My manager was telling me they had everything in line, ready to go. All we had to do was do merch and okay it. I said “Well I can’t okay anything I haven’t smoked.” I can’t sign any paperwork. He said they got the paperwork ready and everything ready to go, I had to at least taste. It just so happened he had some, brought it to me right then. I smoked some of that and said “s###, do you have the paperwork with you?”

AllHipHop: Really?

Devin The Dude: Yeah, it was purple and dense. Everything I like about weed is in that strain right there.

AllHipHop: You also have your own beer, Devin the Dude’s Brew.

Devin The Dude: It originated out there in Sweden by Omnipollo, the name of the brewery out there. They specialize in craft beers. When I was out there, they asked me if I’d mind growing a beer out there. Well, I don’t really do any of that fruity stuff. I don’t drink the flavored fruity beers. They said “well, we’ll do a Pilsner for you.” Okay, you’d do that for me? So they came up with it. They went to Ethiopia, they grew it out in Ethiopia somewhere but the recipe was in Sweden for quite a while. It was doing pretty cool but it was hard getting it shipped here. The airports, you need to wear a helmet if you want to buy from overseas like that. They gon’ hit you over the head with the price. We finally got a chance to have it here, start growing it in Austin. This summer, anybody can have the Dude’s Brew out here in America man. We should be able to ship it to you.

AllHipHop: How are you liking social media, and this IG Live?

Devin The Dude: I’m just now getting into the swing of things. This is my third Live ever.

AllHipHop: Your fans have nothing but positive things to say about you, it’s really beautiful to be honest.

Devin The Dude: Man, it’s a blessing to be still part of the game right now. Being appreciated because that’s the only reason why I stepped into the game. Cadillacs and a record contract, all those things are accomplished so everything else is gravy.

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AllHipHop: What inspired “To Each His Own”?

Devin The Dude: The beat, going back to some old school way of writing back in the day. What I used to like about rappers and rhyming, everybody’s the originator. They big up themselves and talk about how people copy their style, it popped off like that. It was really no certain instance or person or anything that got me into that mood of writing. That beat and the first word that came to mind was “sloppily, they copy me.” I thought that was cool. [laughs] I wrote a couple of bars with the same words rhyming, hmmm let me keep on rhyming these words. I did the whole two verses rhyming with the same syllables.

AllHipHop: How do you pick your beats or producers? I know you like to work with Rob Quest.

Devin The Dude: Rob Quest baby, yes sir! Blind Rob in the Odd Squad! Our chemistry and what we have in the studio since ‘89, ‘90. We know each other’s vibe. He can produce for anybody, he got a wide range of music because he listens to everything. He plays drums, plays keyboards, bass, whatever you put in front of him. If he don’t know how to play it, he’ll learn. He’s real cool, there’s nothing like Rob’s beats to me. Rob’s my favorite producer. There’s a lot of other producers I work with too that are really fire, hopefully I’ll get the chance to do some more on the Coffee Brothers album. Last 3 albums were mostly Rob Quest, a cool state of mind. Positive state of mind.

AllHipHop: What do you want fans to get from Soulful Distance?

Devin The Dude: A positive state of mind. Cool state of being, living and enjoying your life. Not saying to disregard what’s going on, but don’t have that affect your life so much that it puts a damper on how you want to live.

AllHipHop: Are we going to get a part two of Lil Duval and your movie Hillbilly Highway?

Devin The Dude: I’d love to. It’ll be my pleasure, man. I love working with Lil Duval, Coke Daniels, Eddie Griffin, Tiny was in there man. Oh man, Gary Owens. The whole cast was cool, Eric Estrada was in there. I was starstruck walking around there. I was blessed to be in a movie and have a part like that. Ask Coke Daniels man, he directed that so hopefully we do that again.

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AllHipHop: RIP Tiny, who was in Hillbilly Highway. Any memories?

Devin The Dude: That’s my first time meeting him, but he was a cool brother to me. He was just cool. He didn’t seem like he was a star. He didn’t act like a superstar. He was very down-to-earth and easy to talk to. I appreciate him even talking to me, being so laid back and cool. He didn’t even know me at all.

AllHipHop: Does Devin play Call of Duty?

Devin The Dude: No, I don’t play Call of Duty. I wouldn’t mind it, but it’s a lot. A lot of people online, a lot of kids playing. You got to get on there and talk, they be cussing each other out. I do play, I like GTA. I like basketball, I play basketball. I like Red Dead Redemption, that’s pretty cool. Lately, I haven’t been playing a lot.

AllHipHop: What is your favorite album to record, besides the new one?

Devin The Dude: I think The Dude album was a lot of fun. My first album in ‘98, that was a lot of fun. Features on there and just the excitement of just getting into the water to swim, by myself. Face being the overnight production coordinator. He was doing beats, getting people featured for me. KB, my home boy from ATL represented Odd Squad. Represented DJ Domo. I got a lot of help, it was cool. My solo album felt like a group project anyway.

AllHipHop: What’s your favorite food?

Devin The Dude: My mama’s meatloaf! Meatloaf with rice and some cream corn smothered over in rice, some good sweet cornbread. I might do a meatloaf tonight, you making me hungry now!

AllHipHop: Any last words you want to let the people know?

Devin The Dude: Much love to all my fans and everybody out there supporting me and showing me love. That’s why I’m doing this. I’m doing it for you guys. I appreciate that love, it’s always appreciated. I’ll be putting out some more music!

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