Even if you don’t live in Houston, Texas or frequent Hip Hop shows, you know Devin the Dude. While other emcees strive for a larger-than-life image of drugs and women, Devin covers the same topics—but in a pedestrian, everyman way that mirrors at least one member of crews of friends everywhere. Listening to emcees like 50 Cent or Jay-Z provides escapism or motivation to get rich via illegal means. But hearing Devin’s equal coverage of life’s highs and lows will encourage fans to call the friends that he reminds them of to relive or reminisce about his songs’ tales. His Andre 3000 and Snoop Dogg-assisted “What A Job” hits home for musicians and anyone dedicated to their vocation, “I Can’t Make It Home” recounts drunk driving with cops in the rear, and “Too Cute” talks about chasing out-of-your-league women. With Suite 420, Devin remains the relatable emcee that fans have bonded with for the last dozen years, and a clone of the affable friend that everyday guys have bonded with through entire lifetims.
Two things that every troop’s Devin The Dude enjoys more than nearly anything are weed and women, and Suite 420 does its job of paying homage to both. Album opener “We Get High” features smoky bars about his chronic obsession, while “I Gotta Ho” matter-of-factly boasts about a well-rounded roster of girls. Don’t blow his buzz, or you’ll be the subject of a song like “Pick My Brain,” which he uses to gripe about thirsty emcees that bother him with industry questions while he’s at the club to have a good time. “This nigga’s bustin’ in talkin’ about publishing / When that ain’t the conversation we’re discussing / When we got a group of bitches over there in the mix…I don’t know right now how much I would charge for a verse / But I know that my dick is so hard that it hurts,” he complains under a self-produced beat that sounds like it belongs on Westside Connection's Bow Down debut. Wannabe Rap stars aren’t the only ones that fuck up Devin’s flow: “That Ain’t Cool” scolds jumpoffs that leave behind evidence like lipstick stains and hair strands that could get him in trouble with wifey.
As harsh as those latter songs sound, they’re oddly admirable. It’s not like Devin is ignoring aspiring artists and irresponsible broads to pour his paychecks into material possessions like cars, houses and jewelry. Instead, he appreciates nightly pleasures like greenery and gushy-stuff while making sure that he and his friends are always having a good time. Songs like “All You Need” (“All you need is weed and nothing else…all those other narcotics fuck up your health,” the chorus croons) and the standout Mike Dean-produced slow jam “I Can’t Handle It,” which features him singing in full R&B mode to win back a former flame, show where his priorities lie. Additionally, the inclusion of his Odd Squad crew and guest appearances by lesser-known talent like Korey-B and Scool Boy make the album’s personable, crew-friendly vibe as potent as the trees Devin smokes.
But as much as that friend of yours may seem like a directionless weedhead and panty-snatcher, he’ll occasionally drop a hint to show that he’s a layered person. The hook to “What I Be On” talks about Devin being focused on his grind and hustle, but in true, comical stoner fashion, the verses in between deviate back to his obvious topics of choice. He lends further chorus work to Rap duo 14K on “People Talk,” which sees the three of them dismissing gossip in a more relatable way than multiplatinum-selling artists’ ho-hum “fuck haters” rhymes. But Devin’s most insightful moment is on “Ultimate High” , which explains how simple things like waking up and working hard to provide for a grateful, loving family provide more elation than weed ever could.
Devin The Dude’s Suite 420 works so well because it does exactly what music, not just Hip Hop, is supposed to: chronicle life experiences in an enjoyable, digestible way. So turn this on and roll one up, pull out your cell phone to text a breezy, or grab a few brews and enjoy the camaraderie of your own odd squad. Whatever your choice is, just don’t forget to invite Devin in for the fun.