Friday, June 03, 2005

awesome dude

revenge of that good shit

I could sum up Devin the Dude’s vocal styling as Snoop’s reedy articulation and easy charm rolled with the storytelling precision and patented nonchalance of the old Kangol Krew but the chance to see him live at Rothko had the potential to reveal more secrets of his charisma. A show also has the potential to shatter an artists image by pulling back the curtain of the recording studio.

The Rothko crowd realized quickly… the Dude had bowls full of charisma to pass around. He literally puffed and passed with the front row. He simultaneously let a fan light his joint as he lit the mic. Devin blowed away any evidence of the hyper beats, over-the-top porn/camp and sexually aggressive posing presented moments before by the Spankrock crew.

Don’t get it twisted, pornography was still dominating the sound system but Devin brought his soft-spoken sex stories with a sly smile. Could anyone have anticipated a rapper with a voice that could only be described as ‘gentle’ ? As graphic as Devin gets, I wouldn’t call any of his freaky tales ‘threatening’ but I’ll concede to a smart lady’s assessment of the Dude’s raunch*if she presents it.

Devin strolled through some crowd pleasers ‘Fuck You’, ‘Boo Boo’n’, ‘Doobie Ashtray’ and ‘MoFaMe’ which showcased his vocal cutting/scratch… He would drop this ‘scratch’ throughout the set and it was one of his strongest techniques. Presenting himself as heavy lidded and languid in language Devin would bring in these precise ‘cuts’ to slice through the sleepy vibe.. if only for a moment. Another technique he demonstrated was a perfect-timing-rhyming apparatus… finishing rhymes just after the bar where you would swear there was no room to do so. Clearly, he’s perfected breath control… even while inhaling.

Right before the hilarious ‘Bust One Fo Ya’ (‘Ha Ha…’ ‘Hee Hee…’ ‘Ho Ho…’) Devin covered a song by another soft spoken artist. By adding a few lewd gestures during a straight James Taylor cover, Devin revealed JT’s pimp-hand...

Hey girls, gather round
Listen to what Im putting down
Hey babe, Im your handy man

Im not the kind to use a pencil or rule
Im handy with love and Im no fool
I fix broken hearts, I know that I truly can

If your broken heart should need repair
Then Im the man to see
I whisper sweet things, you tell all your friends
Theyll come runnin to me

Here is the main thing I want to say
Im busy 24 hours a day
I fix broken hearts, I know that I truly can

Come, come, come Yeah, yeah, yeah
Come, come, come Yeah, yeah, yeah
Theyll come runnin to me

Thats me Im your handy man

Devin’s set was waaay too short and inspired some grumbling but I look back on his hypnotic showstopping performance of ‘Anythang’ and immediately kill that noise. That unhurried groove was given so much room to breathe… flowing over a swaying crowd… the chorus hit home in a surprisingly profound way…

Anythang is plenty man and is better than nothin' at all

I thanked Matt Sonzola as he led Devin through the adoring crowd back towards a VIP loft (where Nas and Kelis supposedly chilled). HoustonSoReal and Oxy Cottontail have given me the best nights of music I’ve experienced in a long time. First Rapid Ric at Sway, then Devin at Rothko… and I hope I’m not blowing up Matt’s spot by mentioning a future visit by Paul Wall! And, as Catchdubs called it, this “TX/NYC exchange program” cannot be applauded enough.
Reign of the TX indeed.

*“the Dude’s raunch”… respect to SFJ’s better use of a bad pun