Devin the Dude: Waiting to Inhale

Devin the Dude
Waiting to Inhale
Rap-a-Lot Records

I was so geeked about the Dude's newest platter that I cheated and popped it into my Discman on the bus ride home from the record store. The slow, syrupy Southern beats built for Lacvilles sounded sleepy and tinny in my headphones. On Waiting to Inhale, the Dude talks about girls sweating him too hard, smoke being passed, and sipping on a brew or three—familiar territory for his fans, but not exactly life-altering. Suddenly, I realized I was zoning out to a fresh batch of Devin songs: blasphemy!

Since coming up with Odd Squad 13 years ago, he's mellowed—but not so much that he wouldn't still drop the mic and take a piss in the crowd. Devin's more like Merle Haggard than any rapper you know. He's damn consistent (to the point of redundancy) and he can tell one hell of a story. But his newest release's redneck reprisal (featured on three skits) felt tired the first time through. Waiting suffers from beats that would fit in nicely on any late-night quiet storm or easy-listening play list, with guest appearances (Snoop and André 3000! Bun B and Lil' Wayne!) that are more enticing on paper than in practice. Still, the Houston elder statesman knows how to deliver euphoric slices of life as a man jus tryna live. It might take a combination of gin and juice and a few puffs to get really blown back by Waiting, an album that reflects an artist aging gracefully, less dynamic but more assured.