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Devin The Dude Tackles Matters of the Heart on ‘Acoustic Levitation’ Album

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Coughee Brothaz Enterprise / EMPIRE

At a time when artists appear to be as concerned with reality shows as they are with delivering reality rap, Devin The Dude remains dedicated to servicing his fans with musings from the perspective of a middle-aged stoner. The rapper’s latest release, Acoustic Levitation, stays true to that formula, with stoner vibes, humorous recollections and moments of reflection coming into play throughout the album’s 14 selections.

“Can I be the one you can’t turn down and won’t say no,” Devin purrs on “Can I,” the album’s introductory cut. Powered by guitar riffs, heavy-handed kicks and snares, the track finds Devin courting a prospective lover and listing all of the benefits that being his significant other can bring, such as emotional support and guidance. Finding its footing out of the gate with “Can I,” Acoustic Levitation reaches an early crescendo with “Are You Goin’ My Way,” a standout offering on which Devin plays the role of a good Samaritan attempting to make a connection with a woman he’s decided to give a lift. “I’m offering a service like Uber/First ride’s free, I’ll spit some game to ya’,” Devin rhymes as he lays his mack down. Featuring singers Tony Mac, who turns in a stellar vocal performance on the hook, and Lisa Luv, who croons from the vantage point of the overworked single mother catching a ride, “Are You Goin’ My Way” ranks among the strongest tracks on Acoustic Levitation and exemplifies Devin at his best.

The album’s winning streak continues with “Please Pass That,” a hazy offering in the mold of previous toker-centric fare from Devin The Dude’s catalog, but hits a slight snag on “We High Right Now.” A reunion with his Odd Squad brethren Rob Quest and Jugg Mugg, “High Right Now” is potent in terms of verbiage, but is weighed down by its repetitive hook. However, Devin steers the ship back on course with Acoustic Levitation‘s title track, which the rapper uses as an opportunity to unpack his mental baggage. Lamenting his shortcomings and making sense of the signs of the times, Devin The Dude searches for peace of mind and clarity, while contrasting the present with the past, rapping, “Up out of here, but I’ll stay in touch/I used to joke and laugh, but now I don’t play as much/’Cause days are much colder, somewhat dimmer/I smoke and toke and hold on to the feelings I remember.”

Acoustic Levitation is largely comprised of material that is solemn and subdued. The album also contains pockets of upbeat offerings that showcase Devin’s comedic sensibilities and gifts as a storyteller. Houston meets Jamaica on “Tonight,” a mid-tempo, island-tinged party-starter, while “Apartment #8216″ finds Devin being lured to a remote location with the promise of relations, but ultimately turns out to be an ill-advised trek, with a sinister outcome.

“You’ve got food on yo’ table, you’ve got clothes on yo’ back/You’ve got all yo’ bills paid, why you wanna treat me like that,” Devin questions on “Due Yo Thang,” a scornful number from Acoustic Levitation that takes a fair-weather lover to task. Flipping the script on “Don’t Get Naked,” Devin turns the table on an old flame looking to rekindle the magic, before getting lustful on the hypnotic “You Know I Wantcha!” one of the more enticing soundscapes on the album.

Nearing his 20th year as a solo artist, Devin The Dude has been as reliable a lyricist as you could ask for, as well as one of the more underrated and unsung veterans over that span of time. Acoustic Levitation serves as a reminder of Devin’s standing as one of the more riveting artists in rap, and his ability to create albums that play to his strengths while balancing cohesion. His first long player since releasing One for the Road in 2013, Acoustic Levitation may be a classic example of an old dog relying on a few old tricks, but Devin executes them all with ease, making for yet another masterful effort from The Dude.

See New Music Releases for April 2017

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