David Banner Mississippi The Album ((TOP)) Full Album Zip
After debuting with the Odd Squad mid-decade, he'd become a somewhat reluctant solo star with 1998's The Dude. Now officially rechristened "Devin The Dude" by Scarface, he'd enjoyed some high profile successes: appearing on the hit single "Sex Faces" with 'Face, Too $hort and Tela; as well as guesting on "F**k You" from Dr. Dre's multiplatinum-selling 1999 album 2001. But even with superstar co-signs, Devin was adamant about remaining Devin. His sophomore album would still be the Texas rapper remaining true to himself, but there was definitely a bigger budget this time around.
David Banner Mississippi The Album Full Album Zip
Beyond smoking the finest California tree, Devin and Co. found themselves in a musical groove while working on his second album. And now, major names were coming through to work with him. Dr. Dre had gotten to know Devin The Dude after working on 2001, and The Doctor contributed the standout track "It's A Shame" to what was becoming Just Tryin' Ta Live. With Pooh Bear singing on the hook, the song was a track that Dre reportedly dreamt.
"They couldn't clear the sample," Devin says about the song. "He found that out. My manager Rico got in touch with him and...he just asked me to send the acapella mix out to him. In two or three days, he had a reference track. We were about to wrap up the album. There was only about two weeks or so; se didn't have much time, there wasn't a lot of time for production to happen. He did it quick and sent it back and I listened to it over the phone and I was like 'man, that's jamming, but where are the cuts?'"
Raphael Saadiq guests on the ode to relationships "Just A Man." Devin's skills as a crooner have always been evident, and his chemistry with the soulful singer-songwriter is formidable. The song is one of the most heartfelt moments on the album, as Devin gets introspective about infidelity while maintaining his ever-present sense of humor.
Mississippi's David Banner helms the album's title track, a song that aptly sums up the spirit of the album. The slow-rolling southern groove of "Just Tryin' To Live" is the appropriate album closer, as it sounds like Devin cruising off into the night, hazily rapping in his Lacville '79 and reflecting on the road that got him here. And expertly capping an album that would be one of his best.
Just Tryin' To Live avoids so many of the typical trappings of early 2000s rap; there is no preoccupation with flossing or dusting off enemies and haters. Devin instead opts for endlessly relatable stories about weed, sex and his boys; all delivered with more insight and observational brilliance than many, more "serious" albums from Hip-Hop's most acclaimed. In opting for everymanism, Devin The Dude stood out amongst the crowd.
...To Live didn't become a huge commercial seller, but it cemented Devin The Dude as one of the best album-makers in Hip-Hop. And, in recording with some titanic talents, it gave Devin a blueprint for how to push himself as an artist.
"The final product matched exactly what I wanted," he says. "I didn't want it to blow up and be real big. I didn't want to be some famous celebrity guy. I just wanted to remain Devin. That's it. I didn't even want to call myself 'The Dude.' Face gave me that name because of the album! The album came out exactly how I wanted it to because I had so much help. Big names and friends I grew up with."