Devin the Dude makes the best album list of 1998

Photo by Andrew Dansby

rapper Devin the DudeShane Nash

There are pleasant surprises and then there are Pitchfork’s 50 Best 50 Albums of 1998, celebrating recordings that are turning 20 this year. The usual suspects from the indie / alterna / electro worlds are all present: OutKast, Beck, Cat Power, Lauryn Hill, PJ Harvey, Elliott Smith, Neutral Milk Hotel.

Perhaps the biggest surprise is the very first recording that appears on the list. At # 50, sitting on the toilet, smoking a joint, reading the “Houston Chronic” is Devin the Dude on the signature cover art of his album “The Dude”.

Guess the guy "The guy"

“The Guy” from Devin the Dude

“It’s hard for rap to seem timeless,” writes Matthew Schnipper.

Devin’s solution? “Looking like a muppet with a cold, Houston-based Devin raps about his devotion to marijuana and watching the world go by.”

Over a fifth of the list consisted of rap albums, but Devin was by far the most underground of them on a list that included names like Jay-Z and DMX. It probably won’t change his fortune significantly. But it’s nice to know that someone over there was listening.

And that was pretty much the only Houston album on the list. There was no Beyonce record – in fact, 1998 saw the release of Destiny’s Child’s debut album. The nearest town to another entry was “Car Wheels on a Gravel Road”, by Lucinda Williams, who lived in Houston at times in the 1980s.

About Elizabeth J. Swartz

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