Today, I'm reviewing C-Mob's newest album, The Devil in Dickies, which I'd promised to him to review after its release on April 27th, 2018, AKA the day the world got to see the Marvel Cinematic Universe cut in exactly half (Avengers: Infinity War). For two reasons, one obvious, the other not so much, this date is important to C-Mob. Like myself, he's an avid Marvel movie buff, and we have many times discussed the merits of the united universe created by Kevin Feige and Disney over the last ten years. I digress. I've been pushing this review aside to work on my own art, and was sidelined by some unhealthy working situations. Anyway, today, the review lives and breathes.
If you have Spotify, click here to stream the album as you read my review and perspective of this fantastic piece of musical art. And, please feel free to share your opinion on social media and in the comments section below!
C-Mob is one hell of a man. I refer to C-Mob as Chris Doehla, and to Chris Doehla as C-Mob. If you're new to his music, or simply don't know, Chris Doehla and C-Mob are the same person in reality. I'll discuss his music and use both names interchangeably below. He has something like seventy-three amazing kids and is the eldest of nine, a repo man, a husband, a father figure to his siblings, an avid gym rat, an outspoken social media giant, and somehow still finds time to make music that speaks to the daily life of much of human existence. He's got these ridiculously long fingernails, too, which are perfectly formed, and color me jealous in many ways and on many fronts. Let's get into the album!
The album cover plays on the duality of man. It speaks directly to the second track, which I cover intimately below. I love the composition of the artwork itself, too. It's a little German Expressionism, which gets my creative juices moving in my brain when I see a solid representation of it in media. It's clear C-Mob is staring at the devil in "himself", and I'm curious to see how much the cover speaks to the story being told in the album. This is my first pass through the album, and as a long-time fan, I know it'll be excellent. The angles in the C-Mob logo are reflected back into the mirror, which is clearly definable in the foreground. You can see the top right side of the mirror he's peering into at the top right of the cover itself.
Where the artwork gets interesting to me is when you peer into the inner portion of the artwork, inside the mirror, or rather the area in which the picture was taken. The angular slats of wood and support trusses run parallel to the wood in the foreground behind the mirror. All of this is important to me as I'm viewing it as a piece of artwork without music because the space in which C-Mob is peering into the mirror folds in on itself. I can't think this was made by accident. To some degree, almost completely, I believe it was made to show the paradoxical nature of the human psyche. It's almost as if the room is his own head, and as he looks into the mirror, he sees the same features.
Look, I'm getting very "arthouse cinema" with my answer, and I'm not even sure I'm quantifying it in a way that has translated. What I think I see is a man staring at his reflection, in a room that is unending, though completely walled off. It reminds me of the infinity-mirror trick of placing mirrors facing each other and then standing between them, seeing your reflection for as far as the refraction allows. Suffice to say, this is probably my favorite album cover of his work, just simply because it creates more questions than answers.
Let's get into the album!
Track 1 - The Knock - "You’ve been busting your ass, and you got some big blessings in store for you."
The concept that C-Mob paints here is a unique one to me, the notion that God and the devil check each other when someone's life looks like it's about to spin into an upward trajectory. I can't say I believe this as an individual, but I won't be casting any doubt from my personal beliefs throughout this review. I'm strictly judging this story as C-Mob tells me and under the beliefs he wants me to focus on through the narrative. The conversation with the devil is poignant. It took me a moment to get into the voice modulating, but I'm in it. Let's jump into the first musical track on the album. "Fuck... speak of the devil!"
Track 2 - Speak of the Devil - "There's a man in my room."
Well, shit. I know this feeling fairly well. It's a wonderful trope in horror film, and I've also felt this exact situation as a child. The opening of this track speaks to very specific situations I've been in as a young guy with a touch of divinity. Though I never experienced voices, I have experienced tangibles in the form of hands reaching up toward my bed from areas of my room I couldn't see, and loud noises and breathing beside me. I even had a pillow yanked out from under my head as I laid staring at a wall, watching it drag itself to the ceiling without any regard to physics, and then hurl itself across the room. I never told anyone for fear of them isolating me by thinking I was crazy. Now, as an adult and professional storyteller, those stories can only benefit me.
I've seen and been in some shit in my lifetime. Speak of the Devil reminds me of my own hauntings. The notion the devil is available to Little Chris any time is something I've always felt in my own heart. I know, at any moment, the devil would love to help me out, just so he could ask for a return favor later. The risk never outweighed the reward, however. That last sentence was foreshadowing, just so you either get it because you understand what it's from, or you've got a nice nod back in your future if you're listening to this album for the first time, as well. The best part of this song is realizing this Chris doesn't want to make any deals yet. I'f I'm viewing as a discerning audience, I'll say now I believe this will become part of the larger arc of this story, Chris' lack of desire to cut a deal.
Track 3 - The Offer - "I want you to be one of the devils that roams the earth..."
Damn, he's going a different direction than I expected. So, Chris gets to warp the world for 24 hours as one of the devil's henchmen. This could get messy for him with that type of responsibility and power. Also, the deal could be loaded with asterisks, plenty of ways for the devil to get what he wants and break his promise to Chris.
Track 4 - Choice - "I'm tryin' to make the right choice..."
So, this song, in my opinion, is about the justification process of making morally challenging decisions that'll benefit one at the expense of another. I've been in this position before. And, I'm willing to bet you have, too. The hook of the song gives away the notion of justifying bad choices for personal gain. I love he's using backward recordings of what the devil's saying. In my second pass through the album I'll make provisions to listen to the backward messages and see how on or off the mark I am with the story being told, and if there are clues to what the devil's true purpose for propositioning Chris is. Also, I realize some of this scenario has a slight reflection on Charlie Daniels Band's famous song, Devil Went Down to Georgia. The concept is similar, but we find out with the confines of that song that Johnny refuses the devil's advances by beating him in a wicked fiddle-playing face-off. That's just a small similarity I'm picking up on, so take it with a grain of salt.
Track 5 - The Deal - "So, have you made your choice?"
Chris is trying to extrapolate from the devil exactly what the proposition entails. The devil posits all Chris needs to do to gain his devilish power is to "tap into the darkest parts of your imagination", which lends itself a little to what I'd proposed about the duality of man. If a man can harness his darkest ideas, he can become a devil. If he chooses to focus on the positives, he becomes an angel. C-Mob is putting forth the notion that man creates his own demons, though I am expecting the supernatural to make its presence known, as well. I don't immediately believe this is an "all in your head" scenario, though the mindfulness of C-Mob's approach grounds the idea that we are our own worst enemies due to the choices we make as individuals. Chris says "yes" to the devil's proposition to be one of his devils for a day.
Track 6 - Devilry (feat. Twisted Insane) - "Have you ever danced with the devil... in the pale moonlight, playing in the meadow"
Let me make a bold claim: This is one of C-Mob's hardest intro lines ever. Intro lines are one of very few ways I rate an emcee on hooking me. Maybe it's the fact he's quoting Jack Nicholson's "Joker" from Tim Burton's Batman, maybe it's the following line referencing Pinocchio. I'm not sure, but the stepladder beat paired with that opening bar has instant replay value. As of this writing, I've started the song over five times just to hear this drop. This song gave me permanent Thizz Face. Six times, now...
The feature artist, Twisted Insane, is so perfect. I will be perfectly candid, and I mean zero disrespect by saying this. Twisted Insane's lyrics are always so fast, they make me feel dumb for not being able to understand him. Spare me from scrutiny here. I'm saying he's so talented and fast that I can't understand him. I would give a few of my nuts to rap like him. Seven times. This song has a buffet of references, including one I just recently used in a short film I co-wrote and directed. "We have such sights to show you" is muttered by Pinhead in Clive Barker's Hellraiser. C-Mob says it here, and a character in my movie says it to a victim of his. How beautiful is that? The Carnage and Venom reference works in two fields: those that read Spider-Man comics, and those that know in reality venom and carnage are often symbiotic relationships inside poisonous people. Hell, yeah, I'm acknowledging my use of "symbiotic". "It goes up" is a popular turn-of-phrase in the Strange Music, Inc. camp, and don't think for a second I missed it, C-Mob! Eight...
Jumping back into the narrative, this is the entry point for what I expect will be the main crux of the story, Chris' struggles with his newfound power. This is his flex point where he shows off what the devil gave to him. Mother fuck, this song is so hard! I've had to stop a few times to refocus on what I'm writing because I start to zone out and see visuals (it's what my mind does with most music). Lastly, the devilry Chris is flexing in this song comes from within! It's been inside of him since he was a baby. The people he's vied for their attention have ignored him long enough, he's no longer trying to be good for the attention of others. He's letting himself into his own inner darkness. This is amazing. Nine. I am forcing myself to move on. I could live inside Devilry.
Track 7 - Caution (feat. C-Ray, Trizz, and Gonzoe) - "I can hit a fella quite fast, been a monster from the jump like Killa Mike's past. And, I pledge allegiance to the grind, independently without a need that I get signed"
The quoted verse above is amazing because it's a dual reference to Killer Mike, the co-emcee of Run the Jewels. In 2003, Killer Mike dropped his debut album Monster and followed it up in 2006 with I Pledge Allegiance to the Grind. This is a posse cut full of posturing. I love it. C-Ray's voice is so beautiful, He borders somewhere between Kokane and Nate Dogg, but is clearly his own artist. The peaks in his voice, I think, are what make me admire his voice so much. I haven't heard a Gonzoe feature in years, likely since U.G.A. back in the early 2000's. Call it a simple mistake, as I've always loved his voice and wordplay. The hook is one of the best I've heard in a while, though I'm more critical toward hooks than lyricism. I see it as what it's for: a hook to keep me listening. Trizz is always dope on tracks! He's got this calm, specific delivery that is almost scary by how procedural it comes off to me. I see C-Ray's Star Wars reference and I feel it hard.
Track 8 - Boogeyman - "Do you really think your covers'll save you?"
A horrorcore track! Okay, I see you! I mean, a few C-Mob tracks have bordered on horrocore, but this one goes right for the spooky stuff and maintains. The talk of being haunted by a boogeyman type, trying to medicate it out of your life, lack of sleep, terror-inducing paranoia is something I can relate to in many ways. As I mentioned above early in this article, I've been visited/tormented by all kinds of sights unexplained. Once, a woman walked across my kitchen wearing a Victorian gown while I was home alone. Think: that poofy ball gown Belle wears in Beauty & the Beast, only white instead of yellow.
I watched her disappear into ephemera. I felt the panic of being alone in my house, only to irrationally being accompanied by something unexplained. I woke up one night without the ability to move my body and felt the devil himself staring at me from the corner of my room. I had what's called sleep paralysis, scientifically, but I know the devil when I feel him. That's happened twice to me. I had a dream so vivid, I came out of my sleep, stood straight up from prone, and flew into my kitchen to see if the room had been ransacked like I'd seen it in my dream. I was still hearing the sounds of people destroying my living room while I ran across my clean apartment, only to find that nothing had been moved. I've. Seen. Some. Shit.
Track 9 - The News - "This is Michael Asmodai reporting live for channel 67 News."
Chris' news reporter voice I could get use to. It's just so good. "Asmodai" is a demon in the study of demonology. That's a clever reference! He actually kills the husband of a woman he loves each time she marries someone (you'd figure she'd just stop marrying dudes), but I don't think this story really pertains to that version of the demon. Racist and crooked politicians are in focus here. A single suspect has not been identified, but has been noted as tall, athletic, and wearing black clothes. (Look! A reference to the cover art!)
It's the devil! Flint, Michigan takes focus politically, here, positing the "Devil in Dickies" has dispatched with the assholes who allowed people to consume poisonous water for years. So, this is the first emergence of the album title character. This skit "starts" the narrative of the Devil in Dickies with the notion that the public at large named him and he's trending on social media. I'd actually love for C-Mob's work to go viral and trend. Nonetheless, we shall persevere, we C-Mobian's... C-Mobsters?
Track 10 - Do What I Do (feat. JL & King Iso) - "I am askew with my views and I'm losing my screws. They say it's the Devil's influence and I am assuming it's true"
The track begins with a soft vibe, but when the chorus drops, it's clear this is another track that features a skewed point of view: the devil's. So, Chris is blaming the devil for his perception of the world, for the wrongs he's committed, for possessing him when he's without a life to live.
In Chris' verse, there are a number of references I picked up on that make me excited. "Out of my mind, it's a masterpiece" is a reference to the last C-Mob album, 2014's Masterpiece of Mind, a reference that diehard fans should immediately spot. One overall reference plays a little subtle, and could be missed. Chris' verse plays on the notion that "idle hands do the devil's work", meaning Chris is most dangerous when he lacks focus and a specific purpose.
"Help me I think I need to find a Bible
It's imperative for my survival
The way that I spend my time is vital cause the Devil takes over when my mind is idle
He's been making decisions, and giving me visions
I don't know what it is, I can't stay alone
The Devil's taking control of me, he's making me colder and he sits on my shoulder with a megaphone"
This verse, to me, shows that Chris knows his most dangerous thoughts come when his vision is inconsistent. I think we've all felt this feeling of stirring when we are stagnant. I know I've done some stupid things out of my own boredom, just seeing what kind of response I can get out of myself and the world.
And then, of course, this beautiful reference to the classic horror film, The Exorcist:
"Better hope that the power of Christ compels"
King Iso's verse is about being brain sick. (Too soon? ...I'm sorry.) Iso claims in his verse he and God are now professional enemies. I like to take this as a concept rather than an outright declaration of how he feels as a person since he's devout in his faith to God. But, I know I love God and the two of us aren't speaking right now, so there's also a chance Iso is speaking from his heart and not just creating a scenario for a devil-themed song. I couldn't imagine listening to this album and getting into a devilish mindset. So far, none of the material here really showcases how cool it would be to let the devil in. There's something brewing in the story, I feel, that will ring true to how dangerous this territory is for people who have had a belief in God in the past. We shall see.
JL's verse comes off to me as if he's trying to find a way from losing himself to the devil, which is an interesting contrast to the two previous verses that posit the devil's already in Chris and Iso.
"I've been digging through the book because I heard it's what it took, been looking everywhere 'could look to find answers.
If the Devil could influence a third of the angels who were in heaven with him how good are my chances?
I've perfected my dances in the pale light of the moon, can only assume my antics
All the results are freedom that Father grants us, the fruit that never falls too far from where the branch is."
I can't shake the feeling these verses are showing the dichotomy between devotion to Christ and slipping away from that due to choosing the wrong actions. The dancing metaphor here makes me see enchantments in a fire surrounded by cloaked figures. It's likely from all the films I watch, but it seems to me JL's trying to tell himself to get back into The Bible to find the answers to the darkness ruminating inside of his heart. I love that I don't know if this is what he means, and I am glad to speculate further. So, if any of the verse theories I present here stand in contrast to what you believe they mean, let me know!
Track 11 - I've Been Told - "Okay, right on. I've always wanted to talk to God. I got a lot of questions I'd like to ask him."
Get in line, C-Mob! Not that I haven't taken this concept seriously. I think the writing above shows I'm fully invested in this. But, this conversation and the layering of God's relationship to the devil, and, in proxy to Chris, is really well thought out. I feel like the bulk of the idea of this story comes from this conversation. It's deep and heady without being too mystical. It's fantasy and a bit or reality, and I like that. Also, given the ending of the skit, I think the next song is a sex song?
Track 12 - Dance with the Devil - "Never leave her linens dry, you should see her inner thighs"
A sex song! Interestingly, the devil makes a surprise back-tracking vocal appearance in this song. Since this song is more specifically aimed at SOMEONE rather than to an audience like previous tracks, it lends to the psychology of the devil speaking "with" Chris as he approaches a particular woman who caught his eye. I love the psychological play in using a back track as an accompaniment. I've heard DMX use a similar technique on his numerous Damien tracks, which are also about a devil whispering in the ear of a good man. Though, Damien is an actual stand-alone character in those stories and not specifically X and the devil whispering through him. That demon manifests as a voice inside his conscience, while Chris' devil is a physical one who also has mystical properties in that he can talk "through" Chris as Chris talks to others. I hope you're not lost. That was a bit heady.
I've got to split some hairs for a second here. In Dance with the Devil, the Devil in Dickies states:
"I walk with a limp so you know what I'm hung like"
Upon first inspection, fans of mainstream hip-hop should recognize this as a nod toward a familiar line by rapper Juvenile on the track Set it Off:
"I walk with a limp, cuz my nuts heavy"
We could stop there and call it a solid reference. Done deal... but, I won't because the context isn't quite right. You see, if you're "hung like" something, it's in reference to the phallus, or in street terms, the penis. "Thank God I'm not hung like a bear," comes to mind. Bonus points to anyone who knows who said that. In Kutt Calhoun's track Walk with a Limp, Strange Music, Inc.'s Krizz Kaliko completes the hook by saying:
"I walk with a limp cuz my dick's heavy, heeeeeeyyyyy!"
Krizz is paying homage to the line by Juvenile as Juve's track released in 2001 with Kutt's coming out in 2004. You'd have to be intimately familiar with Kansas City's rap scene, and Kutt's first album on Strange Music, B.L.E.V.E., to even know that song and reference exists. So, with all this pontificating about Chris mentioning his dick in a song, I stand firmly (heh) in the belief that the reference Chris is making is from the classic Kutt Calhoun track, rather than the more generally popular Juvenile cut.
This song is intimately descriptive, as well. Oh, indeed.
Track 13 - Immoral Fantasy (feat. NeAnne aka) - "They say Hell has no fury like a woman’s scorned. So I let her ride my face then fuck herself on my horns."
That is certainly a visual that will not be leaving my head for a while. So, is it just a typical "missionary" style horn riding, or does she incorporate spins, too? I would imagine, if the horns are curved, spinning might be out of the question. She'd likely not want her lady-insides scratched to hell like a cat toy after doing a little light nipping.
NeAnni's voice is amazing. I'm glad the track is structured in a way that kept her chorus tucked into the middle. It was a beautiful surprise to hear the silk and smoke of her voice singing one of the best hooks on the album.
I'll just go ahead and say these songs aren't really for me. These tracks are for women, or people who are attracted to C-Mob sexually. I dig the vibe, though. It's not that I don't care for the song. I just don't adapt to it intimately like I do with tracks about other relatable emotions. Although, I do understand this sexual lust as part of the devil's trickery. So, please note that I understand the context of sex songs within this narrative.
I feel C-Mob missed a blatantly called-for opportunity by not adding "I'm fifty shades of fucked up" somewhere after he referenced the book Fifty Shades of Grey. Jesus, what an awful movie. I had to watch it while working for my college since I was a projectionist and audiovisual guy. I laughed so hard when Christian Grey said that I had to stick my head under the sound board to keep from making a scene.
Track 14 - The Revelation - "What the fuck happened while you were gone today, bro? This ain't you!"
This mother fucker, C-Mob... He's over here like Preacher Jesse Custer, using the word of the devil (Jesse used the word of God) to get people to sell dope and kill his wife (Jesse did far less awful things, like making a guy rip off his own dick and fuck himelf with it, and another to count the grains of sand on a beach). This scandalous mother fucker just let the devil do the talking!
See, kids, this is why you don't let the devil into your life! I feel like this is the turning point for the Chris character. I'm not sure, though, because I know the next song fairly well. The context of the next track could be being told from the perspective of the friend in this skit, or from Chris' perspective, trying to turn the devil away after foolishly taking his offer. We'll find out, likely in the next skit or song, which person's perspective I'd Rather Not is being told from.
Track 15 - I'd Rather Not - "If the risk outweighs the reward, then fuck it, I'd rather not"
Click the underlined song title above to watch C-Mob's music video for I'd Rather Not! So, having heard this song months ago, I'll say the context is totally fresh now that I'm this far into the album. My original perception was Chris teaching us how to be above the influence of stupidity, the fleshy stuff we get our hopes wrapped up in like money and possessions. Now, this song has an immense impact on the overall narrative. This is C-Mob addressing the audience, rather than in character as I'd proposed earlier, as a cautionary tale, a Thin Blue Line look at what "could be" if his audience chooses that lifestyle. C-Mob himself is telling his audience to weigh their understanding of the bad things they might be considering, to see how futile it really is in the larger plot of their life, and offer them the notion to simply walk away. I love this track so much.
Fun side note, the album title is hidden in the music video, and try as much as C-Mob could to give me hints so I'd guess correctly where he'd hidden the title "The Devil in Dickies", I couldn't see it. One of his other fans finally guessed it, though I'd made a declaration that I'd keep it a secret if I did finally guess. Where the title was found was so simple... once I'd figured out the context in which to look. I felt dumb as hell for not finding it. Maybe, you can find it better than I did?! Watch the video and let me know if you found out where "The Devil in Dickies" title features in the video! Think outside the letters!
Track 16 - The Conflict - "Feel like I'm losin' myself right now."
Short, and to the point! Chris is going to drown himself in alcohol, hopefully remedying all of his problems! This works every time!
Track 17 - I Need a Drink (feat. C-Ray & Joey Cool) - "Protect me from the evil coming late in the night trying to put me in an early grave and I fight"
C-Mob's verse seems like therapy, but drinking to forget is a common trope in the story of "Alcoholism as a Coping Mechanism". I know this person well, as in my life previous I was a man enraptured by the power of the bottle. Somewhere in my life, I turned to the taste of alcohol as a high-end product, rather than the feeling it gives me when I've consumed "just enough" to be my desired drunkenness, and I thankfully arose from a pit in which I could have easily never escaped. I feel for Chris in his verse because he's so very much me in my times of despair. Violent-leaning, dependent, scared, and confused was who I was for a time.
I feel this track has as much potential to be about C-Mob's reality as much as it is a portion of the album's narrative. It's interesting to me how the narrative line has blurred a little since I'd Rather Not. I don't know if I'm watching a narrative unfold, or hearing recollections from Chris' past brought into the form of his music. I think both, honestly.
C-ray's verse is about his girlfriend(wife?), the political bullshit of corporate organizations(music labels, here), and fake friends. I can relate to all of these scenarios, some now, some past. The common thread of the track is of course drinking to mask the pain and insecurities of life. I'll make a point not to say I can relate to this track again, but know I do.
Joey's verse is interesting because it name-drops much in the way The Game became popular/infamous for, but in the context of drinking as a coping mechanism, Joey talks about how drinking blurs his perception of reality, how he'll be in one city, and another, etc. and all he's really doing is getting drunk. His verse touches on the notion that "enough" is not "enough" to those seeking the bottle to numb them. He talks a bit about fame in the line regarding him having a bottle of Remy in his car but never having to open it. The context is he's famous enough people in clubs buy his drinks, so he doesn't have to drink his own supply. It's clear he's not adjusting to his newly established fame.
For context, he was just signed to Tech N9ne's KC-based label Strange Music, and released an album not long after this album dropped. Check it out HERE. I think much of Joey's verse pertains to the fame and jet-setting that comes with flying across the U.S. when you go from a local talent to a nationwide talent with a label berth and awareness across the entire world. I firmly believe this verse is about coping with adjustment.
Track 18 - Drown My Demons - "Maybe this liquor is the real demon?"
I hear tracks 17 & 18 as the same song, two ends of the same story. Where I posited Chris' lifestyle in track 17 could be very dangerous if he believed in the bottle's power to cure his life's issues, Drown My Demons reminds us all exactly how swallowing liquid courage doesn't end up doing us much good as individuals. We have to face our problems in a sober manner.
I love how the end of I Need a Drink slows the beat, kind of a nod to the Houston-Slab-Rider, DJ Screw, DJ Michael "5000" Watts, DJ Loon chopped & screwed style. Furthermore, I love how both songs press the emotional seriousness of drinking onto the audience, rather than paralleling alcoholism and drinking with club-going. Party anthems are great for getting people to vibe out collectively, but I believe they're a dangerous narrative to susceptible minds. I appreciate C-Mob a lot for making these two songs about the perils of drinking rather than the fastball lifestyle they're so often made out to be.
Chris asks God for help in this verse, turning this narrative around toward, hopefully, a more positive outcome. Let me be clear in stating I'm fine with this narrative winding down with Chris living in his own hell, though I don't want that as a consumer. I don't think that's where this narrative is going, though. The "arthouse" guy in me loves a narrative that doesn't feed me what I want. But, I want to see album-Chris survive this and redeem himself for his foolish actions.
Note that this line in the verse is the first time the narrative devil turns toward Chris and influences him:
"Take another shot, take another shot, drink until we go away and the trouble stops"
Also, the Star Wars reference was a hitter!
Track 19 - Broken - "Fighting satan, he knows he's been my captor."
The music video for Broken is embedded in the song title above! Life seems to have gotten much worse for Chris since he let the devil inside. One of C-Mob's greatest strengths is how his range is constantly surprising and expansive, both in his technical approach and his emotionality. This song hurts me FOR Chris. He makes flow-switching seem fairly easy, which it is not.
He makes coupling words in a rhyme about pain seem like anyone can do it, and I propose that many can't to the effect that he has with his words. He took time to write the second-longest song on the album about being emotionally shattered, leaving yourself in pieces. I think this song speaks to Chris Doehla's personal character more than any track on the album. That's not to take away any of the work he's done to make this album what it is: a classic. I'm saying I weigh the content of people's character more than anything. I'm so thankful Chris had the courage to create this song.
At the end, Chris explains he believes the way to make it out of the storm, you first have to be in it. I feel this so hard. I'm of the mind I'm currently in a storm, myself.
Track 20 - The Best Thing for You - "Only a few hours 'til I need your final decision..."
I fucking hate the devil! Scandalous mother fucker! So, Chris is hung over, not feeling himself too strongly, and the devil comes in to remind him of both the proposition, and to remind Chris that if he doesn't take the devil's deal, Chris will never become a famous rap artist. The main character drive for Chris is fully realized in this skit. Chris has been doing these awful things in the hope he may enjoy what the devil offers, just so he can rationalize taking the deal for sake of his potential career. Chris parallel's the devil's deal as the devil has said it is to happen: Chris' only option to make it big is to be the devil's minion.
While this isn't true, I don't believe, since people like Chris Pratt exists, the old wive's tale that you must sell your soul to gain all the riches and glory you desire rings true in this narrative.
Track 21 - In Vain - "Do I do it all in vain?"
Chris breaks the fourth wall and gives the audience the expository information required to process the song. He questions his motives by looking back on the life he has to led in order to be independently artistic. It's an interesting choice, and his talking directly to us puts a button on the proposition the devil made, putting into focus what will happen, yet again, if Chris doesn't take the deal. If he doesn't take the deal for fame, of course the bills will come due, the children will need to be fed, and life will go on as a struggling man in the workforce.
"Satan wants me to sell him my soul, in exchange for the fame I keep telling him no.
He said I might as well get the dough, I got a hell of a flow, but I'm incomplete like Bell and DeVoe.
He said he'll give me the fortune and fame I deserve from over the course of the game.
I will over take like the sorcerer Strange but then in the end I'll be forced into flames.
Fuck that I'mma earn it in on my own I don't need handouts man this my shit.
I'm looking forward to the day I can walk into work and then be like, "Bitch I quit".
I don't need this job no more I can provide for my family with my music.
I think back about the question when I would lose it?"
So, we have our answer! Or, do we? We're finally coming to the end of this handsome narrative. A couple notes before we move on. The Bell and DeVoe line is super clever. The context of being incomplete is so fun if you know Bell, Biv, DeVoe are an RnB group that had their popularity spike in the 80's. Without Biv, Bell and DeVoe aren't a complete set. In this heavy song, I got a good laugh at that reference, and it'll be one I carry with me after I've finished. It didn't pull me out of the song, however. I felt it was a perfect addition.
I'd be a dead man if I didn't point out the Marvel Comics Doctor Strange reference, as well. I'm so happy to hear the multitude of nerdy references in The Devil in Dickies. I identify with and appreciate each of them.
Track 22 - The Decision - "I also got light in me, and I'd rather focus on that."
Brrrrroooooooooooo! You did it! You told the devil to go fuck himself with a cold tire iron! I'm proud of you! Hell, yeah! No... Heaven, yeah! The buildup to his decision had me questioning where he'd fall in the devil's plan. It looks like the devil's gotta find him some sucker to fall for that shit because Chris ain't that dude!
Track 23 - Elevate - "I been living at the bottom of the barrel I been grinding for a long time, building up my money and my muscle life's a struggle but I keep a strong hustle and a strong mind"
This beat is dreamy. It's about that cloud-livin' life. I feel this so hard. There's been a lot of darkness on this album, with the finish being a song about blessings. This song finishes out an emotionally challenging album with a glimmer of good. Blessings to you, C-Mob. In my perception, this song says "I can handle the bullshit the world slings on me. I can handle all the hardships, if it means I'm doing the right thing for myself and the people around me". This song is a little light at the end of a dark tunnel.
Track 24 - Very Well Then - "Yes, he's ready for his blessing."
Let's see the blessing then, God! Get with the times, if you really feel that way! I love the implication that receiving a blessing means turning down the devil's tricks. It always feels like I've turned away from the devil when I receive a big blessing, so the high-concept that God and the devil work to assess the blessing certainly feels like my own reality. I've never processed my blessings as coming from such a setup. This album drives home the notion resisting the devil's charm leads to big blessings.
In conclusion, I give my gratitude to Chris "C-Mob" Doehla for not only creating this concept album, but finishing it and distributing in every way he can. Listening to this album on Spotify cost him in some way, due to how Spotify pays artists for featuring their albums on the platform. Chris had to make a decision, a weighted decision, at that, to see to it as many people could get his album as possible and risk losing money on bought copies of the CD. I'm so grateful to have been able to spend my time inside the mind of album-Chris, The Devil in Dickies, and Chris Doehla himself.
Today is July 31st, 2018, Chris Doehla's birthday. Happy birthday to you, brother. I stand with you in unison as believing in the blessing you're going to receive in life. I look up to you as a person, as an energy, and as a public figure. You are a light in the darkness, and a guide to those who seek the light. You are a blessing to so many people, myself included.