Houston-based Devin the Dude (born in St. Petersburg) sounds relatively polished on his most recent disc. Could be because his 15-year contract with heavy-hitting Houston label, Rap-A-Lot, expired and chose not to renew. Thankfully N.Y.-based Razor & Tie picked him up. Landing Gear serves up Devin’s typically laid-back (read: stoned) flow and vocal harmonies over the top of very solid funk grooves, poppy arrangements, impressive synth melodies and featuring a talented stable of guest vocalists and MCs. The lyrics tend to swing from sophomoric bedroom dialogue on the standout track “Let Me Know it’s Real” to stoner banter about weed and coffee. Sometimes this works to keep things fresh; mostly it feels like your partner keeps cracking jokes during foreplay. Another highlight is “El Grande Nalgas” a half-sung, half-Spanish track whose title translated means “The Big Butt.” Snoop Dogg makes a highly hyped guest appearance on one track, but considering Devin’s strengths, it’s more anti-climactic than a show-stealer.
*** (3/5 stars) - Joran Oppelt