Millions of songs are produced and released daily, but every now and again, a song is released that embodies the epitome of dopeness, “What A Job,” written by Devin The Dude, Andre 3000 and Big Snoop Dogg explain the unique job of being successful hip-hop artists/personalities, as well as some of the emotional ups-and-downs that come with it. Devin kicks off the classic track asserting that he has the dopest job. Snoop plays the middle verse embodying classic Snoop and paying homage to his career choice. Andre 3K ends the record with one of the most introspective verses of all time about his career path. Each a legend in his own right, the artists team up to create a timeless sonic image that will forever reveal the reality of being a rap artist in these modern times. On the eve of the ten-year anniversary of the release of this record, we thought some critical analysis was in order.
Devin The Dude–an organic legend without the bells and whistles–begins the epic record with the hook explaining how music is as potent as the best weed or as intoxicating as the best spirit.
“Rolling up another Swisha.. dranking but with concentration…”
He also speaks directly to the pressure artists have to be “hot.” He ends the catchy hook explaining how strenuous the job is, detailing graveyard shift hours and how close loved ones can confuse your ambition. Oh, what a job, indeed. Oftentimes, being a rapper is deemed a fun career choice, yet Devin says in his first verse that rapping is more than fun; it’s downright therapeutic. However, he explains how countless nights in the studio and performing go unrewarded and rappers are forced to continue to promote their music for finance.
“Push it peddle it to the people…”
Often throughout Devin’s observation, he makes numerous references that music is like drugs. From the emotional connection that is attached to the music all the way to how the final product is packaged.
“This music is something more different than the weed and the brew.”
Also Devin makes sure to remind people that the music is spiritual, giving less credence to the medium music is disseminated in and more credence to all the people that aide in creating the music.
“This is for all the independents, a few major labels, the big studios…. on the mixing and mastering, puzzling and plastering the track together, on tapes, cds, wax, or whatever.”
Devin even quickly mentions the seedy underworld behind the music. No matter how bad an artist just wants to create, the hard truth of the world is everything costs, especially your favorite Snoop Dogg and/or Andre 3000 verses. Artists often have to surmount these great costs to get their thoughts to the world.
“Can’t forget about the production costs and all the hidden fees for another rhyme written.”
Devin says that regardless of the ills the of pursuing music creation to make a living, it is still a righteous cause and he will continue down that path. Devin set the tone of the song and effectively explained how important rap music is to his life and others.
Snoop Dogg comes up next, the elder statesmen on the song. Snoop has been known for his laid-back, witty flow and charismatic persona since the beginning of his career. Here, singing an ode to his profession, is the one of his best performances of his illustrious career. Snoop discusses the smoke-and -mirrors effect of the entertainment industry beginning his performance
“As easy as it looks to you, I make it look so easy…”
People watch Snoop smoke and C Walk and hang with pimps all while generating millions and millions of dollars. Though his marketing strategies may seem effortless, Snoop says that making it look easy is something he has perfected. In the next line he speaks to the impact his music has had on popular culture.
“With the music I be making; the impression I be leaving…”
Snoop understands that every song he releases will influence the future. A responsibility he doesn’t shy away from, but has stood up to over the years. Snoop says that although people may think or hope he will lose his popularity or go broke–like so many of his former colleagues–Snoop simply can’t see it ever happening. He is always looking forward and that has been a secret to his success. Snoop spits:
“Move on to the next phase and it’s amazing. The next generation of rapper Big Snoop Dogg raising.”
Snoop makes sure to boast his lengthy rap career and how he is still becoming an even bigger brand 15 years after his initial offering to the culture. Snoop’s verse is unique because, unlike Devin and Dre, Snoop doesn’t highlight any negative parts of being a rapper. The closest the west coast legend comes is saying that some people expect him to ruin his opportunity. Snoop makes it clear that he will continue making “hot” hip-hop music until he takes his place in Heaven. The Doggfather even implies that his verses and rhymes are on the same level as reverends’ sermons, as he speaks the truth.
“Check this Devin. Somebody said that real G’s go to Heaven. So I’mma keep spitting the truth on these fools like a reverend. Stay open like 7-11 that’s 24-7.”
Similar to Devin The Dude’s verse, Snoop also likens music to drugs. Interesting, because drugs, like music, can be addictive and potent. Also you can sell it by the album or by the single.
“I’m serving my rhymes like nickel and dimes. Plug it in, let it play and let me blow your mind.”
Snoop displays his ability and his perspective on this song and adds a much needed commercial layer to the record. This coupled with his velvety delivery helps boost the song to classic status.
Andre 3000 is the most elusive, successful lyricist known to hip-hop. Over the years he has continued to be extremely eccentric about touring, taking credit on big rap albums, and even in his attire. Dre 3000 is one of the few emcees that has sold diamond and still pops up for classic hip-hop moments, like ”What A Job.” Automatically, Dre comes out equating rappers to terrifying, mythical creatures and lyrics to telling scary stories in the middle of the night. This gives light to Dre 3K’s insight and how he views his music career, in a normal world.
“We work nights, we some vampires. Niggas gather round the beat like a campfire.”
These two lines foreshadow the story Dre will tell towards the end of his verse. Andre also explains how artist is affected by the shift in the industry that came in the mid 2000s, when streaming and downloading became the primary way to get new music. Dre details the logic that the fan has which ruins the overall product:
“You download it for free, we get charged back for it. I know you’re saying, they won’t know, they won’t miss it. Besides, I ain’t a thief, they won’t pay me a visit. So if I come to your job, take your corn on the cob and take a couple kernels off it, that would be alright with you. Hell no.”
Andre takes his verse and uses it to shine the light on serious problems facing the rap industry. Unlike Devin and Snoop, 3000 felt the need to explain the issues with living off of rap present day and how true MCs will continue to make the music because it moves their soul.
“But we just keep recording and it ain’t to get no condo…”
When 3000 explains the fulfillment he receives from real people around the world, we finally start to understand how meaningful this job is. Dre says that he does his music for the families who are progressing in life and use his catalog to get them through trying times in their lives. This is one of the most rare perspectives hip-hop has ever heard. Dre details a fan encounter where they asked to be immortalized in music and he does just that explaining their story.
“…And that he wouldn’t have made it if it wasn’t for your CD #9 and he standing with his baby mama KiKi and she crying…”
Andre 3000 masterfully captures the fans with the latter part of his verse. He solidifies why he is among the most underrated emcees in rap music. Dre says he doesn’t care about the Bentleys, Grammys, or beautiful women that come with rap success, but is moved by how he is affecting families and saving lives.
If you are a west coast rap fan, a down south rap fan, Outkast fan, or just a fan of hip-hop and you never heard this ballad, you have been missing out on one of the greatest moments in hip-hop. This moment was easy to miss, as there was never a music video created and it was never a single on national radio rotation list, despite its star power. As long as Snoop Dogg, Devin The Dude, and Andre 3000 are still breathing, hip-hop is very much so alive, and they love their job.
Oh, what a job this is!