The Devil Is Dope

Album: A Dramatic Experience (1973)
Charted: 43
Play Video


  • The Dramatics' third studio album was supposed to be called The Devil Is Dope, named for the hit B-side to their single "Hey You! Get Off My Mountain," but the music industry's payola scandal in the US put the kibosh on that plan, according to the group's lead singer Ron Banks. He told Blues & Soul in 1974: "There was a scandal in the States about record companies paying payola in the form of drugs and so the company decided that it would be bad timing to call our album that so they changed it."
  • The song, written by the group's frequent producer/songwriter Tony Hester, warns against the dangers of drug use by likening the slippery slope of addiction to the Devil's insidious deeds. "Some call him Lucifer, but he hides his horns in many different forms, but still is Lucifer," the lyrics caution before claiming "the Devil is dope - out to get your soul!" Hester knew this all too well, as he was in the throes of his own addiction. Producer Don Davis, who signed the Dramatics to Stax Records, told Billboard: "Unfortunately, he was hooked early on, and his writing was seriously impaired once he got really afflicted."

    Hester also wrote the Dramatics' other anti-drug tune, "Beware of the Man With the Candy in His Hands."
  • The cover art depicts a grotesque horned creature, tame by today's standards but apparently considered scary stuff in the '70s. Says Banks: "Yes, the sleeve is pretty scary but it does say what we feel, and that is that drugs is a scary business. The whole thing is meant as a warning to kids because we hate to see them subjected to the corruption that narcotics always brings. It's a genuine feeling that we all have and my personal belief is that an individual should dominate himself and not allow himself to be dominated by any materialistic thing."
  • This begins with sinister laughter and the sound of crackling fire as the narrator finds himself in hell. The Dramatics also used atmospheric sound effects in their hit ballad "In The Rain."
  • "Hey You! Get Off My Mountain"/"The Devil Is Dope" was a #5 R&B hit.
  • This was used in the 2005 crime movie Carlito's Way: Rise To Power, starring Jay Hernandez and Mario Van Peebles.
  • This inspired Coolio's 1997 My Soul track "The Devil Is Dope," which samples elements of the song throughout.

Comments: 1

  • Vladimir Ledain from New York CityThe Dramatics were a big influence in my life. I will always cherish their music for all times. Truly a timeless masterpiece!
see more comments

Editor's Picks

Scott Gorham of Thin Lizzy and Black Star Riders

Scott Gorham of Thin Lizzy and Black Star RidersSongwriter Interviews

Writing with Phil Lynott, Scott saw their ill-fated frontman move to a darker place in his life and lyrics.

Joe Jackson

Joe JacksonSongwriter Interviews

Joe talks about the challenges of of making a Duke Ellington tribute album, and tells the stories behind some of his hits.

Cheerleaders In Music Videos

Cheerleaders In Music VideosSong Writing

It started with a bouncy MTV classic. Nirvana and MCR made them scary, then Gwen, Avril and Madonna put on the pom poms.

Jules Shear - "All Through The Night"

Jules Shear - "All Through The Night"They're Playing My Song

Shears does very little promotion, which has kept him secluded from the spotlight. What changed when Cyndi Lauper had a hit with his song? Not much, really.


MetallicaFact or Fiction

Beef with Bon Jovi? An unfortunate Spandex period? See if you can spot the true stories in this Metallica version of Fact or Fiction.

Jonathan Edwards - "Sunshine"

Jonathan Edwards - "Sunshine"They're Playing My Song

"How much does it cost? I'll buy it?" Another songwriter told Jonathan to change these lyrics. Good thing he ignored this advice.