The Devil Is Dope

Album: A Dramatic Experience (1973)
Charted: 43

Songfacts®:

  • 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.

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