July 6, 2003

D.O.C., The

The D.O.C.

The D.O.C. has been in the rap game since the mid-1980s, and is an undeniable pioneer, instrumental in the development of the genre. He penned rhymes for all of the N.W.A. records, both Chronics, and indispensable debuts from Eazy-E and Snoop. With his classic solo album, 1989’s No One Can Do It Better, The D.O.C. went from a mostly behind-the-scenes ghostwriter to an explosive emcee on the cusp of superstar status. Unfortunately, fate had different plans. Shortly after the release, a severe car wreck crushed his larynx, seemingly ending his shine on the mic for good. But he refused to give up. After over a decade of extreme ups and downs, The D.O.C. is back with a new record, his own label, and a crew of hungry emcees in tow.

The D.O.C.’s storied career begins in West Dallas, as a member of the Fila Fresh Crew (featured on the NWA And The Posse record). “It was just a kid that I grew up with in the projects and shit. His name was Kurtis, Fresh K. It all got started as just neighborhood shit, and then we got a gig to do a commercial on a local TV station down there. This DJ was in radio down there, he had a mix-show, and we all got together and formed a little group. And it turned out that this guy and Dr. Dre used to be in sort of a DJ group. The guy had just moved down from California, and Dre came to visit the guy, I guess DJ at one of his parties and shit, and that’s how we hooked up.”

It’s hard to describe in words the impact of The D.O.C.’s debut. Like Straight Outta Compton, it’s exceptionally funky production and intricate lyricism won fans on both coasts, but unlike Compton, it was more focused on quick-witted wordplay than graphic tales of inner-city strife. Dre’s beats and Doc’s rhymes seemed the perfect match, and hip-hop heads everywhere were going nuts to crowd-rocking tracks like “It’s Funky Enough” and “Mind Blowin’.” While he doesn’t listen to it much these days, the fact that his first album is considered a classic is not lost on The D.O.C., who always had high aspirations with his music. “When I first started rapping, I wanted to be the greatest, whatever the fuck that means. So I can understand how people could relate to that energy. And I was clean. A lot of these records today, guys make enemies because they talk so much shit about each other, well I never had to do that. I never had to cuss out bitches and none of that kinda shit you know. So I got respect on all levels.”

Following the accident, he continued to work with Dre, lending his invaluable writing skills to Niggaz4life. After seeing little money for his work with Ruthless, he followed The Doctor to Death Row, where he contributed rhymes for The Chronic and Doggystyle, and helped mentor a young Snoop Dogg. Though his voice was forever altered, The D.O.C. continued to make his mark in the game.

Unfortunately, shady accounting was not exclusive to Ruthless, and he soon grew weary of his low profile position and lack of royalties at Death Row. Depressed and disillusioned, he parted ways with Dre and went off on his own, still hoping to release a follow-up album. After unsuccessfully trying to get Eazy to back it, he released Heltah Skeltah on the obscure Giant label in early 1996. With limited promotion and Dre-less beats, it came and went with little fanfare. “The Heltah Skeltah record, that’s when I was lost, within the drugs and alcohol period. You can pretty much tell in the lyrics, it’s some gothic shit going on my mind with that record.”

The D.O.C.

Since then however, The D.O.C. has slowly but surely been making his way back to the top. He wrote songs for Dre’s 2001 album, started his own label Silverback Entertainment, and has been producing for several other artists, trying to put the oft-neglected local scene on the map. “I got huge plans for DFW!” he says with obvious enthusiasm. “The guys’ names are 6Two, Uptight, Cadillac Seville The Mack, and a guy named El Dorado. All these guys are from the Dallas/Fort Worth area.” He’s also been working with MC Breed, the Flint, Michigan O.G. best known for his classic single “Ain’t No Future In Yo’ Frontin’.” “I got huge plans for MC Breed! I’m gonna stick him right on my label. There’s a platinum record inside MC Breed, he just doesn’t know how to knock it out, see but I do. So maybe when I sign him he’ll let me produce the record.”

Right now, The D.O.C. is all about his new album, Deuce. With a deep line-up featuring a grip of Texas talent, old friends like Snoop and Nate Dogg, and production from himself, Organized Noize, Erotic D, Jazzy Pha, and others, Doc’s long-awaited comeback is finally here. Despite the years between releases, he remains extremely confident about the new material. “No rapper has ever made a classic record, lost his voice, and came back and made another classic record. You gotta love it.”

And if we’re lucky, there may even be a tour. “Man you know what, there’s a lot of D.O.C. fans out there that never got to see me do nothing. So if not just to see all those guys, I’ll be out there. I don’t have any plans as of yet but I got a feeling this record is gonna take off pretty fast, because it’s a great record and people want a great record from me so bad. This is gonna hit the spot, so I think it’ll be time to go out and perform fairly quickly. As a matter of fact, I’m thinking about incorporating into the show, just a couple of the No One Can Do It Better songs, you know, just even with the old shit, lip-synch the shit anyways. Everybody knows what the fuck I’m doing, they’d probably like to see me perform that old stuff.”

As for his label, look for a full-length from 6Two in the near future. “The 6Two record is about 70% done, and all those beats came from Dr. Dre. I stole em out of his trunk when I was up there.” Also on deck will be one more album from the man himself. “I’m gonna do one more record under D.O.C., one more D.O.C. record. And that record is what’s gonna separate me, from any other rapper, ever. This next record is what’s gonna make me the greatest of all time. And I’m gonna tell you some shit that’s gonna fuck you up. It’s gonna be nothing but gangsta niggas rapping on the record, and it’s gonna play like a gospel album. I mean its gonna fuck everybody head up, they’re not gonna believe it. And they’re not gonna be on no rapping love songs, they’re gonna be rapping gangsta shit. But there’s gonna be so much heart in what they say, its gonna play like a gospel.”

Despite a number of shady deals in the past, The D.O.C. holds no grudges. “I don’t have any animosity towards anyone. Suge, Dre, Eazy. Nobody that’s done me any wrong, because it wasn’t really their fault, they were doing what they do. It was my fault, because I wasn’t doing what I was supposed to be doing. I was slippin, in other words. So you know, you can’t blame these guys. If you play with a snake you can’t blame the snake for biting you, that’s what snakes do.” On Suge: “I wish the guy success. I saw him at the hip-hop summit in California, I shook his hand, told him it was good to see him free, and good luck you know. But without hit records Death Row is gonna be in trouble.”

A living embodiment of the old saying “what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger,” The D.O.C. is clearly poised to take over the industry. “I got a complete understanding of the entire game now, I’m like Tiger Woods right now, I’m chewing em up. It’s all about great songs, great music, that’s the bottom line. If you make great songs, then there’s nothing they can say about you, they’re only gonna go buy the record, and even if they hate you they’re gonna pretend to like you.” Despite the ever-changing nature of hip-hop in the 21st century, for The D.O.C., it all comes back to the music. “Music is the shit. And when the music is the shit, it’s gonna be there. I don’t give a fuck what kind of music it is. Rap music is no different from soul music, it’s no different from country music. So the people who like good music, when they get good rap music, they’re gonna stick to it. And that’s something that sticks with you forever.”

Deuce is out now on Silverback Records.