Finding The GOAT: The D.O.C. vs. Redman…Who You Got?
As we continue the ultimate battle for the title of the GOAT (Greatest of All-Time), we are asking you to help us rank who is the greatest MC to pick up a mic. We will take over 35 years of Hip-Hop into consideration, pairing special match-ups in a sequence not unlike March Madness. For the next several months, we will roll out battles, starting with artists from similar eras paired against one another, until one undisputed King or Queen of the microphone reigns supreme.
The next two MCs to square-off are products of the same era, with very different output: The D.O.C. and Redman. The “Doc” and the “Funk Doc” grew up on opposite coasts, with ties to two totally different 1980s crews (N.W.A, EPMD, respectively), but each defined themselves on their own terms. With breakout solos in 1989 and 1992, respectively, these two men carried innovative, uncompromising styles that are still ahead of the pack. Without catering to the mainstream, each one’s voice and songwriting has been championed by peers and followers for decades. These artists defied region, crew, time, and expectation in making incredibly dope Hip-Hop. While Redman’s catalog boasts eight solo records and three collaborative LPs, The D.O.C. has one true release under his belt, before suffering one of the greatest handicaps an MC has ever had to face. Still, with writing, appearances, and two later releases, he’s a true GOAT contender. Read these quite different backgrounds and histories, and cast your vote.
In addition to the tragically shortened careers due to death (Big L, Big Pun, The Notorious B.I.G., etc.), one of Hip-Hop’s saddest losses came in the form of The D.O.C., Dallas, Texas native, Tracy Curry, only being able to release one album, 1989’s Nobody Does It Better, before his career was stalemated in growing tensions with Ruthless Records. By the time The D.O.C. was nearly complete securing a new home at the would-be Death Row Records, the pioneering Southern lyricist (who held his own alongside N.W.A) lost much of his vocal ability due to a shard of glass cutting his larynx in a car accident. Although his damaged voice has not prevented “The Doc” from making more albums, he’s never been the same.
The man in the backseat of Dr. Dre’s ’64 Impala in “Nuthin’ But A ‘G’ Thang” and “Still D.R.E” is among Rap’s elite ghostwriters, and remains in the Aftermath circle today. However, it is D.O.C.’s debut album, and his late ’80s, early ’90s work that make him as fitting as any artist in the genre to take one album, and make a case for him to be the best. In Jerry Heller’s memoir, the Ruthless exec maintains that D.O.C.’s abilities eclipse that of Ice Cube and MC Ren, and many Heads consider Erykah Badu’s first child’s father Dr. Dre’s best-skilled protege, above Snoop Dogg, Eminem, or Game.
Beyond No One Can Do It Better, Doc’s catalog includes several N.W.A appearances, dating back to the pre-Straight Outta Compton days (see three tracks on N.W.A & The Posse). Through the late ’80s, like Kurupt after him, D.O.C. was a fierce reminder to all that lyricists that fast, deft, and thoughtful were universal.
Other Notable Tracks:
For more than 20 years, Redman has thrived in the major label system making unwavering, unadulterated, and uncompromising Hip-Hop. One of the New Jersey pioneers, Newark’s Reggie Noble is the tallest EPMD product—and one of the few 2010s touchstones to the first wave of Def Jam Records. Although he carried the wit, pop culture references, and Funk-inspired qualities of his mentor, Erick Sermon, Funk Doc has been his own entity, a master of cohesive album-making who always seemed disinterested with hit singles.
From pepped up albums like Doc’s Da Name 2000 and Malpractice to dim inner-journeys like Dare Iz A Darkside and Muddy Waters, to old school homages El Nino, Redman is a true artist. The MC/producer never loses the beat, and seems fully intent on sounding like nobody before him, or after him. One of Hip-Hop’s nice-guy personas has been nothing nice on wax since 1992, with a raucous delivery that’s stayed the course no matter Rap’s changing trends du jour.
With a massive catalog, Redman joins his affiliates in Wu-Tang Clan as an ageless face, voice, and style in Hip-Hop. In the ’90s and 2000s, when things were too synthetic, too prim and proper, or too shiny, Reggie Noble was the stalwart to muddy them up. An MC’s MC, this is a true artist who has found the mainstream through being himself on and off the record.
So…who you got?
Voting For Round 1 is now closed. Stay up to date with the latest Finding The GOAT brackets