25 Years After a Presumed Career-Ending Accident, The D.O.C.’s Voice Is Returning (Audio)
One of Hip-Hop’s most tragic “what if’s” surrounds Dallas, Texas MC The D.O.C. A onetime Ruthless Records artist, the rapper born Tracy Curry came into the music industry as a protege of Dr. Dre, Eazy-E, and N.W.A. His 1989 album No One Can Do It Better is widely revered as a benchmark album for its lyricism, coming from a Southern artist over West Coast production.
Following the release of No One Can Do It Better in August of 1989, the former standout of the Fila Fresh Crew was involved in a severe car accident in Los Angeles, California. The D.O.C.’s larynx (voice-box) was severely injured, all but ruining his commercial Rap career.
Yesterday (August 21), the veteran songwriter and MC appeared on Sirius satellite radio. On Channel 141’s “From The Press Box to Press Row Show” with Donal Ware, The D.O.C. spoke with a revived voice. “About a year and a half ago, my voice started coming back on its own. If I concentrate, I can speak with a natural voice again,” he said, showing listeners, on the spot, the shift (9:30). The D.O.C. also revealed he was incarcerated when he discovered the shift. He added that the power to project is not as strong as is once was. Admitting that the healing vocal chords are part of a process, the onetime Rap sensation explained that he hopes to get better crispness and clarity to his voice with time. “Miracles happen everyday. I’m proof,” he said, in a brief press statement.
“That accident was a pivotal point in Hip-Hop,” said Curry about the night that changed the course of his career, and arguably Rap history as Heads know it. “Everything changed that night,” he said, prompting him, Dr. Dre (and Suge Knight) to step out of Ruthless Records.
Additionally, the gold-certified soloist reacted to the film, Straight Outta Compton (“It’s a great movie, I think those guys did a great job. After understanding the intensity of the accident and the understanding of new car registration california laws, they really deserve all the great things that are happening.”), and alluded to upcoming work, including a documentary film, and the latest in a career of reunions with Dre.
In the years that followed the 1989 career-altering car accident, The Doc (as he’s often known by) would continue his acclaimed rhyme writing, thanks to Dr. Dre’s The Chronic and Snoop Doggy Dogg’s Doggystyle, participating in the ensemble cast to the movement he helped found: Death Row Records. Parting ways with Suge Knight, Dr. Dre, and Death Row in the middle of the decade, Curry would return to rapping, despite his vocal challenges. 1996’s Helter Skelter would release through the Warner Bros.-distributed Giant label, with the raspy MC sharing the album with appearances by the late MC Breed and Jamal from Illegal. “I’m a writer, so writing is always gonna be easy. The thing that was difficult was facing the fact that I didn’t have my superpowers anymore,” said the MC of his two post-accident LPs. “Pre-accident, my voice was pretty special—I could do damn near anything with [it].”
Following Dre’s own Death Row exodus, The D.O.C. would return to a writing post at Aftermath Entertainment, working on 2001 and other Dre-attached efforts. In early 2003, the former Erykah Badu mentor (and father of her child) would release a third solo LP, Deuce. The work boasted Dr. Dre production, along with appearances by Snoop, Ice Cube, MC Ren, Nate Dogg, and latest protege, 6Two.
Do you think The D.O.C. can make a proper follow-up song to those on his debut, more than 26 years later?
Related: Rare 25-Year Old N.W.A. Photos & Collectibles Resurface, Care of a Longterm Fan (Interview)