The D.O.C.’s No One Can Do It Better vs. Ice-T’s Rhyme Pays. Which Is Better?

One year ago, Ambrosia For Heads launched a debate among its readers seeking to answer one of Hip-Hop’s most hotly-contested questions: who is the greatest MC of all time? “Finding The GOAT MC” lasted between September 2014 and May 2015, engaging millions of readers and ultimately producing its winner, as determined by hundreds of thousands of voters. Now, “Finding The GOAT” returns to ask a new question: what is the greatest of all time Hip-Hop album?

“Finding The GOAT Album” will consider 120 albums from three individual eras (40 in each), with options for wild card and write-in candidates. You and your vote will decide which album goes forward, and which one leaves the conversation. While there will no doubt be conversation between family and friends (virtual and real), only votes cast in the voting tool below will be counted, so use the power of your click.

Both The D.O.C. and Ice-T were out of town transplants making history in 1980s Los Angeles, California. Each MC helped cultivate the would-be West Coast Hip-Hop movement with powerfully-speaking, innovative, and lyrical debut albums. While No One Can Do It Better rolled over another contemporary’s debut in King T’s Act A Fool in Round 1, Ice-T’s Rhyme Pays narrowly passed Too Short’s Born To Mack by the second lowest Round 1 margin. These two vets showcase two of their finest works head-to-head in a Round 2 match-up that wagers emphasis on skill versus style. (Click one then click “vote”).


No One Can Do It Better by The D.O.C.

– Round 1 Winner (against Act A Fool by King T, 86% to 14%)

After working alongside N.W.A. since 1987, Dallas, Texas native The D.O.C. distinguished himself in debut No One Can Do It Better. Entering the 1990s, arguably the most exciting lyricist in Hip-Hop was from below the Mason-Dixon, thanks to the linguistic gifts of Tracy Curry. The Doc, as he is also known, made an album that maintained the N.W.A. attitude, but brought attention to intricate lyrical displays. “Lend Me An Ear” presented a fast-flowing, energetic MC who pushed rhymes with a raw urgency. “Let The Bass Go” slowed things down a great deal, but showed just how comfortable a technical MC could get inside a wide, melodic Dr. Dre beat.

Before Snoop Dogg three years later, The D.O.C. was the first soloist to completely mesh with Dre’s sound. Produced largely alone (as opposed to DJ Yella co-productions on other Ruthless efforts), this is the album that made Andre Young one of the proven musical auteurs. “D.O.C. & The Doctor” took a Run-D.M.C./Beastie Boys-style routine, and advanced the rhymes, delivery, and the complex, dynamic beat. Listen closely, and The Chronic is rolling up as Dre sequences the Funk into drum-driven Rap tracks. “It’s Funky Enough” does the same, as D.O.C. used all the verbal tools to command attention from the album’s start. “The Grand Finale” was the perfect closer. As Marley Marl and The Juice Crew were flaunting possé cut perfection on their brand of beats, N.W.A. and Doc did the same, with a foul-mouthed lyrical dunk contest. No One Can Do It Better was fearless in its title, and honored its word in execution. Although Dallas has yet to produce another Rap star on D.O.C.’s level, this album is great beyond the geography. A producer sought out a talent and made a musical marriage, which explains their faithful working relationship more than 25 years later.

Album Number: 1
Released: August 1, 1989
Label: Ruthless/Atco/Atlantic Records
Highest Charting Position (Top 200): #20 (certified gold, September 1989; certified platinum April, 1994)
Song Guests: N.W.A. (Eazy E, Dr. Dre, Ice Cube, MC Ren, DJ Yella), MC Ren, Michel’le, Dr. Dre
Song Producers: (self), Dr. Dre, DJ Yella


Rhyme Pays by Ice-T

– Round 1 Winner (Against Born To Mack by Too Short, 53% to 47%)

In the five years leading up to his debut album, Ice-T applied the learned techniques of MC’ing with his surroundings. With cinematic detail and commanding cadence, Tracy Marrow’s Rhyme Pays presented a world that was escapism for some, and cold reality for others. The Newark, New Jersey native living in Los Angeles, California combined the superficial allures of the Sunset Strip with the deadly stakes survival tactics of South Central. “6 N’ The Morning” was everyday life’s brutal awakening, as “I Love Ladies” was its lewd dream. A rhyming storyteller, Ice-T applied the imagery and ethos of Iceberg Slim with the B-Boy sensibilities of the Universal Zulu Nation for an album experience that stood out in 1987, even from Rap peers Schoolly D and Eazy-E.

Rhyme Pays positioned Ice-T as an all-knowing hustler. Ice had the girls, he had the cars, and he dressed the part of a playboy. However, the album succeeded in that it broke down the struggle to attain such. Ten years before The Notorious B.I.G.’s hit, “Pain” suggested that with mo’ money, comes mo’ problems. Ice-T sold facts with fantasy, and his debut would be one of his most versatile outings as an MC. “409” was an extension of his Techno-Hop 12″ early 1980s artisty. “Make It Funky,” care of New York City native Afrika Islam, showed Hip-Hop’s universality. Few artists have embraced region as effectively as Ice-T—yet even from the onslaught, he is arguably Rap’s most bi-coastal figure. Rhyme Pays is an archetype album for all that followed. Ice put his life and surroundings on wax, and did so with skill, finesse, and unique production. In this LP’s wake, MCs sought pulp fiction for their verses, and gangsters, players, and pimps cultivated flow to sell their game.

Album Number: 1
Released: July 28, 1987
Label: Sire/Warner Bros. Records
Highest Charting Position (Top 200): #93 (certified gold, December, 1991)
Song Guests: DJ Evil E, Emanon Johnson
Song Producers: Afrika Islam, Dave Storrs, Greg “SSL” Mann

So what’s the better album? Make sure you vote above.

Related: Ambrosia For Heads’ Finding The GOAT: The Albums