The Ultimate N.W.A./Ruthless Records Posse Cut Belongs To The D.O.C. (Audio)
In the last year, N.W.A. and Ruthless Records have been in strong focus thanks to the film Straight Outta Compton. In the movie, the label launched by Eric “Eazy-E” Wright is seen from its beginnings around N.W.A., to the 1990s, where the Los Angeles, California-based imprint would develop some key other acts. One character in the film is The D.O.C., who along with Bone Thugs-N-Harmony, Above The Law, Michel’le, and J.J. Fad would become commercial successes.
In his time with Ruthless, The D.O.C. only released one album. 1989’s No One Can Do It Better is a platinum-certified benchmark heralded among the best debuts. The former member of the Fila Fresh Crew would work closely with Dr. Dre and DJ Yella on an album that defied region. The D.O.C. (born Tracy Curry) was from Dallas, Texas. Dre and Yella were straight out of Compton, California, and all in together they found a sound different than that of N.W.A. After all, Doc’s lyricism was more along the lines of LL Cool J, Kool G Rap, and Big Daddy Kane than it was Ice-T, Eazy-E, or MC Hammer. Thereby, Dre and Yella used hard drums, breaks from the melody in places, and an aggressive sound that stood apart from N.W.A.’s work.
In 1988, one year prior, Marley Marl had unleashed “The Symphony.” The mid-1980s legend of the Juice Crew came to living color with an a relay race of rapid rhyming MCs, including Kane, G Rap, Masta Ace, and Craig G. In ’89, The D.O.C. and his squad wanted a supreme posse cut of their own.
No one can say that “The Grand Finale” was a gimmick. The last of N.O.C.D.I.B.‘s 13 tracks was not even a single. It was, however, one of N.W.A.’s most flow-savvy moments, and a testament to Ruthless’ late ’80s star power. Ironically, as the title unknowingly foreshadowed, it would be the very last record on which the N.W.A. line up of Eazy, Dre, MC Ren and Ice Cube would record together.
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Dre assembled his session players of the day (Stan The Guitar Man, L.A. Dre, DJ Speed, etc.) to make a song that was funky, with a Hip-Hop feel. Keeping time, Cube, Ren, Eazy busted strong, fast-paced verses with the cussin’ included. The record was all about showin’ out, skillfully. With Dre playing the Marley-like position of talking through the record (he used his speaking voice unlike Marl), it set the gap for The D.O.C. to catapult through, and close out his stellar debut with his style, sound, and elite team around him.
For fiery messages, First Amendment stands, and groovy tracks, N.W.A. has a number of highlights. However, “The Grand Finale” is one of the true gems to understanding the MC forces at play on the Ruthless roster.
As a note, No One Can Do It Better is one of the 10 Best Albums From The 1980s voted by readers in Ambrosia For Heads’ current Finding The GOAT: Hip-Hop Album series.
Past Ambrosia For Heads’ Do Remember Features.
Related: The D.O.C. Reveals Which Songs He Wrote For Dr. Dre’s The Chronic (Video)