The D.O.C. Speaks About Idolizing Rakim & Making Plans To Work On New Music Together (Video)
On August 1, 1989, The D.O.C. released his debut album, No One Can Do It Better. The Ruthless/Atco/Atlantic Records album was the solo debut from the Dallas, Texas MC, formerly of the Fila Fresh Crew. Produced by N.W.A.’s Dr. Dre, it was not only an important mainstream representation of Southern Hip-Hop, the release proved to be critically and commercially successful, becoming a Top 20 release on the pop charts, and #1 on the R&B/Rap charts.
Heads had heard the MC born Tracy Curry on N.W.A. & The Possé, Eazy-Duz-It, as well on Gangsta Rap blockbuster, Straight Outta Compton. With key feature appearances, The D.O.C. piqued interest leading up to a debut that more than delivered. As Dre selected sounds different from what he’d use with N.W.A., Eazy, or J.J. Fad.
Appearing on Sway In The Morning, The D.O.C. sat in for more than an hour to discuss his career. He spoke about his relationship with Erykah Badu that began out of a classmate friendship in the 1980s. The D.O.C. recounted watching Eminem in the late 1990s write raps on paper in the shape of the infinity symbol and create a metronome. He also says that when he was younger, he prayed to God to make him the greatest MC. If the Creator provided, The D.O.C. would let all know who was really responsible for his gifts. He said this explains the religious statue on the artwork of that gold-certified 1989 debut (7:00). He alleges that the artwork was misconstrued by some, seeing the “King of Kings, Lord of Lords” text. “A lot of people say that maybe that was G-O-D’s way of saying, ‘slow your roll, kid. You’re movin’ too fast; let me sit you down for a minute,” he tells Sway, apparently referring to the mid-November 1989 accident.
Admitting he was high on Ecstasy, The D.O.C. crashed his brand new sports car, headed westbound on the Ventura Highway, the same day he shot the “Beautiful But Deadly” and “The Formula” music videos. Twenty-one years old at the time, the rapper suffered damage to his face, especially his eyes and nose, but it was his voice that would never be the same. Reportedly due to a shard of glass penetrating his neck, arguably the greatest MC of 1989 missed his chance to prove himself as one of the best ever.
However, The D.O.C. tells Sway that if not for the accident, he believes he would not have lived at all. At the time, he was managed by Marion “Suge” Knight—a former pro football player and bodyguard-turned-music executive. Knight would create an imprint with help from The D.O.C. In the early stages, Doc’ was on board as one of the partners, when the label was to be known as Future Shock (named after a Curtis Mayfield song). By the time 1992 happened, Dr. Dre was Knight’s partner, and the company was named Death Row. In the interview, D’ addresses some of this history around 23:00 in Part 1.
“Dre is probably the only person that’s ever said this to me…and if you know Dre and my relationship, it’s probably as brutal and honest as you can get. Dre says, ‘you should never rap again,'” The D.O.C. says ahead of 12:00 in Part 1, referring to an old conversation between MC and producer. “He says, ‘They think you’re the king, and right now you should go out like that.’ I just couldn’t accept that. It just wasn’t in my DNA; I couldn’t do it. So whenever I wrote raps [for Dr. Dre], I would always put my name in his raps, ’cause I’m tryin’ to live—I need to live! Aw, that’d piss him off.” In verses like on “Nuthin’ But A ‘G’ Thang,” penned by The D.O.C., Dre shouted out the rapper—who extensively appeared in the breakthrough 1992 Chronic music video.
The D.O.C. would not take Dre’s advice. In January of 1996, he released Helter Skelter. According to some, the rapper used his Giant/Warner Bros. Records release title to snatch the planned name of Dre and Ice Cube’s then-planned collabo LP. The album had the single “From Ruthless 2 Death Row (Do We All Part),” publicizing his fallout with Dre and career setbacks. The pair would make amends, ahead of 2003’s Deuce project. That album featured Dre production and vocals, along with The D.O.C.’s 2001 protege, 6Two.
Sway and The D.O.C. run down some of his writing, credited and otherwise, before and after the ’89 accident. The D.O.C. says he wrote parts of N.W.A.’s “F*ck Tha Police” (Eazy-E’s verse), “Still Talkin’,” “Appetite For Destruction,” “Always Into Somethin’,” “We Want Eazy” in addition to confirming Sway’s list including, “Real Ni**az,” “Straight Outta Compton,” “Parental Discretion Iz Advised,” and “100 Miles & Runnin’.” Early last year, The D.O.C. told VladTV which songs he penned for The Chronic.
While much is known about The D.O.C.’s extensive history with the Ruthless and Death Row Records family trees, during the discussion, he also reveals how influential Rakim was on his career. He says that as a teen in Dallas, he wrote his raps by candlelight, having heard that Rakim did the same. When asked by Heather B whether he ever met Rakim, Doc replies “You know what? And, this is cold blooded. I just met Ra for the first time about 2 months ago…I met him and gave him my reverence. Told him that from him came me. And, he said the same thing. He said ‘Bro, you took it and went way over there with it.’ I said ‘Thank you, God. I’m thinking about lacing them up and giving it a go. Would you do me the honor.’ And, he said ‘I absolutely would.’ So, we’re making plans to do music together, referencing his current comeback with reported restoration to his vocals (18:30). Both D.O.C. and Rakim had strong ties to Aftermath Entertainment at different times.
Elsewhere in the interview, The D.O.C. discusses writing for MC Breed after the Death Row tenure and building friendships with Tupac, Scarface, and Richie Rich. The rapper says that while in ATL in 1994, Pac clowned him about his dependency and ties to Dre and Death Row. In 1995, Tupac signed to the label, himself.
#BonusBeat: A recent photo of The D.O.C. and Rakim: