The D.O.C.’s 1st Verse In 19 Years Gets A Video
The D.O.C. remains one of Hip-Hop’s great what-if stories. The Dallas, Texas native released just one solo album, 1989’s No One Can Do It Better. With Dr. Dre and DJ Yella’s production, the MC made a case for that title with elite lyricism, an incredible flow, and plenty of “high energy” and “wisdom” to boot. The member of the Fila Fresh Crew and noteworthy N.W.A. affiliate had a distinct voice and style.
However, just weeks after the Ruthless/Atlantic Records LP arrived, Tracy Curry fell asleep behind the wheel of his sports car on the Ventura Highway. He left the road, and the ensuing accident compromised his voice-box for two-and-a-half decades. The D.O.C. left Ruthless with his then-manager, Suge Knight, to assemble the pieces that would become Death Row Records—a label credited to Knight and Dr. Dre. At that company, The D.O.C. appeared in album skits and offered MC coaching, as well as writing he contributed to Dre’s The Chronic and Snoop Doggy Dogg’s debut, Doggystyle. Both albums went on to massive commercial success and critical acclaim, but The D.O.C.—like his voice—was compromised.
By the mid-1990s, The D.O.C. left the Death Row fold. Even with a compromised voice, he released 1996’s Helter Skelter, a personal, no-holds-barred LP that charted—but did not sustain in the minds of many fans. He would eventually reunite with Dre and contribute to 2001 three years later. By the early 2000s, The D.O.C. made one more attempt at an album with Deuce—a collection that featured contributions from Dre, Ice Cube, Snoop, Nate Dogg, and MC Ren. Despite the fanfare and casting a spotlight on protege 6Two, the indie album faded as fast as it arrived.
However, The D.O.C. has been pursuing a career comeback in the last several years. In the summer of 2015, the MC revealed that his voice was returning. “About a year and a half ago, my voice started returning. If I concentrate, I can speak with a natural voice again,” he revealed at From The Press Box to Press Row Show with Donal Ware. Later that year, the artist elaborated that yawning helped him discover how to find his vocal register.
Fans hear The D.O.C.’s return to form on “Fast Ones,” a collaboration with The Codefendants—a band led by NoFX vocalist Fat Mike. The song was released last year but got renewed attention and light through a music video. In the song, one of the great MCs shows he’s in form with, “I’ve been living so off balance that even drowning a f*cking challenge / Violence every day, this ain’t Fantasy Island / Ni**as wilin’,” before, “I was when it used to be attitudes, now it’s just a minstrel — Black fists, Black fools, clowns in blackface.” In the video, Tracy Curry appears as a fiery lawyer making a case to the jury to match his lyrics.
“[Fat Mike] was so genuine and cool and adamant about working together because, being introduced to my story, he really wanted to see me win,” The D.O.C. told Rolling Stone of his veteran, gold-selling song collaborator. “That kinda energy made it hard to say no. Plus, the guy’s a great producer, and the young guys have great voices. May as well add a dirty growl.” The group also includes Get Dead’s Sam King and Ceschi Ramos.
In 2016, The D.O.C. contributed a handful of bars on Bishop Lamont’s “Go Time.” This was in addition to more ceremonial appearances on songs by Above The Law’s Cold 187um and others. He also is the subject of an eponymous documentary that premiered at 2022’s Tribeca Film Festival and was recently acquired by Vertical Entertainment. The film’s producer, Gary Ousdahl, reportedly linked The D.O.C. with Fat Mike.
The D.O.C.’s comeback campaign is discussed in episode #102 of the What’s The Headline podcast. That conversation begins at 1:27:00:
There is also discussion surrounding Snoop Dogg returning the Death Row Records catalog (including music The D.O.C. worked on) to digital streaming platforms and his new partnership with former Apple executive Larry Jackson. New music by the Dreamville Records roster as well as Talib Kweli & Madlib is also highlighted.
AFH readers can catch regular discussions about the culture on our What’s The Headline. The podcast also features interviews with Rapper Big Pooh, Cormega, Meyhem Lauren & Daringer, Diamond D, Joell Ortiz, AZ, Blu & Mickey Factz, Kurupt, Evidence, Skyzoo, Pharoahe Monch, Prince Paul & Don Newkirk, Statik Selektah, Lyric Jones, The LOX, MC Eiht, Havoc, Duckwrth, photographer T. Eric Monroe, and Lord Finesse.