A Conversation with The D.O.C. by Tim Sanchez (@tim_sanchez) / Photo: Mike Marshall
It was a Saturday evening in late September out in the city of Santa Monica, CA. As I walked in to a dark recording studio, legendary West Coast DJ & Producer Chris “The Glove” Taylor was sitting in front of a sound board giving coaching instructions to an artist inside of the booth who needed multiple recording takes in an attempt to lay down a verse to his liking. It was a dueling process that required patience on both the part of the recording artist and the producer and although I couldn’t see inside of the recording booth (since the lights were off), I could sense a touch of frustration from the artist as he faced the challenge of making the hook part of his song in the right pitch and melody. Recording is no easy task for any artist but especially for this particular artist who has spent the past couple of decades outside of the booth while writing for others – and that artist is The D.O.C.
As we are all familiar with his story, The D.O.C. lost his powerful voice due to a car accident after releasing his classic album “No One Can Do It Better” and writing hits for N.W.A. With that accident, the hip-hop world itself was robbed of an artist whose career could have rivaled some of the very all-time greats that are continuously brought up in Top 5 MC discussions, as The D.O.C. was that good – but with only one album to his credit, The D.O.C. often gets left out of those lists due to a lack of catalogued work.
I sat there in disbelief listening to The D.O.C. recording in his newfound voice since I’ve spend the last two plus decades hearing him talk in a raspy and rough sounding voice. This new voice, although lacking the power of the one heard on “No One Can Do It Better,” still sounded a lot more smooth and polished than the one heard on Dr. Dre’s “$20 Sack Pyramid” skit as “Duck Motherf*ckin’ Mouth.” After about a half hour of takes, both the artist and the producer were pleased with the results and it was then that I heard the familiar raspy voice of The D.O.C. speak in to the microphone to voice his approval and to let me know that he was ready to sit down for his interview.
Since the revelation of The D.O.C.’s recovering voice, hip-hop fans have been excited at the news and many on social media have expressed their hopes for a sequel to his 1989 classic “No One Can Do It Better” album. Although he’s been hard at work, there is no question that achieving such a goal is going to be a difficult challenge as evidenced by the studio session that I witnessed. That doesn’t mean it can’t happen, it just means that The D.O.C. is going to have to clear some hurdles that still remain in his path, such as regaining his voice to full strength – but if anybody can do it, it’s the doc, as he’s already faced several lifetimes of ups, downs, and challenges. AllHipHop sat down with the legendary MC to talk about his career, thoughts on the recent NWA movie, and of course his return to recording. When it’s all said and done, there’s a chance that he will make us all say once again that “no one can do it better.”
AllHipHop: I first heard you as part of The Fila Fresh Crew on the NWA & The Posse album when it first came out. I understand that the DJ for The Fila Fresh Crew was the one that hooked you up with Dr. Dre in the first place.
The D.O.C.: Yeah, our DJ Dr. Rock, was in Lonzo’s World Class Wreckin’ Cru but then he left and Dre ended up taking his spot – so he had that connection with them already. It was only a natural thing for Rock to reach out to his people when we as a group were ready to start recording. We actually recorded a lot of our stuff at Lonzo’s house.
AllHipHop: At that point, were you already familiar with Dr. Dre as a DJ and a Producer?
The D.O.C.: I knew his music from the Wreckin’ Cru stuff and also from Eazy’s “Boyz N The Hood.” I actually bought the maxi-cassette single for “Radio” and “Boyz N The Hood” when it first came out. I was a Dre fan already because I knew that his sound quality was the best sh*t smoking.
AllHipHop: Even back on the NWA & Posse album, you’re rap delivery was already crisp. Where did you get your style from since Dallas wasn’t a hotbed for hip-hop?
The D.O.C.: I studied the New York guys. There really is a formula to what I was doing. It was a little bit of Slick Rick, Run, KRS-One, Rakim and then with my own style. I took what I enjoyed from those guys and fused it. You’re right, Dallas was not a hotbed for the hip-hop scene but I wanted to be great like Rakim. I actually got really angry at him (Rakim) because he was so much better than me. I started chasing him.
AllHipHop: I hear a little bit of the early LL Cool J style in some of your songs.
The D.O.C.: LL is from Run’s tree. Run is the big bro, Cool James is the middle bro, and I’m the baby bro. It’s all the same to me – a really loud, clear, articulate and confident style.
AllHipHop: Why wasn’t The Fila Fresh Crew on the album cover of NWA & The Posse? Candyman was on it and he wasn’t even a part of the album.
The D.O.C.: They took all of those pictures before I ever showed up.
AllHipHop: So the album wasn’t even complete when they took those photos?
The D.O.C.: Yeah, the group itself (NWA) was still being solidified at that point. Ice Cube himself was still in C.I.A. when they took those shots. Shortly after I arrived, everything kind of just came together.
AllHipHop: We’re you nervous at all to come out to Los Angeles and start making records?
The D.O.C.: No. I’m the king of confidence. I was actually over confident. I knew in my soul that I had to get close to what LL Cool J was doing because he was the man at the time. I played my album “No One Can Do It Better” and then I played LL’s “Walking With A Panther” and I knew that I had made it. I was on that level and it might have been jumping beyond that level. I’m really confident as a person and that can be a blessing and a curse. As a confident young man away from home, I was uncontrollable.
AllHipHop: Was it hard for you to adapt to Los Angeles when you first arrived?
The D.O.C.: Yes, it was. I’m nowhere near a thug. I’m an introvert and a reader. When I arrived in Los Angeles, I was surrounded by the gang culture and the streets – and that sh*t was like a real shock. Maybe that led to a lot of the bravado, just to make sure that I felt like I fit in, like the drinking because I was uncomfortable a lot.
AllHipHop: Since we’re talking about your early days right now, let’s talk about the “Straight Outta Compton” movie. First off all, did you see it?
The D.O.C.: Yes, I did.
AllHipHop: What’s your take on the accuracy or inaccuracy of some of those scenes in the movie?
Part 2 of this exclusive interview runs tomorrow on AllHipHop.com.