Here is Part 2 of our conversation with The D.O.C. In this Q&A by Tim Sanchez, you get the real Doc, unfiltered. He takes us down memory lane, but also updates everybody on the status of his voice. A must read for Hip-Hop fanatics. If you missed Part 1, click here and enjoy.
AllHipHop: What’s your take on the accuracy or inaccuracy of some of those scenes in the movie?
The D.O.C.: Because it’s a movie, I allow for a poetic license. It’s a great movie and I support those guy’s vision a thousand percent. But was it a hundred percent accurate? No. It was well done and the way that they showed the group connecting is what I got in to the most. My character in the movie was as an outsider coming in. I was there but I wasn’t really engaging with those guys and that was true to form because I was Dre’s guy. I had seen bits and pieces of it beforehand because of Dre but I didn’t want to see the entire thing before it was released. I wanted to see it in the theater and enjoy it like everybody else.
AllHipHop: But were you happy with your character? And I ask that because there is a scene where you storm out of the studio and Eazy’s like, “Go get your drunk friend” to Dre.
The D.O.C.: I was drunk and I talked a lot of sh*t to Eric (Eazy) just like the guy in the movie did. But I didn’t really look at the movie from a personal perspective because that was their vision and they made the movie from their perspective – and I just supported it.
AllHipHop: Was it rough watching the scene where you’re unconscious in the hospital after your accident?
The D.O.C.: I’m finally past that and it took a long time for that to happen – but I’m past it. And no, that scene didn’t bother me. I mean, it was a trip but none of those things (in that scene) actually happened. But the movie is out there and it’s a part of history, and long after I’m gone I’ll be known as the dude who talked sh*t to Eazy (laughs).
AllHipHop: You’re album, “No One Can Do It Better,” has stood the test of time and many hip-hop fans have called it a classic. What is your favorite track off of that album?
The D.O.C.: The Formula, because I am a Marvin Gaye guy. I love all of them though because we did some good work on that album. I was just a young kid and I had no real clue of what I was doing but just brag to a beat. There was only one song that didn’t make the album and that was a cut called “Bridgette” but everything else that Dre and I did made it. As a matter of fact, songs like “Let The Bass Go” and “Whirlwind Pyramid” I did when I first came out to Los Angeles and I recorded those in Eazy-E’s mother’s garage. We came back to those songs a year later and they were untouched – those songs were just demos. We didn’t have a lot of time to make the album because we were touring, so we just used the songs to fill it out.
AllHipHop: All of them are great but I have two ultimate favorites and the first being “Portrait of a Masterpiece.” I dig the way you stopped the track to catch your breath and then once you got it, you finished out the song. Who came up with that idea?
The D.O.C.: That was a Dr. Dre thing – he’s good at those kinds of things. I might have actually been out of breath (during a take) and from there he suggested that we use it in the song.
AllHipHop: My other favorite is “The Grand Finale.” A producer friend of mine says it’s the greatest hip-hop song ever made, and I myself think it’s the best posse cut and ending to an album. From the way that the organ keys goes higher and higher until the horns drop to the verses. Even Eazy-E held his own on that record with three great lyricists!
The D.O.C.: It was a great record. We were a team on that one and worked hard to make Eazy look great. It didn’t have to be perfect but it had to be him, and from my perspective I made it (Eazy’s verse) funny so that people could enjoy it.
AllHipHop: Now that you mention writing for Eazy-E, which songs did you write for him?
The D.O.C.: Let’s see, “We Want Eazy,” “Still Talking Sh*t,” “Easier Said Than Dunn,” “Straight Outta Compton,” “F*ck Tha Police,” and more. It’s a lot of f*ckin’ records. I’d do a reference track for him and then he would take it and learn it. When he’d record it, it would be a little different, but it was him. He’d get the rhythm down and lay it down the best he could.
AllHipHop: Hip-Hop is competitive even amongst friends. Was there any competition going between yourself, Ice Cube, and MC Ren?
The D.O.C.: Hell yeah, all of the time. I took my sh*t back to re-write it plenty of times. Ice Cube would come through hard with a verse and I was like, “I can’t let him do me like that.” And he did the same thing too when it came to my bars. Ren wasn’t in to all of that though, he laid his verses and was like, “F*ck it, that’s it.” Cube and I re-wrote our verses quite a few times though.
AllHipHop: Did you guys have any rap battles to see who was better?
The D.O.C.: No, we didn’t do that. We were all in this together. Those were just same of the best days ever. We were young and having a ball riding around the country doing videos. I could see that Cube was going to be an actor because he was good in front of a camera. I fancied myself as an actor when I was a kid but as all know my life took a different direction due to circumstances.
AllHipHop: Speaking of acting, I recently saw a video where you played Ice Cube as a parody and you and Jerry Heller were clowning him hard. Someone on my Facebook timeline posted it and it was hilarious. I had never seen it before.
The D.O.C.: That was great, I loved it. Now that was before the break-up. Ice Cube was still with the group when we shot that. After he left, somebody took that and edited it to make it seem like we were dissing him. That was filmed the day before of the last NWA show on that final tour before the split. It was later edited to appear as a diss.
AllHipHop: So Cube was still with the group when you filmed that. Did he know about it?
The D.O.C.: No. I stole his hat and jacket – but we did stuff like that all of the time! I was just having fun. It was never meant to be a diss. I have a massive amount of respect for Ice Cube – Ren, Dre, Yella and Eric included. Those guys are like family to me.
AllHipHop: You guys were close but I’ve seen various internet reports over the years stating that you were a part of NWA. Were you ever at any point an official member of the group before the accident?
The D.O.C.: No and that was something that they (NWA) made very clear to me. I was never in the group, not even after Ice Cube left. My accident actually occurred not long after his departure. But before all of that, I couldn’t even get in to the “We Want Eazy” video even after I wrote the f*cking song, just because I wasn’t in the group. That stung and it made me feel a certain kind of way for a while.
AllHipHop: I was listening to NWA’s “Efil4zaggin” album recently and studying their change to a more up-tempo, loud, and hard-drum hitting style. I have a theory that they adapted to your style after Ice Cube left because some of those tracks like “Appetite For Destruction” and “Real N*ggaz” sound like they could have made for you had you not been in that accident.
The D.O.C.: When Cube left, the NWA that you previously knew changed and they lost something in their matrix. The other guys were there but the energy that Cube brought to these cast of characters on the first NWA album was gone and could be heard on his own release, “Amerikkka’s Most Wanted.” I did a lot of the writing for “Efil4zaggin” and that’s a good point you bring up in comparing the sound of their second album to my style.
AllHipHop: I was blown away just like everybody else when I saw the announcement of your returning voice on Twitter and even more so when I heard a sample of it in your interview with From The Press Box To Press Row.
The D.O.C.: That was a call-in interview that an associate set up. The NWA movie was out so anybody who was connected with it was getting interview requests and I agreed to do it. The part where I spoke in my returning voice tripped a lot of people out because nobody but a few had heard it up to that point. The reaction that I received was great – everybody wants me to do an album now so the pressure is on (laughs). The reality is, I’m trying to get one line to sound good – one line! If I can get one line right then I can translate that in to two.
AllHipHop: What was the exact moment that you realized your voice was returning and what was going through your head when you discovered it?
The D.O.C.: I was locked up in Texas for drinking and driving and one day during my sentence, I yawned, and I heard my regular voice. I tried to use my real voice again but I couldn’t except for when I yawned, and from there that’s how it started. I tripped out as it was all happening – making plans for my rap return and everything because it happened during the end of my sentence. I knew it was a G-O-D thing and I kept trying to use that voice more and more and even though I was making progress, it was still hard to control and maintain it. I began to have doubts about if I was going to be able to really make it work so I put it on the backburner and started working with kids again, trying to help these young guys do their thing.
AllHipHop: Does it hurt at all to use your newfound voice? Is there any dizziness involved?
The D.O.C.: No, and there is going to come a day when I open my mouth to speak and it will be this new one and not the raspy one, and it will be the raspy voice that will feel weird.
AllHipHop: While I was waiting to do this interview, I saw you recording verses with your new voice.
The D.O.C.: I’m trying! I really am trying to give it my best shot. My voice sounds deeper right now than what you’re used to hearing on my records and that’s another hurdle that I’m dealing with – not sounding like my old self. It’s hard to hear if I actually am coming out right and it can mean doing a lot of recording takes.
AllHipHop: That must be another big adjustment to since you’re the guy who did “Funky Enough” in one single take.
The D.O.C.: Oh, I can’t do that anymore (laughs). And yes, it is an adjustment but then again this whole process is because I haven’t really tried to record a song in fifteen to twenty years. I have to practice and build from the ground up, it’s like I almost have to create a whole new person and a whole new artist. It’s all baby-steps but I like where it’s going.
AllHipHop: Is your voice causing you to change the way that you write lyrics?
The D.O.C.: Yeah, I have to make an allowance for that because I can’t just rip it the way I used to. But it’s still goes within the context of making a good song because the song has to work regardless of who is recording it.
AllHipHop: I imagine that you have a plan in all of this. Where is all of this heading to? Are we really going to see an album from The D.O.C.?
The D.O.C.: Chuck D has a new album with Public Enemy called “Man Plans, God Laughs.” I’m going to answer that question with that album title to let you know that this is a G-O-D thing and not a D-O-C thing. I’m not making any plans, just following what I feel. I’m terrified to get up in front of people with this new voice but I feel it’s bigger than me and more important than those insecurities that I have. I feel that I can do so much more by being brave and battling through it, and not just for myself, but for those that can be inspired by watching a powerful black man stand up and not have bitterness or ill-will towards people in the past. And I mean that in regards to how things turned out for me, because none of that was any of their fault.
One of the reasons that I’m not mad at the NWA movie for not really spotlighting my accomplishments for the group, is that it gives me the chance to tell it myself. And let me tell you that my story is a hell of a f*cking story – a lot dirtier than the “Straight Outta Compton” movie. There’s a lot more pain and struggle in my story but at the end of the day I realized that I can be so much more than just a rapper. I can be of service to a lot of people in this world – it’s just me getting past this hurdle. Then I can be the father that I want to be, the son I want to be, and the friend that I want to be.
AllHipHop: So we are going to one day see and hear the full story of The D.O.C.? The good, the bad, and the ugly?
The D.O.C.: Oh yes, I’ve written it what feels like a thousand times just to get it off my chest. But now that the NWA movie is out, I am getting calls from people interested in helping me to tell my story. I began working on that documentary not too long ago and the album that will be attached to it – and that’s where I’m going to start and let it all go from there.
AllHipHop: When it comes time to tell your story, I just want to urge you to tell us everything, the good and the bad. Please don’t use it as an opportunity to just make yourself look good.
The D.O.C.: Oh yeah, you’re going to hear everything. I’m going to tell the story of an alcoholic, dope-fiend, who is a genius – and everything that goes along with that. That’s the only way that I feel that I can help someone – the next me, not be so like me.