Artist: The DOC
Label: Silverback Records
Rating: 7 / 10
Reviewer: A to the L
Seasoned Hiphop heads will concur that Tracy Curry is one of the unluckiest men in the history of this music. Originally a member of the Fila Fresh Crew, it was under the name The DOC that Curry came into the spotlight during NWA’s heyday, thanks to the fantastic combination of his booming voice spitting aggressively hardcore rhymes and Dr Dre’s top notch production work. His debut album, “Noone Can Do It Better” is generally agreed to be one of the top 30 Hiphop albums EVER, and when it dropped had heads fiending for more from this Texas cat who had seemed to just appear from nowhere.
And then… disaster. Coming home from a show one night in 1989, DOC fell asleep at the wheel and was involved in a horrific car accident that left him close to death. Its a testament to Curry’s determination that he survived at all, but fate cruelly ensured that his life would never be the same after the accident, as his larynx was crushed on the impact. Despite surgery, his voice never recovered its “ruff smoothness”, and he was quickly relegated from a master emcee to a cat playing bit parts on Dre’s “The Chronic” and Snoop’s “Doggy Style”. Upset not only by what had happened to him, but also due to the fact that he had written much of the material on those two albums and yet received very little credit, DOC left Dre’s camp behind in a somewhat acrimonious split, and recorded a 1996 solo album “Helter Skelter”. Unfortunately it suffered from lacklustre production and in addition, DOC’s voice sounded painfully dry and cracked – a mile away from the dopeness of old. Unsurprisingly the album sank without trace.
Now in 2003, the DOC is back with his third album, “Deuce” on Silverback Records. Although officially titled as DOC’s album, on first listen it becomes apparent that this is more a showcase of DOC and the rest of the Silverback stable, as opposed to a straight up solo joint. One member in particular, 6Two, who appeared on Dre’s “Chronic 2001” makes frequent appearances, and carries a large share of the emceeing duties throughout.
After a couple of skittish-type spoken word intros, things start properly with ‘Big Dick Shit’. Its surprisingly bouncy, something I can’t say I’d ever envisioned saying about a DOC track – he always seemed to be one of those cats who passed on the party cuts in favour of the hardcore. However as Nate Dogg croons the hook, and 6Two’s warm Texas drawl spreads all over the track, it becomes clear that this, like most of the other cuts here doesn’t really feature DOC at all – a few lines sprinkled around the middle aside, this is really a 6Two track – and its pretty good.
Following this is the first single, ‘The Shit’, a Jazze Pha-produced NWA reunion of sorts featuring Mc Ren, a surprisingly decent Icecube, Snoop Dogg, and 6 Two trading rhymes with the DOC. Again, DOC’s short verse at the beginning is all we’re treated to here, but its been noted that he sounds a little more comfortable on the mic here with his “new” voice that he was on Helter Skelter – there’s less straining, things are a little less painful-sounding for him. However, over a mid tempo assortment of tumbling strings and stabs, its Ren who steals the show – someone get this man some decent production and put him in a studio quick…
“Ren makin niggaz run and duck, hands on my balls
With The D.O.C. not givin a fuck, we bad luck
Here a dick to suck – your hoe can taste it
With the villain DNA when she ready to chase it
I’m on another level than y’all
Niggas dressed up like they Pope John Paul
It’s that new motherfuckin “Formula” y’all
Fuck the dress code, nigga come and smash the walls…”
‘What Would You Do’ a sombre team up between 6Two and Silverback labelmate, Uptight is followed by a couple of Dr Dre-influenced tracks that leave funk dripping out of the speakers, pooling in a puddle on your floor. ‘Gorilla Pimpin’ borrows heavily from the BT Express cut ‘Do It Til Your Satisfied’, but with a fantastically fonky end result, with 6Two dropping pimp shit as Dre urges him on the chorus. This is followed by ‘Judgement Day’, where the good doctor has managed to supply a beat that is both wickedly warm and funky, and yet industrially cold at the same time.
Elsewhere, longtime DOC collaborator Erotic D comes through with a couple of tracks that are strikingly different from much of the rest of the album’s material due to their laidback grooves and smooth vibes. The superb ‘Ghetto Blues’ is built around a tight guitar lick, that’s almost Everlast “Whitey Ford”-ish in style. 6Two does the track justice too, dropping knowledge on the everyday ghetto struggle – a fairly worn out Hiphop subject that still manages to pique the interest here due to the combination of 6Two’s flow, and the funky backing track. ‘All In The Family’ meanwhile is a showcase of the Silverback talent, featuring El Dorado and N’dambi, and sounds a little like some early Outkast ish.
Rounding things off, ‘Mentally Disturbed’ at first sounds a little repetitive but quickly becomes a grower – again, its a 6Two solo joint, and again he impresses, which bodes well for the future of Silverback Records; ‘DFW’ is an Organised Noise produced joint full of rumbling horns and menacing piano rolls that makes the head nod; the laidback ‘Playboy’ is trademark West Coast smooth shit – live sounding backing tracks, and lots of lessons on pimping hoes… ignorantly dope shit!
So is this a welcome return for the DOC? Well, yes and no. Its great to see him back on the scene and getting involved in Hiphop again, but to be honest he barely appears on this album in an active role. However this IS a very welcome introduction to 6Two – he’s very impressive, rides different types of beats comfortably, and his charisma is stamped all over each track he appears on. As a DOC solo album, this would hardly get any score at all, but if you take this as a showcase of the talent on the Silverback label, then it deserves every mark it gets… and it gets lots. Go pick this up.