Real Name: Tracy Lynn Curry
D.O.B: June 10, 1968 Texas State
The D.O.C. plays a monumental part to the west coast rap movement. A rapper from Ruthless Records, D.O.C. did most of his work behind the wheels of the greatest west coast rap vehicle driving gangsta rap into the 21st century. An integral member of the N.W.A. crew and close friend of Dr. Dre, he became the catalyst for the continued creativity of gangsta rap and G-Funk explosion.
Born in Texas, Tracy moved to Compton, California to later split from existing mid-west group, The Fila Fresh Crew to join the talented force of Compton’s home grown Ruthless Records. With Eazy-E signing up World Class Wreckin’ Crew’s Dr. Dre, DJ Yella and C.I.A.’s Ice Cube for the super group, N.W.A. D.O.C. was busy working on his own project for the label. His first break came when Ice Cube briefly departed from the group just before the launch of their début, N.W.A. & The Posse in 1986. D.O.C. became the ghost writer for the group with Dre and Yella producing tracks.
Soon after, with Cube returned, Eazy had released N.W.A.’s début Straight Outta Compton. Eazy immediately after released D.O.C.’s first album, No-One Can Do It Better produced by Dr. Dre with hit track, ‘Funky Enough’ débuting fifth on the billboard’s Top Rap Single that year. His lyrical content went against the grain of the trend of Californian gangsta rap albums emerging, with a distinct east coast style behind Dr. Dre’s revolutionary production shadow with hints of rock and reggae influences streaming throughout the LP. No-One Can Do It Better is considered a collector’s classic today.
By late 1989 at the peak of Ruthless’ dominance on the west coast The D.O.C. suffered immeasurable injuries from a car accident and was consequently hospitalised with his vocal cords severed as a result. This would prove to be an insuperable hindrance for his continued career as a rapper. It was while in hospital where D.O.C. first met a talent scout working for Tom Kline (then sports agent) fascinated with getting into the music industry. The talent scout was a hulking figure from the same streets of Compton as his Ruthless label mates named Marion ‘Suge’ Knight. He showed a dedicated concern for the emerging west coast rap star, driving his mother up to see him occasionally and using the visits to win over his business as manager, citing that Eazy-E and co-owner of Ruthless, Jerry Heller were duping him out of due royalty payments for ghost writing on N.W.A. tracks. Suge displayed what would famously be his business acumen of pouncing on the vulnerability of discontented artists like a hunter to limping prey.
Suge soon started to orchestrate autograph signing appearances. He effectively acted as protection for D.O.C. As very few rappers were as tough as they portrayed, D.O.C.’s album hit the charts and gave him a local celebrity, making him prime target for gang-bangers who sort credibility by beating up or jacking a rapper. D.O.C. recalled in an interview of a time he stepped outside a club with Suge at his side when he was confronted by a gang-member with intent to harm the rapper, “Some nigga run up on me like he was fixin’ to hit me in the jaw. Suge just tore his ass up, I mean he broke him down to his component parts.” It was apparent Suge was using D.O.C. as a vehicle to get closer to his companions from N.W.A. and the Ruthless Records artists, most importantly shining star Dr. Dre. Foreseeing the conclusion of N.W.A. Suge wanted to be first in line to pick up the wandering talent for what he had later planned, a super west coast record label. At the period of 1991-2 as Dre and D.O.C. fought with Ruthless Records over financial compensation, he was fighting a hard battle out of contract. It was D.O.C. who introduced Dre to Suge for his help. Again exploiting Dre at his most vulnerable he went in to the offices of Ruthless Records with the purpose of releasing Dre, D.O.C. and several others from their contractual ties to Eazy’s company. After a strenuous season of continual abuse and terrorizing of Ruthless staff, Suge finally intimidated Eazy-E with two menacing Compton Piru Blood gang members wielding lead piping standing behind E as Suge threatened his mother’s life and told him they had Jerry Heller bound and gagged in a van outside the building. The Compton street tactics worked. A host of artists were released alongside D.O.C. and Dre from Ruthless Records. Suitably impressed with the immense power of this protection, Dre followed D.O.C. and Suge into the new period of gangsta rap.
Suge at this stage had already put the wheels in motion of an entrepreneurial pursuit of a record label, ‘Funky Enough Records’ signing Compton native and active Piru Blood rapper David ‘DJ Quik’ Blake, and artist, Chocolate who was commissioned with the ghost writing for the tracks of Robert ‘Vanilla Ice’ Van Winkle whom Suge managed at the time. By 1992 when D.O.C. and Dre were finally released from Ruthless, Suge was in the company of Solar Records executive, Dick Griffey who offered the soundtrack to a movie, Deep Cover to Dre if he was freed from Ruthless. Suge had at this stage established a more beneficial contact to form Godfather Entertainment, parent company for ‘Death Row Records’ which was to be headed up by Dr. Dre. The D.O.C. worked alongside Dre on the project introducing new Long Beach talent, Calvin ‘Snoop Doggy Dogg’ Broadus. The D.O.C. remained a ghost writer for Dre and Snoop on their legendary début albums, The Chronic and Doggystyle. The D.O.C. was always looked after by both iconic rap stars as being the driving force behind their unprecedented fame and notoriety.
During the mid ‘90s The D.O.C.s voice had somewhat returned, although severely altered he considered a comeback to rapping. Dre was never convinced of his capabilities of returning to the mic, subsequently D.O.C. went down south to Atlanta. He recorded his sophomore album with producer Erotic D. The record Helter Skelter was released. The D.O.C. rapped in an almost demonic-like voice. As former ghost writer most of the lyrics were originally destined for an Ice Cube and Dr. Dre unreleased unification. Unfortunately his identity in the scene had faded with his voice and the album was not as successful as his début. While in Atlanta, The D.O.C. also made major contributions to MC Breed’s album The New Breed. After a major lawsuit with Death Row Records over royalties of penned tracks by D.O.C., Dr. Dre and The D.O.C. reconciled their differences, and once again became friends. D.O.C. was shown respect by Dre and Snoop touring with them on the ‘Up In Smoke Tour’ of 2000. Dr. Dre invited The D.O.C. to the 2001 recording sessions. D.O.C. brought his new protégé along, Six-Two (a Dallas rapper) who appeared on two of the final album’s songs.
In 2003, The D.O.C. released his third album The Deuce. The album was a collaboration of west coast superstars. Although The D.O.C. did not contribute many vocals to the record, appearances by Dr. Dre, Ice Cube, MC Ren, Snoop Dogg, Kurupt, and Nate Dogg made the album. His protégés, Six-Two, Cadillac Seville, and El Dorado are predominant throughout the album.
The D.O.C. is still a ghost-writer for several high-profile artists. It was reported that he is contributing lyrics to Dr. Dre’s forthcoming album Detox. It is commonly believed by most genre aficionados that had The D.O.C. not suffered his vocal cord injury he would be more readily considered a legendary lyricist in league with Rakim and KRS-One. Today he is very well received and widely respected as the shadow force behind the conglomerate dominance of west coast gangsta rap and one of the greatest ever lyricists. It’s just a shame he never received the open acclamation he deserved. However The D.O.C. is the silent living legend.
- 1989 No One Can Do It Better
- 1996 Helter Skelter
- 2003 Deuce