Exclusive: The pen behind almost an entire sub-genre speaks with unflinching candor about the end of his work with Dre, and several other shocking revelations about Suge Knight, N.W.A. and Rap history.
The best emcee to ever don an L.A. Kings cap, The D.O.C., spoke exclusively to HipHopDX late last month (courtesy of his new PR representation, Hoopla Media Group) and proceeded to give the most revealing interview of his over 20-year career.
In the first published portion of D.O.C.’s discussion with HipHopDX, the author of the awe-inspiring album No One Can Do It Better (and large portions of other certified classics, including Eazy-Duz-It, Straight Outta Compton, 100 Miles And Runnin’ and Efil4zaggin) revealed that his pen-for-hire work for Dr. Dre has finally ceased, after a total of over 18 years spent constructing quotable verses for Eazy-E, N.W.A., Snoop Dogg and several other notable names that have walked the halls over the years at Ruthless Records, Death Row Records and Aftermath Entertainment.
Now in the remaining portion of The D.O.C.’s jaw-dropping Q&A, the ultimate insider to the history of the genre commonly referred to as Gangsta Rap breaks down his history with the likes of Suge Knight, Jerry Heller, Ice Cube, and maybe most notably, Eminem (who recently made a special request of the man whose aggressive flow on 1989’s “The D.O.C. & The Doctor” provided the prototype for Marshall Mathers’ truculent tone).
The man who was Snoop Dogg before Snoop Dogg, Game before Game, also elaborates on the dissolution of his longstanding professional relationship with Dr. Dre, providing previously unpublished details about how their “Formula” finally became toxic.
A little lengthy, but a must-read for anyone familiar with the role the simultaneous southern star and west coast forefather played in the careers of almost every artist to ever record to a Dr. Dre track, the following transcript documents one of the most influential emcees in Hip Hop history baring his soul in his “Against All Odds” moment.
Below is the truest shit The D.O.C. has ever spoke.
HipHopDX: I recently did an interview with Sir Jinx, and he revealed that you’re currently working on a documentary. So what exactly is the film about?
The D.O.C.: The whole Ruthless [Records break-up to Death Row Records creation] story is really just patches. It’s bits and pieces of the truth. None of these people really know what happened because I haven’t said anything yet. Most of the guys that are in-the-know aren’t saying [what really happened] because it benefits them not to say it. The truth as it is in the world now, it makes them look good. Which is cool, I’m not really – that shit never really bothered me. Because, when I lost my voice I didn’t mind playing the background, not necessarily being the guy who got the publicity or the this or the that. But, after 20 years it’s become time to really let the cat out of the bag, because if I don’t, no one will.
They were talking about doing an N.W.A. movie for a minute, and I knew off top that that shit could never happen. Number one, none of those muthafuckas really get along with each other good enough to do shit. And number two, everybody wants to tell a fraction of the story from their own perspective. And none of that shit coulda been true, because first off I wasn’t even in the movie. And you couldn’t have had N.W.A. like you had N.W.A. had I not left Dallas and came to California and helped those guys build songs. That’s just the facts. You wouldn’t of had it like that; you couldn’t of had it like that. [Dr.] Dre wouldn’t of had the career he had.
You actually would’ve never had Death Row had I not been in California. Because, Suge [Knight] wasn’t my bodyguard but he…rolled with me. It wasn’t him and Dre that got together and said, “Hey, let’s do this.” It was Dre and I that got together and said, “Hey, let’s do this.” Unfortunately, it was right after that [car wreck I was in] and I was going through a really hard time, really trying to come to grips with what had been taken away. So, I was just being a fuck-up. But, I wasn’t being such a fuck-up that I couldn’t pull Dre over here and say, “Look, nigga, this is what you need to do. This is what we need to do. Look at what [Eazy-E’s] doing to me. If he’s doing it to me, he could be doing it to you.” … So he and I got together with Suge and this other cat, [Dick Griffey of SOLAR Records], and we all started making plans. Unfortunately, I started falling deeper into the wrong shit, down the wrong hole. And even though I was putting in a majority of the money and a gang of the work to make that shit happen, when it all came down to bare fruit I just wasn’t able to grab my apples off the tree. ‘Cause my mind was somewhere way somewhere else.
That plus the fact that Dr. Dre was always somebody that I trusted, that I thought that even if I can’t watch my own back, Dre’s gonna watch my back. And that’s not to say that Dre’s not a great guy…he’s just not me. Like, if the situations were reversed, I couldn’t be him and he’d be me. ‘Cause it’s not in my character. My nature is sort of that of a giving cat. So, there’s no way that he and I can be in the same situation reversed.
When it comes to making music, those guys [in N.W.A.] didn’t know how to build songs back then. For lack of a better [description], they was just kinda street guys. And even though it was street music, music is like writing a book, it has to have a beginning, a middle and an end.
The documentary is a journey over these past 20 years. I’m going to let you guys see all the drama, all the bullshit, from the inside. I’ma give you an interesting story, that nobody knows about. When I first got to California, back in fuckin’ ’88, maybe ’87, I was sitting in the studio and playing at this little piano that was in this studio called Audio Achievements – where we did all the early N.W.A., Eazy-E shit. I was playing at this little piano and Eazy asked me if I wanted to go to this meeting. And to make a long story short, Eazy was [implying] that he was into this devil worshipping shit. … Now, I’m a young kid from Texas. I don’t know shit about gang banging, ‘cause the shit hadn’t happened in Dallas at that time. I don’t know shit about the streets really. And I damn sure don’t know shit about no muthafuckin’ devil worshipping. So, you can just imagine, I sat there at that piano kinda frozen. I acted like I didn’t even hear the shit that he was saying. He was talking about he wanted me to go to some meeting, and man, I played like I didn’t hear nothing that muthafucka said and kept doing what the fuck I was doing. … But, just that in itself can show you the kind of mind fuckery that was going on throughout those years, when I was just there trying to be creative. I found out later that it was just game [from Eazy-E]. It was game gone too far. Because I was so far ahead of these niggas, that the only way that they could keep me under thumb was to run super game on me. So now I don’t know, do I need to ask somebody about my money or is the devil gon’ come get me? I don’t know. I’m 18, I don’t know what the fuck to do. I just know I wanted to be the best muthafuckin’ rapper, and I seemed to be heading in that direction.
Here’s the plan [going forward for] what I wanna do: there’s a doctor in Florence, Italy. His name is Paolo Macchiarini – world-renowned transplant specialist. This is D.N.A. medicine we’re talking about. In other words, he uses stem cells. He’s already done two operations similar to the one that would be necessary to do to get me my voice back. One on a woman’s windpipe, and one in the area of the voice box called the larynx. There’s actually a woman in northern California I believe who just had that surgery, but it wasn’t D.N.A. because that’s not available [in the United States]. … I know it worked for her [though], because she had cancer [that] totally destroyed her voice box and they transplanted her a new one and now she can talk. What’s going on with Macchiarini in Italy [is D.N.A. medicine] and what they did for [a woman] was, they took master stem cells from her body, from three different points in her body, in a laboratory and they re-grew the windpipe from her stem cells. … It’s some real Star Trek shit. It’s so far beyond what they do in the United States that it’s really hard to believe that they could do shit like that.
[Writer’s Note: The portion of Q&A presented below picks up at the point in D.O.C.’s discussion with DX following the portion of Q&A presented in his previous news feature.]
The D.O.C.: But if [Dr. Dre] don’t [drop Detox] this year, then you gon’ have to quit lying. Cut that shit out.
DX: Yeah, it’s turned into what Axl Rose did with Chinese Democracy. You wait too long and then…
The D.O.C.: Then it’s fucked up. So now, the only thing that’s left is the story. And the only reason that y’all ain’t got the story yet is ‘cause I haven’t told it. Those guys can’t tell the story because they didn’t write it. I did.
Eazy-E didn’t even have a name really until right before I got to California. When “Boyz-N-The Hood” was made, the guy didn’t really even have a name. When I first got to California, [after Dr. Dre] called me in Texas and told me to come to California – [Dre said], “Nigga, we could be rich, if you just lived out here.” Well, shit, a broke-ass nigga from West Dallas, Texas, that’s all you had to say, I’ll be there in a minute. Borrowed whatever I could, and got my ass [out] there – slept on muthafucka’s couches. At first, [Dre] was planning on being my deejay. Because, Hip Hop was still so New York back then. It hadn’t made it to the west yet. But after we did Eazy’s [album, Eazy-Duz-It], Dre was like, “Eh, I don’t know about that deejay shit.” They hadn’t even done the N.W.A. album yet. But Eazy-E’s [single, “Boyz-N-The Hood”] took off so fast, he saw the future of the N.W.A. movement. And I can’t blame him. “Nigga, go get ya money.” ‘Cause I’m thinking, when I put this record out I’ma show y’all muthafuckas how to really rap around this bitch.
I was really arrogant back then. I used to tell them muthafuckas all the time, “If it wasn’t for me, y’all niggas wouldn’t have shit!” Which may be why niggas is trying to shit on me now, because payback is a muthafucka.
Once they got through with [recording Straight Outta Compton], it was pretty easy to see that that shit was outer space. But Eazy was fuckin’ niggas early in the game. [Ice] Cube saw that shit very early, and boned the fuck out. … If I wasn’t up there [at Ruthless] what the fuck would they have done? You wouldn’t have a muthafuckin’ Niggaz4Life record, who was gonna write it? And Eazy still fucked me on that record! But I’m a 19-year-old, 20-year-old kid, I don’t know no fuckin’ better. I’m up there with Dre. And Dre knew better. And he coulda did better. “Say man, is Eazy fucking you or something? You got to do something, dog. Don’t just let me be out in the wind like that. I’m giving you life, nigga.” Maybe it was a Texas [vs.] L.A. [divide], and them niggas really didn’t give a fuck about nothing except the skills that I had at that time.
But I refused to believe [those rumors about Dre’s sexual orientation], ‘cause me and Dre, we spent every day together. All his dirty laundry, I know all of that shit. Everything! [Laughs] And you ain’t heard me talking shit about the dude, ‘cause I don’t want him to look bad to nobody. I got love for him. I don’t ever want him – Matter fact, I used to get mad at him ‘cause I always wanted more for him than he did.
The actual name “Death Row” came from me. I actually wanted to call the label “Def Row,” ‘cause in my mind Dre was what Russell Simmons was to the east …. That’s how important he was. And then one of the other artists, a female named Jewell, she was like, “Wow, that’s cool, Death Row.” I was like, “Nah, Def Row.” And Dre was like, “Nah, nigga, Death Row ….” And then with all these thug-minded-ass muthafuckas around…it didn’t take long before that’s just what that was.
It was a dirty time. And if you really had a movie about that shit, it would fuck you up – from the beginning of Ruthless all the way through to the end of Death Row, and it showed the kind of niggas that could manipulate [Tupac’s] death. I know.
DX: You know…what happened?
The D.O.C.: I know if he is. I know if Suge is the kind of nigga that could manipulate that. I know. I know everything.
[Even through everything], I still have no contempt for Eazy. Or Dre. Or Suge. Or none of these niggas. ‘Cause, it’s really none of their faults that I went through the shit I had to go through. It’s a G-O-D thang, it’s not a D.O.C. thang.
DX: So how much do you plan to present in this documentary? … How much of this do you really wanna rehash 20-plus years later?
The D.O.C.: Well, for me, it’s not really about the negative aspects of the story. What happened to me, you know, boo hoo, that was for Doc [to go through]. I just think the story is really neat. I think it makes a really cool story. [But] if you’re gonna tell it, tell that bitch right. I’m not afraid to shine a light on my fuck-ups. So by that same token, I shouldn’t be afraid to shine a light on your fuck-ups either – especially if it’s a part of the same story. If you fucked up, goddamn’t then you should have to deal with it the same way I did. And if nothin’ else, prove to another generation of young muthafuckas how to do it better than we did it.
I don’t think ‘Pac or [the Notorious B.I.G.] ended up the way that they shoulda ended up. I don’t think it shoulda went like that. [All] because greed, money and power went too far with niggas that don’t really have any money. Having a million dollars ain’t no fuckin’ money. These is muthafuckas [in power] running around here with multiple billions of dollars, that can buy and sell you…at a heartbeat, as if you were a slave. They can do that.
Muthafuckas was trying to get me to look at this video where Puff Daddy in drag – they supposed to be faggots. And everybody worship the devil, and all this ol’ shit. Now I was around Dr. Dre for fuckin’ 20 years, if that muthafucka is suckin’ dick, then something ain’t right. ‘Cause I ain’t seen no parts or pieces of none of that shit. And I was there the whole time. Ain’t no way you can be gay and get that shit past me. So, when they started selling that [story] so heavy, then I know that it’s just media gone crazy, sensationalizing bullshit.
So if anything, I want to tell the shit and make it pure, make it a beautiful story: the operation overseas…and getting that voice back. [I want to make the movie] if not just to travel the country, going to different colleges and talking to these kids about what’s really good, about what’s really positive and really beautiful about this music and this culture. To me, [that] is a hell of a happy ending.
DX: You know what you gotta do in this documentary; you have to put a high quality version of the “I Hate To Go To Work” video in there. [Laughs]
The D.O.C.: [Laughs] That’s funny. That is funny. That was my Fresh Prince days. If [Will Smith] ever reads this, it’ll fuck him up: I can remember when I was in that group, the Fila Fresh Crew, and I was opening up [a show for DJ Jazzy Jeff & The Fresh Prince]. And he had these dancers. It was two guys, and this one bow-legged girl. And they were wearing…spandex. This is when those things were in style. And Fresh Prince was on stage. He was rippin’. I had just opened it up. And the crowd was goin’ nuts. But they didn’t go nuts when I was up there. And in my opinion, I was better than everybody. So I was off feeling bad. And the little bow-legged girl was like, “Baby, don’t worry, you gon’ get your chance.” I thought that shit was so sweet that I never forgot that.
DX: We been talking here for about an hour. I got like a gang of questions: old school stuff …. How much further do you wanna go though?
The D.O.C.: Dog, you can ask whatever you want while you got me.
DX: In the video for “It’s Funky Enough” there’s a baby-faced Ice Cube not looking exactly thrilled to be there. [Laughs] Was Cube a little salty that The D.O.C. was getting his solo shot before he could?
The D.O.C.: Nah. Hell nah. We was all together then. Now, this is some foul shit, but in the early N.W.A., way before I got my chance, whenever these guys did interviews, whenever they took pictures, whenever they did videos, they went out of they way not to let me in ‘em. If you go back you’ll never see me in none of ‘em. They wouldn’t let me in ‘em. They didn’t want me there, I think because they didn’t want muthafuckas to know that they wasn’t writing they own shit. If you go back to they old interviews, [when] the interviewers would ask them muthafuckas questions they would look fuckin’ dumbfounded. Because, the questions that they were asking the muthafuckas was about lyrics that I wrote for ‘em. Only Cube really understood I think what the aim was. Dre did sonically. But Cube understood what we was trying to aim for. That’s why his subsequent albums were in that same vein.
DX: Let me take it back to “It’s Funky Enough” …. Is this story true that you were just fuckin’ around when you spit that now classic Jamaican patois delivery, and that was just one take?
The D.O.C.: That was one take. They used to call me “One Take Willie.” We started that. Kurupt is the only other muthafucka to do that. … I had begged Dre to make that beat [using Foster Sylvers “Misdemeanor”]. It took me about three fuckin’ months of begging him to make that beat before he finally made it. And those lyrics were actually meant for another song, but I didn’t have no words for that beat yet. So when I went in, I was just gonna lay something so he could finish adding the instrumental shit into the track. And when the beat came on, it just sounded Jamaican. So that’s the character that came out. And I just spit that shit. Muthafuckas kept motioning me to keep going, so I did. At the end of that I was like, “Well I can do it better.” Dre was like, “Fuck that! I’m not changing none of that shit.”
DX: I gotta ask though, do you think “The D.O.C. & The Doctor” was your best vocal performance on the album? I think it’s still crazy to hear you go toe-to-toe with that electric guitar from Funkadelic’s “Good Old Music.”
The D.O.C.: I think that was my best Run [from Run-DMC] impression. Run was my hero. And the “diggy, diggy” thing came from him. So, it’s apropos that his son is named Diggy [Simmons]. And, I listened to young Diggy’s record and he’s got me all in it: from my raps to my cuts. So it’s all in the family. “D.O.C. & The Doctor” was my best attempt to try to be Run. As an artist all I wanted to be was Run. When they did the movie Krush Groove and he got mad at his brother, and went on stage and he said “It’s my muthafuckin’ house,” that was me. I was that nigga. … Well yeah, I do believe that “The D.O.C. & The Doctor” was my strongest vocal performance, you right. I put everything into that record.
DX: It’s just your range, man, your range was – It’s like, Rakim had his lane, [Big Daddy] Kane could do a little bit more, but damn’t The D.O.C. could do anything.
The D.O.C.: Now how fuckin’ freaky would it be if I can go over here to Europe and come back with that power? C’mon man, that’s some Hip Hop shit that nobody else but me could do. You’d have to walk in these shoes to pull off some shit like that. And just one record with that old voice would make all of the shit that I had to go through, it would make that shit worthwhile.
DX: I don’t wanna rehash the more treacherous parts of the history, but [Ice Cube’s] “No Vaseline,” was that Cube just taking advantage of the situation, that there wasn’t a 100% D.O.C. to snipe back at him and give him some “Ether” to his “Takeover”?
The D.O.C.: Nah, man, because that wasn’t – he didn’t say anything about me. He wasn’t talking about me; he was talking about [N.W.A.]. And it wasn’t my place to say nothing. If I was smart, I’da followed his lead. [I] saw that it was fuckery going on [at Ruthless], but I was being led by Dre. I was there with Dre. I didn’t know Eazy like that. I didn’t know the business. All I know is I wanted to be around Dre’s production, because I knew it was better than everybody else’s.
DX: So was it before or after the accident that you realized “the super-dope manager” [Jerry Heller] wasn’t so super-dope? [Laughs]
The D.O.C.: It was after that. I had to go into the hospital for a month or so. And, when I got charged back for all of that time – [Ruthless] had charged me double …. It’s called cross-collateralization. The monies they used to pay me with, they had already made [publishing] deals and gotten that money. My publishing was never my publishing, because it was always their publishing. So the monies that they were paying me…was money that they had already gotten from something else. It’s like if I take a dollar, and I give you a dime of that dollar. Somebody gives me a dollar and says it’s for an article you wrote, and I give you a dime of that dollar, and I tell you it’s for that article you wrote. But I’m gonna take back a nickel of that dime for all the time that was spent writing that rap. That’s what they were doing.
DX: That’s not what Jerry Heller wrote in his book, [Ruthless: A Memoir]. I was just on Google Books – you can skim through his book to see all the mentions of D.O.C. – and boy oh boy, he was apparently Santa Claus to you. He bought you your first house, and he got you your first doctor, that woulda rehabbed your voice but you didn’t wanna go to the rehab. He was just so generous, man. He did a lot for you – in his book. [Laughs]
The D.O.C.: Well I tell you what, nobody asks Jerry [Heller] where he got the money from to do all that wonderful shit he did. Where did he get all that money from? It had to come from somewhere. And to this day, I don’t own the publishing to any of those records. Not even from my own record. That’s sad but true. So if there’s anything I can do for today’s kids – especially the next muthafucka that’s as talented as I was – don’t live my life, nigga. It’s fucked up. Be better than me.
Watch this story, see how cold this muthafucka was. He was a little arrogant, may have been a bit of an asshole. … I like to tell people I was Tupac before Tupac was Tupac. ‘Cause before Tupac was running up in clubs and spittin’ on muthafuckas and slappin’ bitches on the ass, I was stuck in the girls bathroom all night at clubs. And wouldn’t nobody come fuckin’ pull me out. [Laughs] ‘Cause Suge was standing outside the door. And I wanted to be where the hoes was, fuck the club. I know sooner or later they gotta come in here. So I would go post up. And some of ‘em liked it, some of ‘em didn’t, but nobody fucked with me. Suge would stand outside that door all night. Oh I was something terrible.
DX: How did you actually meet Suge?
The D.O.C.: There’s a [keyboardist] named L.A. Dre [who worked at Ruthless]. I stayed with L.A. Dre’s brother in Compton for the first month [after] I moved to California…right behind the high school called Centennial, [where the Piru Bloods formed in 1972]. It’s an all Blood neighborhood out there. And I got my first gang bang story. It’s kinda funny. I’m not gonna share it with y’all; I’ma make y’all wait for the book ‘cause it was some crazy shit. But my first gang bangin’ experience was there. And Suge was L.A. Dre’s brother. Not his real brother, but that’s how they talked about [each other]. Like me and [Dr.] Dre; like Dre is my brother. Well, that was his brother, so I started hangin’ around with this dude. And because I was so much better than everybody else [at Ruthless], I was 19 years-old and these guys would take me into the clubs, and they would get me pussy, I mean, it was just crazy. They was blowin’ my mind, so I thought I was really fuckin’ God’s gift around this bitch. It was a lot to take, and I really started actin’ up.
But it was Eazy that would act up when Suge was with me, because nobody wanted to fuck with that dude. And if they did wanna fuck with him, then it would be on. I think Suge and I got kicked out of every [club] – no, not kicked out, we got banned from every fuckin’ club in Hollywood. We’d go in, I’d see some female, and then I’d go right up and slap her on her ass. And if she turned around and said something slick, I’d put her on her ass. Or, if she had a guy and she said something slick, I’d put him on his ass. And then me and Suge would be in the club fighting four or five niggas. And [so] after awhile [club bouncers] would see us coming and they’d be like, “Nooo. Hell nah! Y’all muthafuckas ain’t coming in here tonight!” It was fuckin’ wild then.
DX: But did you believe that this roughneck guy was gonna be able to really run a business? Did you see him in that way, or is that just how he saw himself?
The D.O.C.: Well, when the Future Shock thing first kicked off – Like I said, it was 35% to me, 35% to [Dr.] Dre, [15% to Suge and] 15% to a cat named Dick Griffey – who had ran a company called SOLAR, [Sound of Los Angeles Records], for quite some time. And had hit records with a lot of groups…before Rap got big in L.A. So, we were gonna use his knowledge. The guy passed away maybe six months ago. He died of a heart attack. And we were gonna use his knowledge. But, I came to find out later on that Dick Griffey was just Suge of his day. I mean, so those guys already had they plan set up [to X me out of the label’s formation].
Dre and I went and got a million dollar publishing deal, and we used that money to make The Chronic. I ended up owing a shitload of taxes for that money, even though I never got no money from Death Row. I mean, nothing.
The D.O.C.: Dog, all I’ve ever done in my whole life was survive. I came from not having shit, so not having shit never really [scared me]. I stayed with [Dr.] Dre from the time [after I stopped staying with L.A. Dre’s brother up until I left Death Row in 1994]. I always knew that I could never be totally left out – as long as Dre had a fuckin’ mansion with five or six rooms in it, I had a room. I was gonna be able to eat good. I was gonna always be able to have what I wanted, what I needed, ‘cause it was always gonna be around. And like I said, by that time the drugs was coming around so business was the furthest thing from my mind.
All I wanted to do was be drunk, and be high. And talk shit to everybody, which I did, all the time. [Laughs] I would show up to meetings totally fuckin’ inebriated, and blow the meetings up, with Dre and Suge and – So at some point I don’t blame those dudes for being like, “Wow, this dude is losing it.” He’s not gonna be able to take care of [his issues].
DX: Is that when you left Death Row after Doggystyle? I mean, did they want you to leave, or did you leave voluntarily?
The D.O.C.: I wrote a song. Dre started working on an album. He wanted to work on an album with [Ice] Cube, and it was supposed to be called Helter Skelter. And he gave me all of these books to read – apocalyptic books. He wanted me to get started for him. So I did. And I wrote this one song which I really liked…and when I played it for him, he immediately wanted to take it. And, those kind of things just hurt. I [got] tired of putting all of the work in but not being able to benefit, not being able to even get the love from it from the fans. These guys never told muthafuckas how hard I was working. You never knew that I put so much work into [“Nuthin’ But A ‘G’ Thang”]. You just saw me in the video and assumed I guess, Well, Doc, he must’ve been doing something. But I was sweating on that muthafucka just as much as Snoop [Dogg] and Dre.
DX: Would you ever reveal which verses for Snoop you penned on The Chronic and Doggystyle, or is that gonna stay private?
The D.O.C.: You know, number one, you can’t – well nah, let me take that lie back ‘cause I did write some of the shit, but very little. What I did was, like I told you before, Snoop would write a rap – this is in the early days; this is when he moved in [and was] staying with me in my house. The house that Jerry Heller was so nice enough to buy. And [so Snoop], he’d write a rap and he’d come upstairs, and I’d say that, “This part is good. This part ain’t good. Take these lines out. Try to replace them with this stuff over here.” That’s the way I helped Snoop. I helped him find out how to write a song. But by the time he got to Doggystyle, he was on cruise control. If you look at the video for the song “Deep Cover,” you’ll understand what I mean by Snoop had to be seasoned and groomed into the [star] that y’all see today. ‘Cause when you look at the “Deep Cover” video, you see a kid who’s – and even the “G Thang” video – you see a kid that’s unsure. He doesn’t have the confidence to even look in the camera and give it to you yet. Because he’s not quite sure yet, even though all I [did] is pump into him everyday, “If I can’t be the shit, nigga, you’re gonna be the shit. If I can’t be that one, you’re gonna be that one.”
And that’s why Doggy Dogg love me, and his wife loves me to this day. ‘Cause I put a lot of love into that guy. And if I called Snoop, chances are Snoop would pick up the phone and give me what I ask for. But pride is a muthafucka. And I’ve always waited for Dre to be my nigga. Because it makes the story so much better – everybody expects [us to work together forever] …. And the more muthafuckas that really know [the story] they like, “Wow, that makes me lose love for Dre.” And I don’t want that. That’s what I don’t want.
DX: What actually led to you going back to Dallas [recently]?
The D.O.C.: The same thing that made me leave Death Row in the first place. When Doggystyle came out and they wanted to move to, “Now we’re gonna start working on the album with Ice Cube,” and I’m thinking, I’m putting [in] all this energy, this effort, but I can’t see how I’m going to win. How is this going to feed a future family of mine? And Dre wasn’t giving me ideas…[like], Maybe you should do this. Or, at 500 million bucks, nigga, you could give me a job bringing the weed to the studio everyday and pay me a $100,000 a year and write that shit off.
DX: I thought he was doing that this whole time?
The D.O.C.: Bro’, when I tell you I ain’t seen nothing – from this person that I’ve been patiently waiting [on] – I’m not lying to you. … I love being a part of great shit. And whenever I was fuckin’ with Dre, that’s what we were making. Now, when we fucked around with 2001, he actually called me [in 1998] and asked me to come back: “I need you to come help me with this record.” And my love for Dre is strong, [so] nigga that’s all it took. I’m on the next bird, let’s go.
But, now we at a stage in the game where…it’s just ugly. If it ain’t right, the shit is wrong. We can’t continue to go down that path if it’s not going to be beneficial to both of us. And I don’t want to be a detriment to your program, because you got a lot of young soldiers that are dope as fuck. There’s a young nigga over there named Slim da Mobster, who is every bit of a cold-ass emcee. One of the better ones on the west coast if you ask me. And, I can’t give to him the way I gave to Snoop, because I’m not in a place where I feel I can give. In my mind I’m at a place where I feel like I should be getting. Now it’s time to get.
DX: Did you sit down with Dre and say, Look –
The D.O.C.: Never did that. That’s one thing I never did.
DX: Why not?
The D.O.C.: Because I thought that, “Nigga, you my brother. You supposed to see my pain. I’m around you every day.” I gotta be perfectly honest wit’chu, me and the good doctor, we sat down one night at dinner and we were talking, and our conversations were so far apart at that particular time that it was easy to see that we had to take some time apart. We weren’t seeing things eye-to-eye. The love was there, but not in a way it was supposed to be from my perspective. Maybe it was from his [perspective]. But like you said, I never sat down and said…I never told him what I’m telling you today. I just expected him to know it. And maybe I was wrong for that.
But, like I said, that’s my nigga and I love him to death. And I felt like if I called him and said blah, blah, blah he’d be there, but pride is a muthafucka.
DX: So are you expecting anything to change? I mean, if he reads this…
The D.O.C.: You know what? I’m really over here just interested at this point in Dre finishing what he gotta finish. His legacy is a lot more important than our argument. And it would be very selfish of me to not ride wit’ him after all of this time just because it didn’t work out a 100% in my favor. I want this dude’s record to come out, and I want him to win, and I want him to be everything I worked my ass off for him to be.
DX: But right now, with you not there, and just the way things are looking right now, he may very well fail.
The D.O.C.: Well, I wouldn’t put that in the air, ‘cause that’s my boy. And one thing that he’s always said is, “I ain’t been wrong yet.” That’s his favorite saying. “I ain’t been wrong yet, so ride wit’ me.” So, I gotta ride wit’ him.
His production skills are still unlike anybody else. His ears is still unlike anybody else’s. It’s just about finding that right message. The times have changed; the kids are on some different shit. You don’t have to be the hardest nigga on the street to be the hardest nigga on a record. And [you can] actually say some shit that means some shit and it touch more muthafuckas these days on the street level – especially coming from Dre. He’s the history of west coast Rap music. You take away Dre from west coast Rap and there is no west coast Rap.
DX: But that guy from Dallas, he had a lot to do with it.
The D.O.C.: You take away that cat from Dallas from Dre and you might not have no Dre. [Laughs] Nah, you’d have a Dre. He was way too good. That’s why I followed him so easy. I like to tell him that before the world knew he was great I knew it, and believed it. And he knew the same thing [about me]. He likes to joke and say when I drove that car off the freeway that I fucked off his money. Which used to really piss me off, to be honest wit’chu. Don’t say no shit like that, muthafucka. But, Dre’s got a really warped sense of humor and he meant it with love. What he was saying was, Nigga, we was supposed to make all kinds of money making music together. And it’s the truth. ‘Cause I understand that dudes production probably better than anybody else that’s ever been on one of his beats. … I understand what Dre means to do when he’s making those drums, the picture that he’s trying to paint. So I just write the words to fit the picture. The song ain’t really about me; the song has its own life. I’m just the muthafucka that wrote it.
And I gotta give kudos to Jay-Z, ‘cause he’s the only person that I’ve ever heard…say that the Rap artist is like an instrument. That our job is to find our place inside the beat where you don’t disturb the groove, and say whatever you gotta say. You know, play your horn. Don’t make muthafuckas not be able to bob their head to the drums [because they’re distracted by] what you got to say. That’s what makes Eminem so great. Eminem, he doesn’t miss a fuckin’ tick in the [beat]. He’s on every fuckin’ hit of the hi-hat.
DX: That must’ve been a little surreal when you met him …. Like, This dude? This guy? Really? [Laughs]
The D.O.C.: I was over Dre’s house. … And Dre says, “I got somebody I want you to hear.” And he played the record “I Just Don’t Give A Fuck.” And I was like, “Wow, this muthafucka is off the chain, Doc. You got you one.” Then he showed me the picture of him and I was like, “What?! Are you fuckin’ serious?! This muthafucka is great!”
DX: [Laughs] What’s Em think of [you]; was he paying homage when y’all met?
The D.O.C.: Last time I saw Eminem he had sent a CD of the No One Can Do It Better album to the studio for me to autograph and send it back to him.