Feature Stories

The D.O.C. Finally Gets the Homecoming Show He Deserves

The last time the D.O.C. performed in Dallas was back in December of 1989 at Fair Park. After working with N.W.A. and releasing a debut album that is an undisputed hip-hop masterpiece, it was a tragic homecoming show. Just a month earlier, the D.O.C. had severely damaged his vocal chords in a car accident and lost one hell of a powerful voice.

The D.O.C. had just spent two and a half weeks in the hospital and it was a miracle he could even stand on a stage. “The record company wanted me to go out and push the record,” he recalls. “But I couldn’t rap. It wasn’t me. It was the tape and they wanted me to lip synch.” He admits that he had to get completely trashed to gather enough courage to go on stage.

After the Dallas show, he performed in New Orleans the next night. “I had to get so inebriated just to get on the stage,” says the D.O.C. “I ended up passing out at both shows with the tape going.” It particularly bothered him that his father showed up to the Dallas performance and saw him in that state.

After those shows, the D.O.C. decided he was through performing. Dr. Dre had advised him against those two shows: “He said, ‘You should just give up rapping, bro. They think you’re the king now and you should go out like that.’” The D.O.C.’s plan was to try to make a living as a writer.

A quarter century after the D.O.C. lost his voice, it started to return a year and a half ago while he was “locked up in a drug and alcohol facility.” He was laying on a bunk, and when he yawned, a voice came out. “I tried to do it again,” he says. “I couldn’t. But every time I yawned it was involuntary.” He would try to hum, and when he yawned he would stretch it out to try to strengthen it.

Eventually, he was able to bring his voice back to some extent, using some effort. “Oh yeah,” the D.O.C. says, his voice suddenly going from raspy to smooth. “There it is, right there.” After being released, he held off on making any announcement about his voice. Not only that, but he discovered Justin Mohrle — then known as Love, JT and now known as Justus. “A week and a half after I met Justus,” he says. “Dre called me: ‘Say man, I need your energy.’” The D.O.C. says he made a couple demos with Justus and took them to Dre.

In August, the D.O.C. announced his newfound voice during a radio interview. People immediately began asking him about making a new record. “If Michael Jordan joined the league today would you expect him to go hit 50?” the D.O.C. asks. Right now he is just happy to be doing harmonies. “I don’t know what it’s going to be a year from now. But I know it’s moving and I’m moving with it.”
Last weekend, the D.O.C. performed on the West Coast in Irvine. He lip sang the performance. “I haven’t heard one negative thing,” he says. “Everybody’s so supportive. I don’t allow myself to get sucked into the ego part of it or feel bad because it’s not really me.” The D.O.C. also thinks there is a higher calling to these shows. “Miracles can happen,” he says. “For every person who’s ever had a real problem with substance abuse…” He shakes his head. “If I can do this, anyone can do anything.”

The Bomb Factory will roll out the red carpet for the D.O.C.’s show in Dallas and he is humbled by the local support. “Dallas is home,” he says. “I live in L.A. today, but I would much rather be at home. This is where my family is and where my friends are. Living in L.A. is like being at work 24 hours a day.”

The performance will be a mixture of lip synching and his vocals. “All the old songs I can’t,” he says. “But I’m doing new songs here that have never been performed.” He loves it when teenagers on Twitter enthusiastically tell him their parents played his music. “I know that my music is of a time that’s gone by,” says the D.O.C.

“Music has evolved, but I’m all about being in the new school,” he adds. He will perform two new songs he wrote last week specifically for this Dallas performance. One of the songs, “Naked,” has a very old-school hip-hop vibe. But the other song, “Everything,” has a different sound. “It’s a new feel,” he says. “It’s about right now. It’s filled with truth and honest pain.”

And the support for the D.O.C. at The Bomb Factory this weekend is not just local. “Snoop says he’s coming,” he says. He also says Kurupt and Tha Chill from Compton’s Most Wanted plan to attend. “All these people want to come so they can support. It’s a bug-out to see the wave of appreciation for me. It’s cool, because I was nervous as shit.”

There will be filming at the show for an upcoming documentary on the D.O.C. The film is in the early stages of development, but he would like for it to come out alongside a new album. “I’m going to do some new songs,” he says. “Then I’m going to get people like Snoop and Justus and this person and that person.” His idea is to have several of his favorite artists record renditions of new and old songs he wrote.

But the D.O.C. is serious about moving back to Dallas. “Everything we need to be great is right here,” he says. “I’m tired of coming and picking these guys up and taking them back out there. Dallas has to invest in itself.” He says he can go to L.A. and make a record for cheap because they know him and what he is capable of, but that doesn’t happen here. “Everybody has to come together.”

For now, the D.O.C. is in truly great spirits. His show at The Bomb Factory Saturday is a proper homecoming gala decades in the making. And he enjoyed the recently released Straight Outta Compton film. “Was it a hundred percent accurate?” he asks. “No. But I support those guys and their vision, one thousand percent. And they put me in it, from the very beginning until the end.”
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Jeremy Hallock