Hip-Hop’s ever innovative Solid Records, home to artists like Edan, Louis Logic and Tragedy Khadafi has just broken ground on a whole new idea – a “Back to the Lab” album that never even made it out of the lab. Confused? It’s simple really. Dooley-O is one of hundreds of rap artists from out the 20th century archives who should have blown up and didn’t. While it’s true that every wannabe with a pen thinks that’s them, Dooley-O’s forgotten contribution to hip-hop has a unique twist. Those who remember a seminal 1980’s rapper named Stezo and his “Crazy Noise” album may not know Dooley-O was his cousin, but it goes deeper than that. Dooley WROTE the title track. Industry rule #4,080 comes into full effect. Sleeping Bag/Fresh Records and Stezo ganked Dooley – straight up gaffled him. Not only did they not credit him, they lifted his vocals straight up out the mix altogether. Fed up with being played both by the industry and his own family, Dooley dropped out of sight for more than a decade.
“Watch My Moves 1990” is so named because it’s literally the rough studio tapes from his recorded but unreleased debut album. An album Dooley-O nearly chucked all the master reels for in the trash. Whatever posessed him to save it though results in a 2003 release of an album that instantly sounds at home in the diaspora of early 90’s classics like EPMD’s “Business as Usual” and GangStarr’s “Step in the Arena.” Play this for your man, and he’s gonna nod his head and say, “That’s some fly old school shit.” Tell him it’s brand new, and he’s gonna think you flipped your wig. The best part is that you’re both right.
Now given these studio tapes were never polished up to a high gloss shine, the mix is a little rough in places. Taken with a grain of salt though, the essence of what’s there is still tasty. Dooley-O has the wit and charisma that would have put him right into every hardcore hip-hop mix of the day. In fact, these songs are 99% ready to be on Yo! MTV Raps; you can literally see Dooley-O macking with a fat gold chain and a Dapper Dan jacket in a video for “Watch My Moves.” It’s a shame the heads never got to peep it.
“I’m in the right and you’re in the wrong
So if you can’t get along, yo, let’s get it on
I’m the next runner up but yo, I ain’t runnin
Cause I wouldn’t, regardless, you gots nothin comin
against Dooley-O and Freddie Fly, the KGB’n
And I’ll be damned if I’m not emceein
I’m the original, raw crisp and critical
But on the strength tip, husky and physical
My rhymes fly mentally, you die instantly
And when I hurt you sucker, it be intentionally
So step off, and step into your room
Don’t watch me – watch what? Watch my moves!”
It might seem simplistic compared to what MC’s kick nowadays, but the fit for 1990 is just right – he’s certainly contemporary to anything kicked back in the day. It doesn’t take a huge stretch of the imagination to hear Lord Finesse flowing over “Headbanger’s Ball,” or Big Daddy Kane getting fly to “Let it Be Written.” However, tracks like “Slaughter Session” are pure Dooley-O – this one the tale of a rapper too crazy to be held back:
“Escaped from Bellevue now it’s time to get ill
And since I’m here YO, I got five minutes to kill
Ready to attack, get my mics and axe
Ready like Freddie; Friday 13th’s everyday look out black
Cause on the M-I-C I ain’t no joke
Make another whack record and I slice ya throat
And it’s a massacre, and my mic’s a chainsaw
Slice you away with a yes yes y’all”
Dooley-O’s not just a braggadocious rapper though, he’s also got some gems of knowledge to kick for the listener. On the song “Peace Sign” (with a very familiar old school beat) Dooley-O displays the Afrocentric pride that could be felt in Brand Nubian, BDP and X-Clan records of the day – a movement that got swept aside by gangsta rap but still sounds relevant herein:
“Red, black and green the Asiatic black man
The true man, but some still don’t understand
that bein black is a big challenge
For when you look upon the scale, who has the balance?
But I’ve seen a lower side of the scale
And if we don’t stop killin each other, we won’t prevail
No matter side of that mountain we climb
We’ll all get there, so listen to my rhyme
And my knowledge, that I spread to my people
So we can uplift the scale and make it equal”
Dooley-O’s “Watch My Moves 1990” is probably not meant for everyone. The label and artist both unabashedly admit that because this is an LP of unreleased tracks over a decade old, it may be too dated and too “dirty” for some. However, for the listener with an open mind and a fondness for spinning old records by Main Source and De La Soul, this Dooley-O album will fit perfectly. “Watch My Moves 1990” will give you the feeling that Red Alert is on the mix, that 3rd Bass is the hottest new rap sensation, and that beads and medallions are still in vogue. It’s a pleasant trip to the past; something brand new that’s old. If this record had been finished the right way and Dooley-O hadn’t been ganked, it would be a “Back to the Lab” classic today.