The story of D.O.C. is the story of how the music industry will take a man, pimp him for everything it can, and then kick him to the curb when there’s nothing left to make money on. In his teenage years, Tracy Curry started out his career as part of the Fila Fresh Crew in Dallas. By chance a visiting DJ named Andre Young was at one of their local shows, and recognized in him a talent for lyric writing and flow. The rest is history – Dre brought him back to Cali, and he ended up ghostwriting raps for N.W.A. members Dre and Eazy-E. Despite being constantly ganked by E for his publishing and royalties, D.O.C. stayed loyal to his close friend Young and eventually got his time to shine on “No One Can Do it Better.” It was magic on wax – Young on the beats, Curry on the raps, simultaneously putting Compton and Dallas on the map. D.O.C. was hard without being cartoonishly gangster, and smooth without being too crossover – yet his album was quickly certified gold and went down in hip-hop history as an undisputed classic. This classic quickly became tragic when the D.O.C.’s vocal chords were severed in a car crash on 11/11/89, an accident that nearly claimed the young star’s life as well.

Now let’s give the doctors and the surgeons credit – not only did they save his life, but they put his vocal chords back together so he would be able to speak again. Unfortunately, speaking and rapping aren’t the same thing. In his first career, D.O.C. had a mid-octave distinctive voice; you might have called it a cross between DJ Quik and Devin the Dude. In his second career, D.O.C. was left with a raspy voice that relegated him to guest appearances on album skits like N.W.A.’s “Don’t Drink That Wine” and Dr. Dre’s “The $20 Sack Pyramid.” Already pushed to the background once by the greed of Ruthless Records, Curry was once again in the uncomfortable position of penning hits for other people. Cruel fate took down a budding rap star just as he was about to shine.

D.O.C. already attempted one comeback – the 1996 album “Helter Skelter” released on Giant Records. Despite a lot of speculation that he had miraculously recovered his voice or had an additional surgery done to restore his speaking power, fans were dissapointed to discover he was still the raspy wino from N.W.A. skits. The songwriting ability never left Curry, but it was clearly a case of the spirit being willing while the flesh was weak. Not surprisingly, the album was a huge flop and little remembered today even by die-hard D.O.C. fans – who were probably stunned and surprised to see him make a SECOND attempt at a comeback with the release of the ironically titled “Deuce.”

There’s good news and bad news about this album – and the harsh reality is that they’re both the same thing – D.O.C. doesn’t rap much. In fact, a great deal of this album’s vocals are performed by 6Two, who gained fame as the pimpish rapper on Dr. Dre’s “Xxplosive” from the Chronic 2001. He’s got a lot more Southern in his drawl than D.O.C. had in his heyday, which works to his advantage in giving him a sound that turns heads and makes people take notice. Right away on “Big Dick Shit” featuring Nate Dogg it’s clear that the rapper is the star of this album:

“See me movin in slow mo’, cause I don’t dance
I ain’t tellin you hoes no mo’, let go my pants
I’m just tryin to let you know the reason I came
I’m just really tryin to lace you up on game
We party ’til we cain’t no more in this do-main
It’s yo’ world playgurl, so just do yo’ thang
Can’t nobody tell you who to sock it to
Shit, I don’t see nobody in here stoppin you
They like it when I do that – tell ’em to strip
I won’t even speak on what they do with they lips
DAMN, you look good the way you movin yo’ hips
Let yo’ backbone slip gurl, don’t even trip
Look at this nigga showboat — it’s what haters be sayin
I’m a macadamia nut, they think I be playin
I see me and you ain’t on the same page
Hey lil’ momma, later meet me backstage”

The one time 6Two really gets upstaged on this album is on an N.W.A. reunion cut simply titled “The Shit.” Jazze Pha sets ’em up while Ice Cube, MC Ren plus guests 6Two and Snoop Dogg knock ’em down – but it’s Ren that steals the show:

“Ren makin niggaz run and duck, hands on my balls
with The D.O.C. not givin a fuck, we bad luck
Here dick to suck – yo’ hoe can taste it
with The Villain DNA when she ready to chase it
I’m on another level than y’all
Niggaz 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, posted up
Hoes choked up, dig too bick
Bout to tear they throat up – Ren give a FUCK
You askin to get cut, Comp-town started this shit
So nigga what? We all fucked up!”

Otherwise, 6Two basically dominates the album – making the “Deuce” title much more appropriate, even though calling this a D.O.C. album as such is simply not true. He produces several tracks, lends writing duties (no surprise there) to a lot of the songs, but is limited to doing cameos and skits on what is ostensibly his own album. Still, you’re not going to complain when listening to tracks like the 6Two and U.P-T.I.G.H.T. duet “What Would You Do?,” the humerous “Gorilla Pympin’,” the Dr. Dre produced “Judgment Day” and Erotic’s smooth tracks on “Ghetto Blues” and “All in the Family” – the latter featuring newcomers El Dorado and N’Dambi. The most D.O.C.-esque track on the whole album is probably Jabourn and D.O.C.’s co-produced “1-2-3 (Critical Condition),” on which U.P.-T.I.G.H.T. spits a hyperactive furious flow that will make rap heads nostalgic for old school classics like “It’s Funky Enough” and “Grand Finale.”

“Deuce” is in effect the announcement of budding Southern rap star 6Two, a “Mentally Disturbed” rapper who flows equally well over funk beats from Dr. Dre and Jazze Pha. In fact, when you file this album away in your rap collection, you should list it under “6” instead of “D.” This sleight of hand is at first insulting to the listener, but just as quickly forgotten when listening to an album full of strong songs like the Organized Noize produced “DFW” featuring all of the album’s aforementioned stars and a guest appearance from Baby of the Big Tymers. The production is solid throughout, the rappers appearing in lieu of D.O.C. all shine, and ultimately this is more of a compilation album than a D.O.C. solo album. I ain’t complaining, just make sure that 6Two gets pushed to the next level when this album gets everyone open to his flow.

The D.O.C. :: Deuce
7.5Overall Score