His story reads like a cautionary tale that stretches far beyond the realms of the hip hop music industry. It is a story of a man who has shared his extraordinary talents time and time again with the world and with his hip hop peers in a selfless manner and been overlooked for rewards and recognition that is rightfully his to bear, only to see them passed on to others to bask in glory. Don’t get it twisted, Tracy Curry aka The DOC is not a man who seeks acknowledgment, no, he is not in the hip hop game for that, but when you cast an eye back on his resume as one of the industry’s most slept on songwriters, producers and rap artist in his own right, one could be hard pressed to wonder why he has done so much and received so little recognition in return.
As one of the original members of 90’s iconic hip hop group N.W.A, Dallas born Curry arrived in the City of Angels with a focus on just doing what he was good at and what he loved, making honest hip hop with a cause with a brotherhood he loved. Originally beginning his career as a member of Dallas based hip hop group, Fila Fresh Crew, the group had four tracks featured on the compilation album N.W.A and the Posse, which was released in 1987. The same four tracks would later appear on the group’s album Tuffest Man Alive, released in 1988 with the group disbanded shortly after its release.
D.O.C was signed to Ruthless Records and wrote numerous lyrics for N.W.A’s debut album, “Straight Outta Compton”, Eazy-E’s debut, “Eazy-Duz-It” as well co-writing “Keep Watchin'” from Michel’le’s self-titled debut album, with all three albums produced by Dr. Dre. In 1989, The D.O.C. released his Dr. Dre-produced debut album, “No One Can Do It Better” and the album was very well received by critics. It sold well, peaking at number 20 on the Billboard 200 and went platinum, solidifying Curry as a sure fire hit in the communes of West Coast Rap. As life would have it and often does, what goes up must come down and with Curry as high up as the music Gods would allow, his life of superstar fame and rap star excess came to crushing blow as he emerged with critically damaged vocal chords after a horrific car accident in November of 1989 almost claimed his soul. Falling asleep behind the wheel, Curry’s car veered off the freeway and because he was not wearing a seat belt, he was thrown out of the rear window and slammed his face into a tree. His voice and life thereafter changed forever.
They often say you know who friends are when you are down, and for Curry, it was a continual life lesson learnt as he feel into a deep depression during his recovery process. The life and community he once felt so strongly connected to and was so loyal to, fell short of his reciprocation and the brotherhood he thought he could depend on left him where he laid, hurting from more than the lifelong scars that his accident caused him. The character of spirit of Tracy Curry is one to be admired as he is a man who is forgiving and giving, having been there for his NWA crew members after an accident and recovery that they turned their backs on, he held their brotherhood higher than what it was at the time, and has no regrets in doing so all these years later.
DOC is more than a survivor, he is a phoenix of spiritual proportions. The years of stolen credit for work he had done, no money paid for work he had done, and in industry support or acknowledgement for a period of hip hop history that was co –written by him is enough to make the toughest spirit succumb to anger and bitterness. For Curry, it fuelled the fire of personal growth and success on a higher level and has made him an individual who is above the trappings of fame and fortune, but one who walks in truth of a journey that is destined for greatness. He is a proud father of 4 ( his fourth baby, a son, is due to be born later this year ), he has created a comeback career that has seen him embark on international live speaking tours sharing his life’s journey with fans who want to know his truth, a forthcoming album and music and reality TV shows in the works and having made peace with his ex NWA brethren, wishing them continued blessings and success in their path of success and knowing that his was always meant to be go down a different path ….. And he is okay with that! Our conversation was one that has resonated deeply with me as there is so much that is human and real about what Tracy Curry speaks, his attitude is and always has been infectious and positive and his determination and belief in God and himself, well that just transcends the hip hop game entirely.
I am beyond blessed to have had a conversation with this legendary human and thank him so much for his continual voice, passion and ultimate contribution to our hip hop culture …. This is your time to shine Tracy Curry and walk a path that is authentically YOU!
Happy New Year DOC – how are you and how has 2016 been for you so far?
I’m doing fine Ms Hennessey and I hope you are doing fine as well. The New Year has started off really well for me, I have just moved back from LA to Texas and just found my girlfriend is pregnant with my second son so I am so happy, it’s really fricken cool.
Wow congratulations DOC that is amazing news. It is such an honour to finally get to chat with you – I was blessed enough to be able to catch your speaking tour in Sydney last year and man was it an education of the highest order for me. You have such an incredible, important and necessary history in hip hop and a story that is truly inspiring – do you ever sit back and think “how did I ever get through it all?”
Firstly, I am so thankful that the people in Australia were gracious enough to have me out there and listen to my journey, it’s a beautiful place and I really had such an awesome time there. It was a first for me to do this kind of tour and I thought it was really dope, the audience was really receptive and I really enjoyed doing it and some of the coolest things I noticed was that there were a lot of father and sons in the audience together and that was awesome to see them share that sort of love for the music and for the art that I created so that was something I really enjoyed.
You know what I am spiritual person and I believe everything happens for a purpose and I was actually thinking about this the other day, there are so many guys that are no longer here you know, Pimp C, Jam Master Jay, Eazy-E and Biggie Smalls, Tupac and all of these great artists and people who are no longer here and the fact that I am still here, there is a purpose for it and so I just try to recognize that purpose and do the right thing by it.
Looking back at your beginnings and your early days in Dallas Texas, knowing what you know now about the hip hop game and life in general DOC what do you think your advice would be to the younger version of Tracy Curry before he boarded that plane to LA all those years ago?
If I can tell that young dude anything it would be to know you’re worth son. You are special individual and if you know that then they will be hard pressed to take advantage of you because you love yourself enough to know what your worth is. I think I was just trying to prove to so many people that I was worth it and maybe even prove to myself that I was worth it, that I let people take things from me that really cost me in the long run, but like I said I am still here, I’m blessed and I got a new son on the way. I know that boy is going to be special and I will make sure that he knows his worth every day.
You were part of one of the most influential groups in hip hop history – NWA! You were instrumental in writing, creating and forming the basis of what that group was founded on yet as we went on to discover you never got the credit you deserved for all the writing and collaborating you provided on the NWA album and subsequent other projects you were to work on with Dr Dre following the groups demise. I remember being so shocked hearing you speak on your reality of being in NWA and at times felt a little robbed for you hearing of your experience yet being so amazing by your humility – how have you remained so humble in the midst of this storm for so many years?
Well I went through all of the emotions, trust me (laughs). I went through anger, resentment, frustration, depression all of it. But like I said to you earlier there are so many great artists that are no longer here with us, and I am still here, I realised I was so blessed that I had to let go of those feelings and find my own purpose before all of those bad feelings ate me up man. I had to look in the mirror and realise that God loves me because I am a good man, I’m a good person and I gave to that group because I wanted that group to succeed and the fact that they never gave back to me isn’t a testimony to them or me, I don’t look at it on those terms, I gave all I could for their success and I am happy for them, and now it’s time for me to give all I have to my success and hopefully things will turn out the same.
NWA is the playbook group given to the beginner hip hop lover and it is a story and journey that is bigger than hip hop at times. Now that the story has been immortalised as the hit movie “Straight Outta Compton”, what are your thoughts on how the history that you are a part of has been captured by Hollywood and the fact that your role in the movie was as small as it was given your role in reality being larger than life? Is this movie an important legacy for NWA?
I think that the people that produced that movie did it for financial gain and that the movie from that perspective , and I’m just speculating, it was a way for the guys who already have a shit load of money, to make another shit load of money and it worked. It premiered all over the world for which I wasn’t given one red penny you know but such is life. You know I enjoyed the movie, I thought it was great, was it honest? Hell no! But it was good. I never thought that when I was leaving Dallas Texas all those years ago, moving to LA that I would one day be a character in a movie so it has its pluses but it also has its minuses. I hope that one day in the future I get to share my side of the story for the fans as there was a lot of valuable information left out of this version and it would really help the younger generation coming up now. You know the music industry is a dirty business and you have to be prepared so the things we went through would really be important to show. This wasn’t a truthful account of what happened in the reality of what life was like being a part of NWA and if I have to the revolutionary to the buck the system and go out in front of the firing squad so to speak and be a martyr for the masses I don’t mind that at all because I always seen myself as the kind of person who cared about hip hop almost more that I care about myself so if I can be the one who can make these guys feel some of the pain that I went through during the last few years, as this is my history and story too, then so be it.
What are your thoughts on hip hop community today and where do you think it’s headed from a cultural aspect?
You know artists like J Cole and Kendrick Lamar are offering, in my opinion, a very bright future for hip hop art because they are being very honest and positive and conscious about what they are doing, as well as being really great artists. They are not just throwing crap out there to be sensationalised, they really are having an effect on our world socially and reflecting on the times we are living right now. We need to get a grip on ourselves and try to figure out how to better as a human family or we are all going to be screwed up. If the attitudes like Donald Trump are allowed to succeed in this world them my unborn son won’t even have a fucking world when it’s all said and done. It’s just going to be a world full of fear yet at the end of the day we are one human family striving to live good lives so I think hip hop right now, needs to be honest and positive and continue to speak the truths we need to hear and make people more aware.
Looking at your own solo rap career you were an artist on fire and you were one of the most sought after rappers in the game after you left NWA, giving us amazing albums such as your debut album “No one Can Do It Better” which was a number one selling album, of course the following was “Helter Skelter”, “Deuce”, which were recorded after your horrific car accident. Now you speak on those as a heady cocktail of drugs, sex and alcohol pushed to the limit” yet you were always determined to get in the studio and knock out the hits no matter what came your way. Are there any stand out moment DOC from those days that you can share with us on that particular time in your career?
The thing that stands out the most for me during those times is the way the way people who really loved me as an artist and as a person went out of their way to push me up even when I had no belief or love left for myself at the time. There were people who really worked hard at trying to make me know that I was worth it, you know, people like my friend MC Breed, who passed away rest in peace, he really worked hard to let me know that I was great and I really appreciated him and the people that cared for that.
All the Long Beach Guys were there for me, Cube was there, Ren was there, but anybody else acted like they didn’t care and that bothered me for a long time you know, as I put so much into their success that I just knew at some stage they would reach back and pull me up but that never happened and I had to go through so some dark days dealing with all that man and it wasn’t pretty (laughs). But now my spirit is free and I don’t hold anything against any of these guys and I wish them all the success in the world.
DOC if I could be so bold as to ask you why do you think you have gone through this period of your life not being acknowledged or even mentioned or paid at some parts for the work you have done on such a large scale? What do you think it is that has made the men you started one of the most iconic hip hops in history with would want to shut you out of a success story that is communal and not individually earnt?
To me it comes down to a sense of power and so the men with the money have the power and the men with the power have the control and they are only interested in more power and control, The don’t have consciences that I want to make sure they do the right thing or to allow their legacy to get more light and sometimes that doesn’t include the truth, and that’s just the way of the world unfortunately.
What is DOC working on musically and creatively right now as you continue to forge ahead on your own path?
Having just come back home to Dallas now and the fact that my vocal chords started working actively again last year, praise God, I am beginning to work on a new record so I am really excited and blessed to say that and begin that process. I also have a round of meetings involving a reality show, which was sparked after this network found out about the speaking tours I did in Australia and the great feedback I received from my fans down there and they want to look at developing a reality show chronicling my comeback effort. So I’m back working and I’m working for DOC and for my kids and it’s the best feeling. So God willing I can bring Hollywood back to Texas and show em how it’s done out here.
If you could take 4 albums with you into the afterlife what would they be and why?
I would take “Biggie Smalls Greatest Hits”, I would take “Slick Rick”, I would take “No one Can Do It Better” and “Eric B for President” …..Because those men, these artists are probably my most favourite rappers of all time, they did so much for hip hop and for me as an artist and a lover of this music and I would have to take mine just so I could hear my voice again.
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