The D.O.C Presides Over a Historic Moment for Texas Hip-Hop

"Straight Outta Dallas" feat. The D.O.C, Scarface, DJ Erkyah Badu, etc.
The Bomb Factory, Dallas
October 17, 2015

Whether it was by divine intervention or a buoyancy of hysteria and research post-Straight Outta Compton, Dallas’s extensive hip-hop scene needed one particular night to shine brighter than any other hub in the country. There have been multiple festivals, grassroots movements and articles thrown up like confetti on major magazines and blog sites. None of it could truly compare to witnessing the return of The D.O.C to the stage and, in large part, watching the evolution of Dallas hip-hop as a whole.

“When I was locked up in a place called Wilmer,” The D.O.C. told us, his vocal cords no longer completely scarred from his auto accident some two decades ago. “I was laying on a metal bed and I yawned. And I felt [my vocal cords] move. That was God telling me, 'We have work to do.'”

All he wanted was 45 minutes.

Forty-five minutes for The D.O.C. to stand for Dallas, Cowboys hat on his head, white T-shirt and Adidas on his body and in command of the crowd. He soaked in the initial shrills and chants of the crowd, walked out to the 20th Century Fox fanfare and then grabbed a microphone. Without hesitation, he gave people exactly what they wanted, 70 percent or not. Just for kicks, he even brought out Marlon Yates Jr., the man who sported a Tony Dorsett jersey so proudly while portraying D.O.C in Straight Outta Compton. Even he got a nice little cheer from the faithful.

Flanked by Six-Two, one of the holdovers from Dr. Dre’s 2001 album and beyond, D.O.C. ripped through his classics. “Mind Blowin’” and "The D.O.C and The Doctor" (both from 1989) let Six-Two lean on everyone, with his “Xxplosive” verse and other minor wrinkles thrown in. Nomally, seeing a ton of people onstage would be a buzzkill for any rap show. But to see Badu sporting a "BY WAY OF DALLAS" track jacket and standing next to Erotic D while N.O. Joe was on the other side filming, this was more high school reunion than rap show. When Scarface slid from backstage as either a surprise guest or someone who literally saw D.O.C as an influence, the crowd roared.

“I know you just got out after that bullshit they pulled on you at B.E.T.,” D.O.C. said while introducing Face. “You didn’t even tell nobody, no interviews, no nothing. But you said the first thing you wanted to do was join me on this motherfuckin’ stage.”

Not even a week removed from being honored with an I Am Hip-Hop Award at the 2015 BET Hip-Hop Awards, there was Scarface in the flesh. He didn’t rap a single song from his Deeply Rooted album, not a verse and nary a note. He was there as a genuine fan, someone who bobbed his head to “The Formula” just as many older rap fans who were in attendance did. He gleamed with pride as he and D.O.C. zipped through “It’s Funky Enough” like Sting and Lex Luger for one night only.

Even as he tossed "Everything," a tribute to his former love but forever friend Erykah Badu, D.O.C. kept affirming his love for Dallas, for Dallas-Fort Worth. He bowed almost at the knees to offer a thank-you to the crowd, but that was offset by a thunderous chant of “D.O.C.!” One fan roared, “This ain’t the grand finale!” and he nodded. Once his set was indeed over and the floor was yielded to Badu’s own hour-long DJ set, the party continued.

Badu, easily the most recognizable face of Dallas’s music scene (sorry, Pantera, you’re number two), scaled back her usual DJ set and instead lobbed it up as a minor account of “Storytellers.” Her first two records, “On & On” and “Appletree,” had personal anecdotes attached. She casually snuck in some of her newer material with a chorus of "I can make you put your phone down" during a vibrant dance transition from A Tribe Called Quest’s “Oh My God” to Freeway’s “Roc The Mic.” She scattered and cooed her own remix of Drake’s popular “Hotline Bling” single and refused to let up until the lights came up.

As I walked out of the venue, I kept realizing that the theme of the show was “Straight Outta Dallas." Which is probably why Jesse Porter was so animated in his introductions or how Sandrine Phaysouphanh curtailed artists and media alike to all be part of the event. Three generations of Dallas hip-hop stood inside The Bomb Factory, cheering, hollering and laughing. No firework or roar could match the genuine approval of seeing Dallas have its own “where were you when” moment. The Bomb Factory, the same venue where UGK had an infamous night involving their mom-ager, a promoter and DJ Greg Street, let its rather cavernous ballroom become ground zero for decades of Dallas hip-hop to thrive and be reborn, in a hyperbolic sense. Whatever iteration of Dallas you fancied, from the freewheeling splash of Big Tuck and boogie of Lil Wil to the no-nonsense flavor of Mr. Pookie, Fat Pimp’s glide and grill-gleaming shit talk or A.Dd+’s rowdy cross section of Memphis and North Dallas, it all melted into one with zero hitches.

College me loved “Southside Da Realest” and “Not A Stain On Me,” and bopped with assured confidence with “Ice Cream Paint Job” and “Crook For Life.” I heard them all, straight from Big Tuck, Dorrough and Mr. Pookie themselves. My uncle, the one who introduced me to hip-hop for good via his cassette tapes of N.W.A and Too Short, would have loved to catch this show, this moment. Dallas got what it deserved Saturday night, and there isn’t a finale grand enough to top it.

KEEP THE HOUSTON PRESS FREE... Since we started the Houston Press, it has been defined as the free, independent voice of Houston, and we'd like to keep it that way. With local media under siege, it's more important than ever for us to rally support behind funding our local journalism. You can help by participating in our "I Support" program, allowing us to keep offering readers access to our incisive coverage of local news, food and culture with no paywalls.
Brandon Caldwell has been writing about music and news for the Houston Press since 2011. His work has also appeared in Complex, Noisey, the Village Voice & more.
Contact: Brandon Caldwell