When the DOC spoke with rolling stone last week about the excellent new documentary about his life, he dropped a bombshell: he had recorded new music for the first time in decades. Since a car accident in 1989 damaged his vocal cords, the gravelly-voiced rapper – who once went platinum No one can do better in 1988 and wrote rhymes for NWA – had only recorded one full album, 1996 Helter Skelterand only made a few appearances himself in another, in 2003 The devil.
But as surprising as his return to the microphone was, he chose as his collaborator: “Fat Mike” Burkett, longtime leader of the punk group NOFX. “He started working with a group called the Codefendants,” the DOC said. “I did a song with these guys, and people are freaking out about it, so it must be pretty good.”
Fat Mike, who tells rolling stone that he’s only ever bought one rap album in his life (“It was Eminem with that song ‘Stan'”), was also surprised by the collaboration. “I listen to punk rock and the Beatles and Bowie, bullshit like that,” he says on Zoom. “I have no knowledge of hip-hop.”
The pair met through Gary Ousdahl, who produced the DOC documentary, and it worked so well that a lot of the footage was filmed at Fat Mike’s. “We come from two totally different places,” says Fat Mike. “He had never heard of punk rock before. But our sense of humor is the same and we get along so well. Eventually, the punk rocker played DOC some music he’d recorded with a new band called the Codefendants — which includes Sam King of San Francisco punks Get Dead and hip-hop artist Ceschi — and the rapper was impressed.
“He’s like, ‘What the fuck? I’ve never done anything like that,'” Fat Mike says. “And I’m like, ‘This is just some shit I’m on work. Do you want to do a song with us?’ He’s like, ‘Fuck yeah, I do.’ And that was just it. He heard it. He loved it. And he’s in it.
“The guy was so genuine and cool and adamant about working together because, being introduced to my story, he really wanted to see me win,” DOC said via email. “That kind of energy made it hard to say no. Plus, the guy is a great producer, and the young guys have great voices. Might as well add a dirty growl.
The result was “The Fast Ones”, premiering here. After verses from King and Ceschi over a thick bass line, trapping drums, and echoing, dubby ear candy, the DOC raps about how hip-hop has changed since its beginnings. “We used to say ‘fuck the brass’ on ayahuasca… That was when it was attitudes, now it’s just a minstrel – black fists, black fools, black-faced clowns.” His voice is gruff and raspy, and it matches the downtempo vibe of the track perfectly. “He needed someone to tell him, ‘Dude, your voice is perfect; it’s just different,” says Fat Mike. “He destroyed everyone. He comes like a fucking monster.
Fat Mike saw how the experience refreshed the rapper. “Now he wants to do a few more songs with us and tour with us, which would be so awesome,” the punk rocker said. “He came out and sang a song with NOFX in Dallas, ‘Kill All the White Man’, and it was so cool. He was so excited. And then we stopped and the whole crowd was chanting ‘DOC’, and he said ‘Oh, my God’. Fuck, I never got to experience that. He fucking missed.
Fat Mike is still considering how he wants to roll out the rest of Codefendants’ music. He already has a genre name for it, ‘crime wave’ – “The band is full of criminals and criminals,” he says, adding, “If Sam gets arrested for anything, he gets a lot of money. ‘a two-year suspended sentence, so he has to try to stay out of trouble, and that’s impossible for him’ – and a website for the band, but it’s still coming together. They recently met Imani from Pharcyde and rapper Ras Kass and now intend to work together.”I’ve never heard of these people, but they want to be a part of it, which is so exciting,” says Fat Mike.
As a producer, Fat Mike believes his role is to encourage artists who would otherwise hide their vulnerable side to open up. “For this record, they sing things that make them feel like, ‘Oh, I can’t believe I let that out,'” he says. “I’m a co-writer and a producer, but I really bring that out in people.”
“Mike has a fantastic ear and pen himself,” says DOC. “Also, punk and rap are really cousins. I’ve always taken a bit of pride in knowing what works and these guys work.
The only thing Fat Mike worries about with “The Fast Ones” is how one of DOC’s oldest friends, Dr. Dre, will feel about it. “He didn’t play it for Dre,” the producer says. “He didn’t play it for anyone. I’m actually a little freaked out, because when Xzibit was there, he takes the mic, then his manager comes in like “It’s Dre”. He says, ‘Who the fuck is this guy? And you are sure my label.’ So here is. I hope Dre likes the song.
Although the project did not receive the reception that Fat Mike hoped for, it was a transformative experience. “I have such a newfound respect for hip-hop,” he says, though he concedes he’s not a regular rap listener. He just likes to create something different. “I’m 55 and I can do new things,” he enthuses. “No matter how good a NOFX recording is, who cares? I mean, people care. Our album from last year got great reviews… [but] I think it’s the best record I’ve ever produced.
He also hopes the DOC feels the same way. “After doing this co-defendants thing, I really want to see him start working again,” he says. “Yeah, his voice is like Louis Armstrong. You box have a voice like that.