On the first verse of the opening track to No One Can Do It Better, The D.O.C. raps “I am not illiterate, no, not even a little bit / Nothin’ like an idiot--get it? / You want the record? Cool, I’m with it.” Transcribed, it sounds almost like Lil B, apparently self-aggrandizing but just sort of collapsing before it can really go anywhere. This indictment may just be the residue of my infatuation with the last record I reviewed, Kool G Rap & DJ Polo’s Wanted: Dead or Alive (1990), and Kool’s stunning presence on that album. But it also seems partly the fault of The D.O.C. himself, who provides the perfect foil to his coeval; whereas Kool is at his best one of the most dynamic rappers ever, The D.O.C. is merely okay, skilled but dreadfully unconvincing.
An extended comparison with one of my favorite rap albums seems unfair, but the difference between “Talk Like Sex,” off Wanted, and this album’s “Beautiful But Deadly” is telling. Both are about women, Kool’s a paean to his orgasm-inducing abilities and The D.O.C.’s a weirdly hateful spew against a woman never specified. “Talk Like Sex,” however, is an utterly hilarious, knowingly silly boast-fest; The D.O.C.’s track is just sort of dumb, from its dated-in-a-bad-way Dre beat (“We need some guitar that rocks,” quoth The D.O.C.) to its dull lyrics about a woman who wants to eat your soul, or something.
That’s all there is to it, unfortunately. No One Can Do It Better is, in all honesty, a pretty solid album--just one whose course is navigated by an uninteresting personality. “The D.O.C. & The Doctor” and especially “The Formula” (the latter of which is dated in a good way) both exhibit invigorating beats by a young Dr. Dre, and closer “The Finale” has a satisfying grandeur to it. But that last one is exciting primarily as an N.W.A posse cut, not thanks to any outstanding performance on the part of The D.O.C. The comparisons to Kool G Rap then start to feel a little more relevant: the artist behind No One Can Do It Better finds his utility only in subordination to other, better artists--whether that be Dre, N.W.A, even Michel’le of the otherwise-annoying skit “Comm. Blues”. The album as a result is enjoyable but its significance seems if anything merely regional, its place in the canon precarious at best.
idk im sorta harsh on these old school ones especially but i dont find him a particularly engaging presence--i'd grab "the formula," which is awesomely smooth in that sorta "regulate" way, and the closer though, good tracks
This review seems hastily written, which makes me think you didn't really absorb the album thoroughly. You constantly compare this to MWDOA, which doesn't seem fair since Kool G. Rap is a legend. It's like comparing Illmatic to any non specific excellent rap album, and coming to the conclusion that since it does not feature an all star cast of producers and a young rap prodigy, its not highly enjoyable.
Keep in mind that at the time of this release, the D.O.C. was rapping on a level that surpassed his fellow NWA members, in most respects. He was on track to release another classic, though he unfortunately was involved in a car accident that essentially ruined any potential advances in the music industry. The lyrics are good, not Kool G good, but good nonetheless. His flow is solid, and the beats by Dre are extremely catchy. It's a 4, at least.
See man when you frame your criticisms so that they end with "hey man this album is a 4 at least" I just don't really know
what to do with it. Sorry? You seem to have almost every rap album--and especially "classics"--rated as at least a 4 or above.
That's totally fine. But, especially as evinced by your curious silence on my positive Kool G Rap review, it still seems like
you're reacting primarily to my rating rather than my review. As for your specific criticisms: you're probably right on the Kool G
comparisons, although id say that's more because extensive comparisons are a rhetorically weak device more than anything.
I thought, given a) their proximity regarding release and b) the fact that I had just reviewed the Kool G for anyone "following"
my "project", it seemed aproppriate. It probably does take up too much, though
(Edit for clarity: I generally agree with you on the idea of judging an album on its own merits, but when sort of looking back
historically as I am with these reviews, I wonder how far I can really support that. When a rapper as vivid as Kool G is being
backed up with beats as good as Large Pro's, this just seems minor. Which is exactly what I tried to get at: the album is cool
as a little West Side curio but isn't really engaging to me personally. It is a "good" album. If I'm not able to make that sort of
personal judgment on this artifact of hip hop history, then reviewing is useless.)
Regardless, one thing I want to get across is that I personally just dont find this album particularly interesting and reviewed it
as such -- nothing more. The beats are sometimes good, sometimes merely alright, the rapping ditto. That's my opinion on
this album, and the review came after. If that makes sense.
I will genuinely think about what you're saying, though
That's always how I felt with the DOC, his lyrics are good (he's been known to ghostwrite for Dr. Dre and others), but I can't stand his voice and delivery, and even the beats are pretty stale imo.
But I agree with others in saying that this probably needs more listens before reviewing, as with most old-school rap albums (ie. before 1990 when the sound and style of rap was still very different from what is became later on). But then again you might've listened to this a million times so I might be talking out my ass.
When I compare this album to others released at the same time (Paul's Boutique, 3 Feet High and Rising, Strictly Business or even ATCQ's first album), I really feel that both production and delivery are clearly sharper and maybe better-controlled on D.O.C.'s LP. We can agree that it's not the only things that makes a good rap record, but to me Dre's production got so much groove, never gets boring or repetitive, and didn't get as old as some contemporaries.
"i think the real point he's getting at is that it may be a good idea to put a historical lense on some of these, which does have merit. although it's also interesting to not do that. so w/e ultimately"
This is a good point, and ill usually try to do a little bit of that although this review might be lacking. Although a) I don't see this as a particularly "important" album, so I don't think I've elided too much, and b) I don't want these reviews to turn into "well at least it's historically important so it's gotta be at least a 4/5 ok bye." Given here these albums come from, ALL of then are probably some form of important -- I guess my job here is to show which ones really matter personally to me, and also as a goal for myself just to learn more about the hippy hops in general