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ALBUM REVIEWS : ‘Helter Skelter’ Proves D.O.C.'s Strength Is Now in His Writing : * 1/2, The D.O.C., “Helter Skelter”, Giant

In his late-'80s heyday, the D.O.C. was one of the most talented rappers of his generation--the West Coast’s answer to Big Daddy Kane. His voice was forceful but smooth, and the flowing cadences on his hit debut “No One Can Do It Better” were potent enough to put even Ice Cube on guard. But a 1989 car accident severed his vocal cords and reduced the rapper’s voice to a scratchy shadow of itself.

Listening to the D.O.C. rap on “Helter Skelter,” his first post-accident recording, is like seeing Superman trying to fly with Kryptonite shackles on his legs. It’s painful to witness. The Dr. Dre-influenced beats are effective, and the lyrics throughout, particularly on “From Ruthless to Death Row” and “4 My Doggs,” make it clear that he’s still a talented, acid-tongued writer. The D.O.C. provided most of the lyrics for Dre’s “The Chronic,” so that may be his real future. In any case, he should stay as far away from the microphone as possible.

New albums are rated on a scale of one star (poor), two stars (fair), three stars (good) and four stars (excellent).


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