Doug E. Fresh
Doug E Fresh been in the rap game for a long time. He started way back around 1981, when he was only about 13 years old, doing block parties and basically getting his name out there. "Back then it wasn't about records," Dougie says, "It was about your ability to get up there and perform for the crowd." He used to practice routines with his boys Barry B and Chill Will, who later became members of the Get Fresh Crew. Barry B was the one who actually coined the term "human beatbox" to describe the talent of making music with your mouth that made Dougie famous.
Being an old school veteran, the Fresh one recognizes the changing face of hip-hop. "It's like a thing where the lyrics now are about gangster stuff and drug deals and all of that. It was never about that before," he says. Doug is quick to point out that he does not have a problem with this side of rap, though. "It's OK to talk about that, but don't exclude the other things you've been talking about." So rap critics, don't think you have an ally in Doug E Fresh. He's a hip-hop activist and will always be down for the cause. He says that the rap critics only speak out against something when they think it will benefit them to do so and support something only when it suits them.
Doug E Fresh is constantly involved in projects to assist and advance his community. "That is the most important agenda. I like to know that outside of rapping we can make a difference with our careers. I'm always doing something that has to do with brothers and sisters getting their thing together." Most recently he has been involved with UrbanAid, an AIDS prevention campaign.
Being an entertainer, Doug E Fresh knows how important it is to do live shows as well as make records. Besides being a means of feeding an artist's family, live shows also help fans understand a performer and his music. "People think artists feed their families through royalties, but that ain't real."
The Entertainer's new album is simply called Play. This album has no tales of drug slinging or busting caps, it's all about fun. Just like it was in the old days. Dougie says he wanted to make an album where people could have a good time, without being aggravated or stressed. He just wanted to inject the fun back into hip-hop.
The album is indeed like a non-stop party, or even a live concert. "I think the party atmosphere is important; you go to a party to hear some good music and get a good vibe. This album was designed to make you bounce, straight up. It takes you through all the dimensions of a party, from rap to reggae to a taste of the R&B flavor. The bottom line is enjoying yourself."
"I wasn't talking about selling keys [kilos], or how many guns I'm bringing in from El Segundo. That ain't really what I'm about and even if I was, I really don't think that's what I want to say for myself right now," Doug E explains. He'll leave it up to other emcees to rap about that stuff. "In '95, lyrics are based on how many drug stories you can tell, how much hard shit you can say, or how many niggas you can kill in your rhyme. People are judging rap the wrong way. You're not gonna hear the hardest lyrics in the party jam."
Personnel on Play include Dougie's protege Little Vicious, singing sensation Miss Jones (also put on by Doug E Fresh), the Uptown Crew, The Mulemen, nasty man Luke and old school representatives Cold Crush, Furious 5, DJ Hollywood and Lovebug Starsky. The hip-hop pioneers featured on the album are people that taught and inspired Doug E Fresh.
He met both Miss Jones and Little Vicious in Harlem, on different occasions. The first Fresh/Vicious collaboration came in the form of a B-side entitled "Freaks." Dougie supplied the beatbox as Vicious chatted dancehall flavor about the ladies that don't act right. Miss Jones got down after an impromptu audition out on the street! "That's the same way I met [Slick] Rick. I met him at a contest. I thought, 'Yo, homeboy got a style;' he had mad skills so I put him on."
As for Luke, apparently he and Dougie are good friends. Their duet came about after a conversation they had. Of course, the song is about ladies, but Doug says people shouldn't take it too seriously, it's all in fun. What will the fans think? The man himself acknowledges that some heads might not comprehend this move. However, he also thinks that a lot of people will probably dig it "because the beat is phat, Luke is buggin' and Doug is buggin' with him." Ultimately he says whatever people think, he won't be losing too much sleep over this one. "There's many things I've done before that people didn't understand, but once it became successful, it really didn't matter. I've always done what I thought I needed to do and when I'm wrong then I'm man enough to admit it."
Some people may remember a little stint Doug E Fresh did on MC Hammer's Bust It label. It was by no means a stellar performance but he does not look at it as a mistake per se, rather he regards it as a learning experience. Doug E Fresh says he got ahead because he learned from all his experiences, good or bad. He compares that fateful episode to Buster Douglas knocking out Mike Tyson.
But like the commentary at the end of his hit single, "I-ight," says, he still considers himself "the undisputed heavyweight champion of the hip-hop world." With a gang of classics under your belt, wouldn't you?