Photo by Def Jam Recordings
During the 90s, Reggie Noble, aka Redman, was one of the most beloved MCs in hip-hop. A native of Newark, NJ, Redman emerged on the scene after being discovered by Erick Sermon of EPMD while DJing for the Lords of the Underground, who were also born and bred in the “Garden State.”
Recalling how he first met Redman, Sermon sensed that he was uniquely talented in their first interaction.
"I knew there was something spectacular about him. Right off the bat. The next day, we talked,” Sermon said. “And within the next two or three months, he moved to Long Island, to my crib. He moved right into my apartment.”
Proving that Sermon was right in his assessment, Redman made his debut on EPMD's classic album Business as Usual, dropping verses on "Hardcore" and "Brothers on My Jock."
As a solo artist signed to Def Jam, Redman’s other-worldly lyricism, witty wordplay, and undeniable sense of humor shone through on his debut album Whut? The Album (1992), followed by Dare Iz a Darkside (1994) and Muddy Waters (1996) all went gold. Undoubtedly, Redman was already your “favorite rapper’s favorite rapper,” and on his fourth album, Doc’s Da Name 2000, he would take his MCing to another level,
Released on December 8, 1998, and was the second album he would drop that year following El Niño with Def Squad members Sermon and Keith Murray, Doc’s Da Name 2000 was a highly-anticipated LP that encapsulated Def Jam’s dominance in the rap game. As expected, Redman did not disappoint.
With the production helmed by Sermon, Rockwilder, and “Funk Doctor Spock” himself, the sonics are filled with funk samples knocking snare drums that were tailormade for signatures tales of the latest going down in the hood, his impeccable mic skills, and of course, his affection for the cannabis leaf.
Opening the LP with an intro inspired by Parliament Funkadelic, “Welcome 2 da Bricks” shows love to the “Brick City” where the “rats i'll whoop your m*therf**king a**, ni**a.” Setting the tone for what's to come, Redman lays out his pedigree as an MC already regarded as the cream of the crop.
On the album’s first track, “Let Da Monkey Out '', Red gets right down to business, spitting some menacing bars over the mid-tempo funk track. Red raps, “I woof out, son you better buckle in/I write the madness, got ink foamin at the pen/I tear a ligament when I spit it in the wind/I got so much game I can Con Edison.”
“I’ll Be Dat”, the first single from the album, would become one of Redman’s most popular songs with an unforgettable hook.
Red rapped “My middle name must be, "F*k You"/'Cause every time I walk by/Ni++as be like, "Fu*ck you"/I'll be dat, I'll be dat, I'll be dat, I'll be dat/My first name must be, "He Ain't Shit"/'Cause every time I'm in a carBitches be like, "He ain't shit"/I'll be dat, I'll be dat, I'll be dat, I'll be dat.”
Accompanied by a hilarious video, “I’ll Be Dat” proved that Redman could spit bars with the best of them and produce his own hit song.
For the album’s second single, Reggie Noble collaborated with another renowned lyricist Busta Rhymes on the immediate party starter “Da Goodness.” Sampling Buddy Merrell’s guitar riffs on “Caravan” and produced by Red, the track was a banger that still rings off in the club and features two of the era's greatest MCs at their best.
Other highlights on the album include "Jersey Yo!", an exceptional cover of Ice Cube’s “Once Upon a Time in The Projects”, "Cloze Ya Doorz," a posse cut featuring Redman crew, Diezzel Don, Double-O, Gov Mattic, Roz, and Young Zee, and "Well All Rite Cha" another stellar collaboration with Method Man.
Although the album has 24 tracks and spans over 70 minutes, the listener barely notices “Funk Doctor Spock” taking you on another adventure. Redman fills the time with slapping beats, a buffet of punchlines, and pure entertainment with his signature comedic timing. The skits alone, such as "Soopaman Lova IV" featuring Dave Hollister, put Redman in a class by himself with his innate ability to be a world-class rhyme slinger and a humorous personality.
In the first week of its release, Doc's da Name 2000 debuted at number 11 on the US Billboard 200 chart, number one on the US Top R&B/Hip-Hop albums, and his third number one. In February 1999, the album went platinum, the first of Redman's legendary career.
While the album became Redman’s greatest commercial success, the project was also a showcase for his skills as MC, which were sharper than ever. He could create songs that continued to be the soundtrack for stoners and his evolution as a writer to create songs for a wider audience without compromising his style.
Diehard Redman fans may hold his previous efforts in higher regard, but Doc’s Da Name 2000 is unquestionably another notable album in his revered canon. While most of Red’s peers and the generation of MCs before were not at their creative peak or simply never got to reach a fourth album, Redman was almost a decade into his rap career and was still at an elite level and was well on his way to legendary status as a Hip-Hip icon.
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