Tim Dog holds a unique position in Hip Hop. He’s one of those artists that is generally loved or hated. Very few people are riding the fence. Either you appreciate it for what it is, or what you take it to be, or you don’t enjoy it at all. He’s not revered because of his writing acumen. He’s not even most known for his affiliation with the legendary Ultramagnetic MCs. Tim Dog is known because he is a symbol, an anti-hero who spoke loudly to the world, speaking the words that many others only shared with a few friends at their local 90s Hip Hop hang out.
When I first heard “F**k Compton!” I recall being uncontrollably lifted from my seat to cheer in undying support…not because I felt that there were no talented MCs representing Compton. I could argue that I’m the biggest King Tee fan on planet earth and he is the first I heard claiming the city on record. Not because I thought N.W.A was wack, far from it. I thought Dr. Dre was a production mastermind and for someone who wasn’t truly an MC, Dre sounded astounding better than most Rappers. Plus MC Ren’s flow and intensity was a pure audio adrenaline rush and that Ice Cube dude was pretty good too (wink). I was enthusiastic in my support of Tim Dog for two reasons and both were directly related to me being an MC. One, I was like a shark, the smell of blood alerted my keenest senses. The MC battlefield was my home and I welcomed the verbal carnage. “F**K Compton!” was fuel to a fire that I hoped would burn eternally. I viewed the spirit of competition as a key component in keeping MCs sharp. I didn’t cheer on Tim Dog just because he was trying to start a war. I cheered in anticipation in what the counter-fire would sound like. Secondly, I was a fan of many MCs representing Compton, like those mentioned above and also Compton’s Most Wanted, Mixmaster Spade, Toddy Tee, and so on, but there was a trend that exploded with the success of N.W.A that sent record labels trying to find the next Compton super star. There seemed to be a rush of Rappers all the sudden shouting or claiming Compton in there rhymes and virtually none of them were in a talent class of the MCs I have mentioned already representing the city. In fact, to me the end all of “F**K Compton!” wasn’t just about Rappers from Compton, it was throwing rocks at the recording industry for thinking in such a cookie cutter fashion. For me, Tim Dog was just as much at war with the evil corporations, record labels like the one that asked my group if we could make songs like N.W.A or Too Short in exchange for a record contract in ’89. I applauded his efforts loudly and proudly. He was defending my honor as well.
Still there was more to it, including that it was heavily entertaining. It’s an impossible for me to listen to a Tim Dog song and somewhere amiss me getting hyped up and giggling intermittently, I have to stop and go, “He is joking right??!!!” Happens every time. Is Tim Dog likely to offend 90% of the population? Yes. But, I have to believe, or choose to believe, that he was playing a character. The peculiar mix of stone face hardcore-ness and blatant silliness, has to be intentional…right? I like to imagine him snickering after leaving the sound booth after spitting Raps like, “…whether you think I’m just a myth, the riff, the lift, the gift, the ifs, the fifth, the shift, the spliff, that’s in control, I hold a, fold a, bowl a make you take and ache and think…WHOOO! Hot damn I’m great!” This is a mad scientist at work, a sort of Kool Keith on a testosterone overdose.
As immensely irresponsible as it is, me and my partner Black Man Zeke, used to ride around in his burgundy Hyundai, sipping Cisco, with Tim Dog as loud as the factory system would allow without distorting the lyrics too much, as we rapped along with great volume to the finest moments of “Penicillin On Wax” and then randomly break into hysterical laughter at the ridiculousness of it all*.
Getting back that album title, “Penicillin On Wax”??!! There’s just something so perfect about that. It’s got to be one of my favorite Rap album titles. Was this intended as the prescription to cure all of Hip Hop’s ills? Indeed a lofty goal and even if it fell short, it provided endless entertainment in the attempt. I get aggravated when Tim Dog is reduced to one song. “F**k Compton” isn’t even my favorite track of his. If you listen to “I”ll Wax Anybody”, “Dog’s Gonna Getcha” or “Can’t F**k Around” and don’t at least crack a smile, then you don’t get the joke or are too sensitive for the likes of this. “Step To Me” is every bit as good a diss track as “F**k Compton” and I’m not mad at his political rants on “I Ain’t Takin’ No Shorts”. I also love the Ultramagnetic classic break-beat production, the rawness. It doesn’t stop there. Tim Dog’s second album, while not as potent as the first, had some notable highlight moments such as “I Get Wrecked” with KRS One, “Skip To My Loot with Smooth B, and “Maddog”.
Although Tim Dog is a highly unlikely role model for anything, especially women’s rights, with his steady stream of misogyny in his music, he was also one of the only Rappers to vocally challenge Dr Dre on the physical assault of Dee Barnes. That’s something I don’t recall ever seeing him get credit for. As I said, Tim Dog was a symbol...for the 90s he was like a modern day Rap Batman…
Tim Dog personifies the essence of Hip Hop as well as just about any artist can. He symbolizes not only the hunger, but also the unavoidable need for the battle. He is over-the-top, exaggerative, unapologetic, and seemingly unconcerned with the unpopularity and consequences of his vocal rants. He’s a living contradiction, as he pledges his allegiance to hardcore Hip Hop, but goes so far that it becomes a caricature of its authenticity. Yet, all of these are the reasons we love him…and why the others did not. Arguably, you can apply any of those theories to the overall picture of the Hip Hop culture, but there’s something pure in a love/hate relationship….
I want to give my condolences to Tim Dog’s family, friends, fans and Ultramagnetic brethren, but I don’t want to do a moment of silence. That doesn’t feel appropriate. Instead, wherever you are, don’t even look around, just fearlessly let out a Tim Dog growl in his memory…
Written By Kevin Beacham
*I am by no means attempting to glorify or proud of this, drinking and driving in any fashion was idiotic to put it mild. I’m thankful we grew up before we hurt anyone or got hurt.