This had been on my to listen to list for a minute. However, the negative reception it has received, due to The D.O.C.'s voice, had made me stay away. For those who don't know, The D.O.C. released an outstanding debut album, but he was then in a car accident and his vocal cords were severely damaged. From there, subsequent rushed surgeries, in an effort to get back on stage, only made it worse. He ghostwrote a lot for Dr Dre / NWA and claims that he was never compensated for his work. He was apparently working on the Cube/Dre album, 'Heltah Skeltah', and used some of that for this album. So this album is somewhat of a "fuck you" to Dre and his previous labels. Knowing what Dre is like with releasing records, maybe it would have never happened anyway, but damn, I would've loved a mid-90s Dre and Cube album!
The album kicks off with 'Return of the Livin' Dead' which basically uses the same instrumental as his hit 'It's Funky Enough' and the following song samples 'For the Love of You' by The Isley Brothers, so the production, handled by The D.O.C. and Erotic D, isn't an issue at the beginning of the album as it isn't throughout. It's funky, dark and hard. There are some nice production touches and some of the transitions from the verses to hooks are dope.
Forgetting about his raspy voice, which I don't really have too much of an issue with, (you could say that it almost fits some of the dark lyrically themes), the problem is that at times it has been mixed too low making it a challenge to hear the lyrics.
The worst and only close to boring song is 'Erotix Shit' with its monotonous production and uninspired rapping by the rappers featured on it. Some of the interludes and stuff at the beginning and end of songs is also something I loath that brings the album down a notch.
I don't think The D.O.C.'s damaged voice ruins the album like many other listeners would have you believe. This is a lot better than I expected. Even with the damaged voice, he flows and rhymes well, and the production is well above average, but I'm a sucker for mid-'90s west coast beats.
Best Tracks: Return of da Livin' Dead, Secret Plan, .45 Automatic, Brand New Formula