Waking up this morning to the news that Ultramagnetic MC’s affiliate Tim Dog had passed away yesterday following a diabetes-related seizure definitely had me wiping the sleep out of my eyes with the quickness.
The Bronx-bred emcee wasn’t the most popular lyricist in the rap game or even the most talented, but for anyone who was listening to Hip-Hop in the late-80s / early-90s he definitely ranks as one of the most memorable. From his one-man war against N.W.A., DJ Quik and various other West Coast gangsta rappers of the early-90s to his entertaining reunion with Kool Keith some years later as the duo Ultra, Tim Dog had a way with words that was equal parts deadpan comedy, bullying bluster and New York emcee bravado.
Tim’s blunt delivery played a huge part in ensuring that his threats of violence, sexual boasts and claims of lyrical superiority always left a mark, with the Dog’s classic 1991 debut solo album “Penicillin On Wax” ranking as one of Hip-Hop’s most hardcore albums yet also one of its most humorous.
Listening to thunderous tracks such as “Step To Me” and “I Ain’t Takin’ No Shorts”, you got the impression that laughing with Tim was fine, but laughing at the D-O-G would result in a good ol-fashioned Bronx-style beatdown.
Although the wider world will no doubt remember Timothy Blair for his 2012 appearance on NBC’s Dateline as a result of his legal issues surrounding an online dating scam, the Hip-Hop world will always remember Tim Dog as one of the game’s most charismatic characters to ever hold a microphone.
So, step to the rear and cheer, Tim Dog will always be here thanks to his many unforgettable appearances on vinyl, tape and CD.
RIP (1 January 1967 – 14 February 2013).
“A Chorus Line” (Next Plateau Records / 1989)
Setting off this classic Ced Gee-produced Ultramagnetic b-side, the Bronx bomber delivered a tongue-twisting verse which officially introduced the Dog’s gruff persona to the world amidst a barrage of what would become Tim’s trademark WWF-style threats, including telling rappers who wanted to play to “go ride a sleigh” and how he’d “bone your girl Emily”. Woo! Hot damn he’s great!
“F**k Compton” (Ruffhouse Records / 1991)
I can still remember the first time I heard this in the summer of 91 on Tim Westwood’s Capital Rap Show here in the UK. Although it was obviously heavily-edited for radio-play, that didn’t do anything to reduce the initial shock value of hearing Tim Dog not just taking shots at N.W.A., but taking on the whole of Compton! And that Michel’le impersonation is still priceless over twenty years later.
“Intro” (Ruffhouse Records / 1991)
The N.W.A. bashing continued on the opening track from Tim’s classic “Pencillin On Wax” album. After a batch of amusing answerphone-style messages from the likes of gangsta-limpin’ Big Earl from Chicago and Houston-based groupie Sheila, the Dog dropped perhaps one of his most stinging West Coast disses, criticising the LA crew for “wearing Raider hats when the Giants won Super Bowl” over their own beat.
“I’ll Wax Anybody” (Ruffhouse Records / 1991)
Baiting sucker emcees to show Tim their “weaky style” before he responded with his “freaky style”, the BX bully obliterated this Moe Love-produced track, punching the competition “in their third eye”, dissing Eddie Murphy and proclaiming his status as a “dope rap idol” over a timeless “Nautilus” sample.
“Bronx Ni**a – The One Seven O Mix” (Ruffhouse Records / 1992)
This remix courtesy of both T.R. Love and Moe Love found the Dog celebrating his old-school roots on what was probably one of my most played 12″ singles of 92. Over another chunk of Bob James’ classic “Nautilus”, Tim shouted out everyone and everywhere from the Zulu Nation and Bronx River to BDP and Soundview Projects, resulting in what must be one of the hardest dedications to the home of Hip-Hop on wax. Word to B.O.!
“Porno Star” (Mercury Records / 1992)
Although Tim had already delivered some outlandish, obscene tales of his own on 1991’s quiet storm classic “Secret Fantasies”, he returned once more in the role of the “Rated-X Man” on this self-explanatory track from Ultra’s “Funk Your Head Up” album. Dropping some of the most amusing explicit rhymes at the time since Kool G. Rap’s “Talk Like Sex” (clarifying that in the bedroom ‘Dog’ stood for “Doin’ it on the ground…”), the brazen emcee proved that it really ain’t no fun if the homies can’t have none.
“I Get Wrecked” ft. KRS-One (Ruffhouse Records / 1993)
DJ Moe Love once again proved his ability to craft perfect breakbeat-driven hardcore bangers on this first single from Tim Dog’s sophomore solo project “Do Or Die”. A high-octane performance from the Blastmaster combined with a ridiculously obese bassline and Tim’s bulldozer-style rhymes resulted in a rough, rugged and raw anthem tailor-made to do the East Coast Stomp to.
“Timberlands” (Ruffhouse Records / 1993)
Speaking of the East Coast Stomp, the NY native delivered a heartfelt dedication to the Rotten Apple’s 90s footwear of choice, helpfully explaining how the hard-wearing boots had practical uses beyond just walking, such as leaving a sole print on someone’s face. “As long as Tims on my feet, I get much respect…” stated the Ultramagnetic emcee on this sparse, self-produced track. True indeed, Dog, true indeed.
“Industry Is Wak” (Our Turn Records / 1996)
After rallying against fake West Coast studio gangstas five years earlier, Tim reunited with Kool Keith for the Ultra album “Big Time” and turned his attentions to the jiggy trends that were surfacing on the East Coast in the wake of Biggie’s success. Over a head-nodding Kutmasta Kurt beat a rejuvenated Dog summed up his feelings succinctly with the lines, “Rhyming like Nas, Looking like Treach, Beat’s mad weak, Hook I can’t catch…”, speaking for legions of Hip-Hop fans in the process.
“Run Run Run” (Big City Entertainment / 2006)
Produced by the UK’s Zygote and DJ Jazz T of Diversion Tactics fame, this track from Tim’s “BX Warrior” project found the Dog at his growling best, barking over-the-top rhymes about guns, violence and rap dominance as if he was about to burst out of the speaker and punch you straight in the face.