Introducing ‘Notes from Mr. Sandman‘ – a column slapping a spotlight on lyricists overlooked, under appreciated, or just plain criminally slept on. Or like a man named Nas once said, “I never sleep, cause sleep is the cousin of death.” Enter Mr. Sandman with what y’all missed while chasing the REM dragon.
Funkdoobiest is an L.A.-based rap collective comprised of Son Doobie, DJ Ralph M and Tomahawk Funk. Made up entirely of moonstruck rhymes and stoner insights, their style is rooted in humor and vice.
Over the course of 16 years and four full-length albums they took their unhinged ways and directed it towards a niche audience. Numerous rap groups would go on to emulate their wildness, but none matched the potency of the Funkdoobiest state of mind.
What set Funkdoobiest apart was their crass portrayal of the party lifestyle. When their debut Which Doobie U B? dropped in ’93, rap was head over heels for sophisticated jazz loops and ultra conscious rhymes. Funkdoobiest brought the greasy funk and a half-drunk bottle of tequila; they had no interest in giving sermons, all they wanted to do was get lit. It was a respite from all the formalities.
DJ Muggs of Cypress Hill fame had a big part in Funkdoobiests’ success. He was the head chef who handled the sauce, stewing the beats in the dankest funk. Muggs helped mentor DJ Ralph M and together they crafted a sound that was an extension of what Cypress Hill was doing. It was dark and macabre, the heavy metal of rap music.
Vulgar in all the right ways, they were the reckless Uncles who had a dirty joke for every occasion. They’re the class clowns of rap, the type to laugh at funerals, the guys who would order cheeseburger and fries at a fine restaurant. Their lax approach to lyricism was not due to a lack of effort, but a desire to keep it light and fresh. They made up for it with blistering wordplay and unmatched bravado.
Funkdoobiest followed up their debut with another raging project Brothas Doobie. They took the savageness of their first album and amped it up even more. DJ Muggs had an even stronger presence, lacing the album with a thick smattering of funk. Muggs added a refinement that gave Funkdoobiest the confidence to project their unorthodox style. Brothas Doobie captured them at a crucial juncture, they knew they had made it and therefore didn’t need to press as hard. The comfort allowed them to slither around with serpentine ease.
As a whole Funkdoobiest was largely misunderstood, considered to be nothing more than a bunch of mischievous rap scallions. And while that’s true on one hand, on the other they represent something more; an anti-establishment force who helped keep the checks and balances of rap in order.
They livened up the conversation in rap, and proved that you don’t have to be academic to get your point across. They spoke with heart and let their personalities shine. Image was only a label, what mattered most was spirit. Others spoke about keeping it real, Funkdoobiest lived it.