This is a star-making moment. Doc La’s single “Look What They Did” is charting in Billboard at a number four position already and announces the arrival of an astonishing presence on the rap/hip hop scene. This is a laudable feat for any performer, any genre, but for a debut artist to chart so high marks the entrance of an extraordinary talent capable of taking things to higher levels. Taking the best of influences from recent icons like Tony Montana, Doc La has surrounded his mastery of the form with lyrical facility and a willingness to look into himself and his own experiences without posing or fear. He proves straight out of the gate that he intuitively understands what fans of the genre want to hear and the songwriting construction shows a focus and economy of movement setting him far apart from other performers emerging in recent years. The music isn’t afraid of taking some surprising, but wholly consistent, turns along the way and this will surely fire the imaginations and bodies of his intended audience. By any measure, this is a startling and ear-catching debut.
Doc La opens the track proclaiming his name for everyone to hear before percolating percussion comes in accompanied by an unobtrusive, but very groove oriented, bass line. When Doc La launches into the verses, it’s easy to feel yourself carried away by his delivery. It has a loping, highly rhythmic quality that locks in quite well with the aforementioned drums and bass, but the most important aspect is how Doc La’s vocals move with the groove rather than against it. It creates a highly seamless quality in the performance, an unifying feature that helps carry his lyrical excursions. The bridge leading into the chorus is particularly well handled with tinkling synthesizer lines bubbling to the surface of the mix that gives the song an unexpected melodic quality heading into the chorus. The chorus is, arguably, the high point. It’s emphatic without ever being over-dramatic and picks up on hints of melody in the bridge with a much more pronounced vocal melody that will be difficult for listeners to forget. The final half of the song takes a surprising turn. Doc-La dispenses with the earlier groove in favor of something much more ambient, but unquestionably hip hop.
The lyrics are a dizzying catalog of ruminations, half-accusations, and declarations of an unbroken spirit. In fact, despite the difficult times, the thing that emerges from Doc-:La’s lyrics is passion. He doesn’t overstress the words, but makes each one mean something. The chorus, in particular, is quite good with its repeated avowals of never letting anything change him. The song’s final fade finds Doc-La repeating the title over bass and drums once again, albeit this time following a different path than before. Doc-La, unquestionably, follows his own path and his Billboard chart success bears that out in vivid detail. “Look What They Did” never comes off as self-pitying or coy; instead, it embraces realism and shows how suffering and tribulation could never divert Doc La from his path and, with its release and certain positive across the board reception, they have less of a chance than ever before of swaying him from his direction.