From Slick Rick’s not-so-child-friendly “Children’s Story,” all the way up to Kendrick Lamar’s vivid Compton narratives: storytelling has always played a huge part in hip hop. And let’s not forget about the countless fascinating, fun or remarkable life stories of rappers. Some of which you might even not know yet. So let’s have a bit of fun with stories about story-tellers instead of listening to them, for a change.
Thomas Heerma van Voss (1990) is author of three Dutch novels, editor for numerous publications, and founder of now-defunct website Hiphopleeft (Hip Hop Lives), which had been delivering high-quality Dutch longreads and reviews on hip hop from 2007 up till 2012.
His new book, titled Plaatsvervangers, will be released tomorrow via Thomas Rap/De Bezige Bij. Hip hop plays an important part in it. Matter of fact, it’s all about music: about the Dutch hip hop scene, the power of hip hop music, about remarkable life stories of artists he considers to be personal heroes. Stories that could’ve come straight out of made-up movie scripts, ranging from the life and times of Slaughterhouse, Dr. Dre and Master P, to the influence of Damon Albarn and Hans Zimmer on contemporary music.
For The Find, Thomas has selected two artists and stories he finds worth sharing. Read his first story below, we’ll publish the second one by next week:
How Tim Dog Outhustled Himself
In case you’re not familiar with Tim Dog, perhaps you do recognize his name from Dr. Dre’s legendary debut album The Chronic (1992), on which Snoop Dogg takes verbal shots at him. Once in the intro track of the album, and—more famously—on the popular single “Fuck wit Dre Day (And Everybody’s Celebratin’)”. A part of Snoop’s verse:
“Play with my bone, would ya Timmy?
It seems like you’re good for making jokes about your jimmy
But here’s a jimmy joke about your momma that you might not like
I heard she was the ‘Frisco dyke
But fuck your mama, I’m talking about you and me
Toe to toe, Tim M-U-T
Your bark was loud but your bite wasn’t vicious
And them rhymes you were kicking were quite bootylicious
You get with Doggy Dogg “Oh is he crazy?”
With your mama and your daddy hollering “Baby!”
So won’t they let you know
That if you fuck with Dre, nigga you’re fuckin’ with Death Row”
– Snoop Dogg
So why did Snoop diss Tim Dog? And why did he say they would go toe to toe? Tim Dog and Snoop Dogg had never worked with each other and when Snoop decided to diss him, they’ve never even met each other. He dissed Tim Dog out of loyalty to his new partner, Dr. Dre. In 1991, the then-unknown Tim Dog released the single “Fuck Compton”, in which he complains about the media shining most of their light on the West Coast, sharing a sentiment of East Coast artists feeling disregarded. On “Fuck Compton”, Tim Dog especially criticized N.W.A., and therefore also Dre.
You could argue that at the very beginning of both of their careers, Snoop Dogg already had a way more distinctive style than Tim Dog. But, however you look at it, they were playing in the same league—especially taking into account that we’re talking about pre-Doggystyle Snoop here: his contributions to The Chronic were his very first steps into the music industry. Tim Dog, on his part, also just entered the scene with his debut, Penicillin on Wax. “Fuck Compton” wasn’t a smash hit but really gained a lot of exposure, and Tim Dog’s loud, barking voice still made him quite popular amongst fanatical hip hop heads.
But in the years that followed, the gap between him and Snoop Dogg kept on growing. While Snoop Dogg gained a lot of popularity and had hit records every few years until this day, Tim Dog made ‘angry hip hop’ only a select group of diehard heads used to listen to. Fast-forward to the late 90s: Tim Dog’s label dropped him around 1998, he started his own companies, he made small tours around the world—and over the years he had dissed Dr. Dre and Snoop Dogg on several records. But Dre and Snoop didn’t even seem to bother. They never even responded.
I’ve always loved Tim Dog’s style. His angry voice, his energy, and even his never-ending focus on “real hip hop”. Over the years I’ve bought all his CDs, I went to his only live show in Amsterdam back in 2005, and I even interviewed him once over the phone. Which was a strange conversation: he kept on talking about his daily habits, about his nemesis Snoop Dogg (of course), and about himself. When the conversation was over, I realized he didn’t say anything interesting. He just talked about himself, without any reflections or a vague hint of self-criticism.
Back then, there weren’t many Tim Dog fans anymore. Every CD since his 1991 debut was less popular than its predecessor. Since 2006 he didn’t even release any new albums. He sporadically dropped a track online, which I always listened to. I had a certain devotion to check out his music, which I couldn’t really explain to myself.
“I saw my own personal hero, the phenomenon Tim Dog, and he completely outhustled himself”
But then, in 2011, all of a sudden there was an episode of American television show Dateline. It turned out that over the years Tim Dog had contacted women all over the world via sites like MySpace. They dated, they slept with him, and at a certain point he would convince them to invest in tours and releases (by other artists). Tours that never took place, and albums that were never released… Some of these women contacted each other online and took Tim Dog to court. I followed every step of this trial. I saw my own personal hero, the phenomenon Tim Dog, and he completely outhustled himself.
He was ordered to pay back $19.000 to one of the victims, but he had only paid a small amount of it. Then he suddenly died. From diabetes, officials said. But other people and even the state of Mississippi have said that he faked his own death to avoid the debts and on-going damage claims. In an essay in Plaatsvervangers I wrote about this more extensively. I wrote about Tim Dog’s career, his total lack of self-awareness, his odd focus on “real hip hop”, his online schemes, and about my fascination for the years leading up to his (fake?) death.
In the essay I also talk about my hope that he’s still alive, out there, somewhere. And that in some kind of strange way we will meet again.
My hip hop hero and me.