Wednesday, June 16, 2010

The Heir Up There (at Kelly and Morang)

My friend and force-of-nature-at-large Sheefy McFly was kind enough to let me guest appear on his latest album, "Thee Coolest Loser." Sheefy is one of the most unique and talented individuals I've met in the Detroit hip hop scene. He dropped out of art school to be a rapper and producer full time, and supports massive marijuana and junk food habits solely through hustling beats out of his backpack studio. The price of a beat from Sheefy varies from day to day depending on how desperate he is to smoke or cop a sack of Telway's. A man of limited resources myself these days, it was natural that we make a song about our financial struggles:

<a href="">Broke FT. Doc Waffles by Sheefy McFly</a>

I've been buying beats for Sheefy for a couple of months now, and his production will figure prominently on my upcoming EP, "Who's Holding?" If you have not seen Sheefy perform, or attended his vibrant monthly showcase, "The Air Up There" at Bob's Classic Kicks, you are missing out on one of Detroit's most engagingly charismatic performers. Download his music for free at and support one of the scenes hungriest up and coming artists.

Friday, April 9, 2010

The Old Tigers are on Meth

I live three blocks from the corner of Michigan and Trumble. The grounds where the old Tiger Stadium once stood is for me the most depressing and poignant vacant lot in a city with no shortage of worthy candidates. You get so anesthetized to decay and erosion driving around Detroit that it takes something like a venerated ballpark being torn down and replaced with nothing to provide even a dull shock. I get that, but I also can't help driving past the stadium without thinking of Mark Fidrych talking to baseballs and Willie Horton throwing out Lou Brock. One is compelled to wonder what would happen if the moral lives of the men who balled at the old stadium were subject to the same process of dilapidation.

They would start doing meth, of course, and I freestyled some shit one night to that effect...

Old Tigers are on Meth Freestyle by doc waffles

So yeah, don't be surprised if Willie Hernandez asks you if you know where he can score some tweak next time your walking out of Nemo's. It's opening day in Detroit, suckaz, THE OLD TIGERS ARE ON METH!

Saturday, February 13, 2010

All the Carbonite Did was Make Han Solo Colder

Two episodes from his recent trip to England illustrating why Charles Vann, my good friend who writes and records as the bathing suit rapper SelfSays, is one of illest human beings alive:

Charles discovered that McDonalds in the UK offer a 'Spicy Curry' Chicken McNugget sauce that is not available here in the states. He smuggled a dozen or so packs of it back home, making the condiment repertory in his fridge something I don't think many other rappers would want to step to.

Charles took a lot of pictures across the pond. He visited all the major institutions and shot dinosaur bones, land indenture documents, crown jewels, etc. But Charles himself was in very few of the pictures. He was giving me a slideshow up at the 5E and after ten minutes of shots of people who are not one of my favorite rappers getting on and off the Subway I told him I wanted to see pictures of him doing some extra strength English shit. So he flipped through his camera and showed me a picture from the Entertainment Museum, where he was posted up next to Han Solo frozen in Carbonite from Return of the Jedi.

I'd like to allegorically extend the central objects of these vignettes, Mcnugget sauce packs and Han Solo in Carbonite as a way of explaining why I find Charles rap enterprise so unique and exciting. Have you heard Sleeping Beauty?

<a href="">Sleeping Beauty by SelfSays</a>

Chicken McNugget experiences are all about immanence and immediacy. Being able to embellish the McNugget with an esoteric, international sauce is blessing something disposable with exquisite stylishness. And so we see Self on Sleeping Beauty enriching a universal predicament with his distinct and elusive flavor. Charles' immersive lyricism bristles with swaggering frailty and subtle tension as he conveys all the vagaries and compromises intrinsic to loving someone when everyone else tells you they're worthless. Self was benevolent enough to hit me off with a few of his freshly imported Spicy Curry's, and I've taken to the habit of whispering, "so sleep, beauty, sleep" to my McNuggets before dipping them in that good English and sending them down.

Sleeping Beauty shows Self at his most vulnerable. Caught up, conflicted, set upon by competing impulses, wanting to go for delph but sensing there is a greater good he could serve. It is the predicament of the Carbonite frozen Han Solo that he was compelled to be photograph with, that he prioritized over brontosauruses and bejeweled scepters. A situation where you open yourself to disparagement and contempt, but have no choice but to remain true to your own aesthetic, the decision making processes that got you where you are. Han Solo never wanted to be anyone else, even while he was getting froze up, and I don't think Charles would want to trade place with anyone either, even when he's having to hustle to balance his musical aspirations with college, keeping the lights on, and maintaining stats as a gentleman of leisure. When the hyper drive fails he's not afraid to say my bad, and in so doing achieves a rancorous but deeply personalized authenticity.

Self puts himself out on wax in a way that invites people to participate with him in the minutia of his everyday struggles, from having his car stolen and not having insurance to figuring out what kind of hot sauce best accentuates his top ramen. He is able to infuse these banal incidents with enough personality and vibrancy that they seem as nuanced and vital as some a long time ago, in a galaxy far, far away type shit.

Its freezing out here, and all we have are these bathing suits. Its all good though. All the Carbonite did was make Han Solo colder.

Check out and download the album "Something Out of Nothing" for Free. We perform together around town a lot too. Keep your ears peeled.

Friday, February 12, 2010

I Have a Lot of Shows Coming Up with Interesting Names

The rapper Doc Waffles (who I write for and sometimes am) will be pouring non events, shaking tail feathers, calibrating trapezes, smoking in bed, and otherwise encouraging libertine behaviors at a number of thought provoking watusicentric loveshows coming up in the next few weeks. This is in advance of the April 1st release of How To Shoot Quail, which is mostly recorded and just needs the bristling application of Caligula soundbites from The Robe at the head and tail of each song. An official release party will be in the works for mid-April but in the meantime, here is a schedule of upcoming events where I will be appearing.

Feb. 26th: "Serious Delerium" at the Vernors Room, Pontiac, a night of hip hop and improvisational comedy ft. Doc Waffles, Self Says, Detroit Cydi, and a motley gang of local improv. all stars.

Feb. 27th: "The Air Up There" at Bob's Classic Kicks, Detroit with One B. Lo, Coldmen Young, Sheefy McFly, etc.

March 13th: "Gentleman of Leisure" Underground Party in Ann Arbor with Fluent, Self Says, Sheefy McFly, and Scav D. The purple coat makes its first Ann Arbor appearance.

March 26th: "I'm Caked Out, Jack" Underground Party in Detroit with Fluent, Self Says, Detroit Cydi, The Telephone Callers, Dark Cube, Kush Twinz, etc. I made some inquiries about bringing Mr. I'm Caked Out Jack himself, Ice T in for this event but his people are trying to get that Law and Order bread so I think I'll just get my manager Hubert Sawyers to dress up as c. 1989 Ice and perform "Colors" for 1/1000th of the cost.

In preparation for these events I recommend you download the latest hit jams at,, and This is a gateway to geekery of sorts into Detroit Bathing Suit Rap. Get after it right now while your waiting for your hair to dry, hipsters, while its still congealing and nascent.

Saturday, October 17, 2009

Why A Waffle?

I get asked about the origins of my nomme de rap Doc Waffles all the time. Its an unusual name for a rapper and has kind of an interesting back story which I'm happy to dish.

But first let me clarify this now for all the people who see me at the Steak Hut eating a tossed salad for breakfast and can't wrap their head around the idea that I'm not about to go in on a heaping plate of waffles: the name Doc Waffles does not elude to my gastronomical preferences. I don't eat waffles, or breakfast foods in general, and I have no particular affection for the waffle as an aesthetic object. I can honestly say that I have not eaten a waffle since May of 2005, when I got waffles and ice cream at the Golden Nugget in Chicago with my main man in the antiquities game John King. That shit was on point but it takes an unusual set of circumstances for me to eat a waffle, and while I'm glad they seem to enrich the lives of others as a food staple, I could take them or leave them.

I am however attracted to the idea of "waffling" when it comes to the transmission of meaning between artist and audience. As a lyricist I try to give listeners some wiggle room, to elude isomorphisms, to make songs that evolve with repetition, where each listen is a different trail of bread crumbs to follow. Thus if you were trying to explain the meaning of one of my denser efforts, "Bug Bites," perhaps, to a 99 year old man or a lifeless rabbit, it might be sort of challenging. It might force you to waffle.

The deliberate obfuscation of meaning to create a vaguer but more uniquely personalized listening experience is a practice articulated most exquisitely in the work of Ghostface Killah. I don't hide my affection for Wu-Tang, Ghostface in particular, and I class him as not only the greatest rapper guy in history, but probably one of the most vital American artists of any kind over the last twenty years. Tony Starks' brilliance is demonstrated by his sophisticated feel for abstraction, alternating from brutal to delicate, and his ability to make tracks that get their point across holistically, atmospherically, and with as much verbal intrigue and misdirection as possible. Its not a style with no face, its a Ghostface, distinct, memorable, haunting, but impossible to pinpoint and wide open to interpretation. He glosses himself after his artistic impulse, and this is kind of what I'm getting at with Doc Waffles.

But that's not the story of why that's my rap name, which here follows:

In the summer of 2001 my homeboy Darren would visit my penthouse apartment at the Alphabet building to smoke Sunday morning blunts with my literary agent Julius Caesar McGee and I. We'd put on records and freestyle while we burned down. D was on his way to serve brunch to yuppies at the Whitney, so these sessions included an unusually high number of references to high tone breakfast fare and the hyperbolically upper class lifestyles we figured were no doubt being led by the Whitney patrons. "Sun Drench dip to Club Med, stretch benefits, holidays on hollandaise sauce: Eggs Benedict." Naive fare along those lines. We figured this kind of visceral, luxurious aesthetic was perfect for a couple of broke ass service industry job having unknown rappers, and started calling ourselves The Yolks. Darren adopted the name Soft Boiled Brown. Julius chose Jimmy Dean. And I decided to be Doc Waffles.

As a rapper I was just coming out of my nascency. I was beginning to finesse a style that felt earnest and my own. I'd honed my freestyle skills and was starting to get a rep on the battle scene as a cat who could light up the nicest if slept on. I was recording with Charles Scavellini and while I knew what we were making was a step towards making real album quality tracks, we had a long way to go before putting anything down worth dropping. I was still trying to pin down my identity as a performer.

I was entering a lot of battles, using a different name each time I got in one. Ivan Eye Exam. Richard Mutt. Morris Watts. Different names kept me slept on, and I loved it when other rappers would size me up, figure they come soft based on my less than imposing appearance, then look astonished when I bitch slapped them with the tooth decay. Like they never saw it coming. So when I entered a big money battle at a west side rec hall called The Cotillion Club I figured Doc Waffles would be a name that would encourage people to not take me seriously, and maybe let me sandbag my way through the first round.

The battle turned out to be kind of a big deal. All the top cats in the scene were there, and the battle was being judged by D12, whose celebrity at the time was peaking. I won't go into great detail but I rapped real swell that night, outing four well known and respected emcees before getting outed in the semis by Qwest McCody. I don't really know how I accomplished this. All I really remember doing that night was smoking massive amounts of dope with my crew in the back of The Cotillion Club, a delightful facility where you can get high openly and have your picture taken in front of a lurid, fifteen foot high air brushed mural of downtown Detroit, with the phrase, "Murder City" written on it.

The next week I went to go see Del the Funky Homosapian at St. Andrews. Word of my exploits at the Cotillion Club had spread, and now people were coming up wanting to tell me what a superlative emcee I was. Like, duh, man, Doc Waffles, the white kid from the Cotillion Club battle who deaded Swann, I thought you already knew. This was more shine than I was accustomed to, and honestly, I hoped it would be fleeting. I was getting ahead in the game partially on the strength of my anonymity I saw no reason to keep putting myself out there as Doc Waffles now that it meant other rappers would know I was nice and treat me with more considerable gravity. Besides, I really liked the name Richard Mutt (neck deep in Duchamp adulation at the time, and sinking) and a couple weeks later that's the handle I tried to use when entering a Mic Krush battle on the east side. As I was putting my name on the bracket one of the promoters approached me and scrutinized it.

"What the fuck are you doing, Waffles? Richard Mutt? You're a funny dude man." He scratched out what I had written and scrawled Waffles, MD. "Yeah, Doc! Let's get it!"

I won the battle that night, served some of your favorite local rappers back before they were your favorite local rappers, continued to get love on the scene, and I've stuck with Doc Waffles ever since. I should mention that if I had to do it all over again I would have avoided the theatricality of it all and been just plain Ben Ness from jump street. Future generations of rappers will all have just plain names like Billy Joel and Elton John and will mock my contemporaries and I for giving ourselves cheesy, indulgent titles.

Monday, September 21, 2009

New Doc Waffles - Bring Me the Robe

A relevant nugget from my forthcoming How To Shoot Quail album. Naive, perhaps, by my own impenetrable standards, but a jaunty condensation of my aesthetic agenda nonetheless. I'd like to dedicate this track to impoverished people around the globe who will go their entire lives lacking the means to record a song in which they demand an article of leisure wear be brought to them.

Saturday, August 22, 2009

My Own Private Shaolin: Investigative Reports

I'm almost positive my man Joe G. stole my Wu-Tang CDs in 1997. A sharp assembly it was too. Wu-Tang Forever, Liquid Swords, Return to the 36, Cuban Linx, and a scratched the fuck up copy of Ironman that only played the first 10 tracks and would skip violently right when the beat dropped on Daytona 500 (grrrr).

Note that at age 16 I was already in a nascent stage of Wu snobbery in not owning copies of either Tical or Enter the 36 Chambers. I knew those records by heart, of course, but everybody had them and I tried to be more adventurous. I nurtured a deliberately esoteric palette. Liquid Swords, not Enter the Wu, was the essential record for me at that time. It was autumn and the taste of cold air had me gassed for GZA's crisp, meditative imagery. Liquid Swords is a cold weather record to be sure. And it's a personal record too. Enter the Wu is a record you put on when your driving around with the boys. Liquid Swords will always be an album I like to listen to best by myself.

So my mom and dad went out of town one weekend and I threw a bash on Golf View and my Wu specific CD case got lifted. I was bitching about it to some dudes in my math class, opining specifically for my GZA holdings and kicking some of the lines that should have been filling my headphones. Joe G sat a few desks away. We weren't really friends and he had been at the party. Joe listened to hip hop and had a reputation for mischief. He was the enforcer of the hockey team and rolled with characters who stole people's car amplifiers and cell phones. I had reasons to be suspicious.

The next day Joe came up to me after class and hit me with a copy of Liquid Swords and some bunk ass Sunz of Man CD.

"I heard what you were saying about your CDs getting stolen man. That's fucked up. I had an extra copy of you can still have some Wu-Tang to bump. GZA shit is my favorite Wu shit too. 'I slayed mcs back in the room era...' thats my shit!"

He'd put both discs in a Bone Thugz CD case. I inspected the back of the Liquid Swords and saw some familiar scratches.

Naturally I was heated to surmise that this kid had boosted my jams, but I was also touched in a strange way. It was kind of rare to be that deep on Liquid Swords in suburban Detroit at that time and I'm sure Joe was conflicted when he discovered he'd riddled someone who appreciated the record as much he did. Who perhaps needed Liquid Swords it in the weirdly specific, elusive way Wu-Tang records make certain upper middle class white boys jones for them. He didn't feel like he had to restore my entire cache, but couldn't bear the thought of having taken Liquid Swords from a dude who loved that shit so stridently. I thanked him for the GZA. Joe was a feared hockey goon and I was first year varsity on the golf team. I was out of my weight class. That Maximillion was all I really needed anyway. I don't think it left my Discman for next five months.

Joe G. and I have become good friends, and I finally confronted him recently. He fiercely denied my accusations and told me he was offended that I would ever think he was greasy enough to take another man's Wu-Tang, even back in his reckless youth. I pointed out that he used to steal whole stereo systems out of cars, thereby removing all music from people's lives, Wu-Tang or otherwise, but he maintained his innocence when it came to the Clan.

His earnestness revealed just how personal his relationship with the Wu-Tang was, and this of course is the very essence of My Own Private Shaolin. I was tempted to believed him. Then in a masterpiece of comic timing my roommate Tony Snow came downstairs, and when he learned what we were talking about, he started to lash out at Joe for hijacking HIS Liquid Swords CD a few years later. We put the record on to illustrate just how fucked up and depraved it was to pilfer something so fresh. Joe kept on saying he had no idea what we were talking about. So who really knows.

The tone of the conversation turned good natured as Tony related a story about how he forgot to write a paper for his English class one time. He scribbled the lyrics to Killah Hills 10304 verbatim at the last minute on the bus and turned it in. His teacher didn't identify it as rip job, but still only gave Tony a C+. A C+! I'm not saying the Genius is Ezra Pound or anything, and something is doubtlessly lost when the rhymes aren't set to RZA guillotine synths. But come on now, a fucking C+ for Killa Hillz 10304?!? Those who can't teach gym teach composition.

Overnight lows in low 50s tonight in Detroit. Protect your necks.