Aaron Matthews prefers paisley suits and pickaxes.
The artist formerly known as Doey Rock first made his name in E-40’s Sick Wid It camp, hailing from Sacramento while the rest repped the East Bay. But don’t be fooled by the Norcal roots, his West Coast twang sounds equally comfortable over mellow soul samples and frantic slaps. Last year, Doe made his name outside of the Bay last year with “Sunset Strip”, a Raekwon-assisted mid-afternoon mire. The rapper’s latest mixtape, Black Suits and Shovels aims to turn the Doey Rock name to pine, and carve a new niche for the rapper as meditative older god.
The tape mines “Strip’s” warm weather reflections and offers inventive imagery a la Rae, minus the former’s slanguage. Over the funereal organs of “Dig It”, Doe presents compelling evidence for cosigns from both 40 Water and the Chef: “speak with an endless wit/but it’s more than slick rhetoric/I’m living every letter/bodies on my Sharpie/birdies beggin me to permanent mark ‘em”. On the mellow “Passport”, Doe laments having “rich thoughts but dough that’s still teething”; “Ready Set Hustle” combines airy Isley bros guitar and piano keys with urgent, motivational rhyming. The tape’s production mines the relaxed jazz and lazy funk that Curren$y and the Jets made their name on, but the focal point remains Doe’s precise, thoughtful rapping.
There’s a mutual recognition between Doe and his Shaolin mentor as veterans of the street life. But unlike Shallah, Doe has no desire to dwell on his corner days. For now, it’s weather, shows, hoes and scythe rhymes. And he’s hopeful on “Intelligent Hoodlum”: Doe ‘wasn’t born with silver spoons but [his] next baby might”. Doey wouldn’t have it any other way.