Refresher Course on DJ Pooh by Devin Miles

Who's The Mack?

Amongst the producers who did a lot to form the sound of West Coast hip-hop in the ‘90s- Dre, DJ Quik, Ant Banks, etc.- one of the most notable in the field was DJ Pooh. Though he sometimes doesn’t get the same amount of credit as some of those other mentioned producers, he definitely has a spot amongst them.

Starting off in the game as a DJ for L.A.’s Uncle Jam’s Army in the ‘80s, Pooh later became a member of a production team known as The L.A. Posse (which also included frequent LL Cool J collaborator Bobcat). Incidentally, Pooh’s earliest work of note wasn’t for a West Coast-based artist, but on LL’s Bigger And Deffer, producing “.357- Break It On Down“. After the success of that album, Pooh went on to produce King Tee’s first two albums, 1988’s Act A Fool and 1990’s At Your Own Risk. While becoming loosely affiliated with the Ruthless Organization (which included making contributions to Eazy-E’s “Eazy-Duz-It”), he connected most with Ice Cube while he was still a member of N.W.A. Once Cube left on his solo endeavor in late-‘89, Pooh opted to work with him more from there. This began the foundation for what has become some of Pooh’s most-recognized production.

In addition to being a talented producer, Pooh also had a comedic side to him, which was first exposed in Cube’s “Who’s The Mack” video, from AmeriKKKa’s Most Wanted. In it, Pooh played all three of the “mack” characters- the pimp, the homeless guy, and the slick-talking dude at the club- that took advantage of whomever they could get over on. As that video was rotating, Cube reconnected Pooh with Bobcat and another producer, Rashad. Together, they were known as The Boogie Men, who first collabed to work on I Wish My Brother George Was Here, the debut album by Cube’s cousin Del Tha Funkee Homosapien. After that, and as Cube and his music was headed back West, he needed a new team to handle production for his second album Death Certificate. Along with Sir Jinx, The Boogie Men did a great deal of the tracks on that album, now considered a classic (and depending on who you ask, Cube’s best).

Following the Death Certificate album, Pooh and Boogie Men continued to work closely with Cube and his artists, which included Da Lench Mob, Yo-Yo, Kam, and Threat. Pooh’s biggest hit record came in the form of Cube’s “It Was A Good Day” from The Predator, when it became a Top 20 single and MTV staple in 1993. In ’93, he also continued to do production for King Tee, hooking up a sizable part of Tha Triflin’ Album, including the single “I Got It Bad Y’all” which introduced Tha Alkaholiks. During this time, he was also portraying a role similar to one of his “mack” characters in commercials for St. Ides. Amongst all of these moves being made, Pooh was also working on a script for a movie that would become a long-running cult classic.

Friday was co-written by Pooh and Ice Cube, and was released in early-1995. Starring Cube and Chris Tucker, it wasn’t a box-office monster, but it’s developed and maintained quite the following over the years. Much of this was due to its quotables and characters that were mostly created by Pooh, who had a small-yet-memorable role as “Red”. Two often-quoted parts of the film involve his character- one being Chris Tucker’s “you got knocked the fuck out!” after Red gets uppercutted into the air by “Debo”, and the other being “my grandmama gave me that chain!”, which Red says after getting it snatched by Debo later in the movie. However, issues surrounding Friday which involved both money and credit created a splinter in Pooh’s friendship with Cube, and Pooh took his business elsewhere.

 

With Dr. Dre leaving Death Row Records in early ’96, Pooh became the anchor for Snoop Dogg’s sophomore album, Tha Doggfather. The demand was high for Snoop to follow up on his classic debut, and the doubt was high, with people generally slow to accept Snoop with no Dre on the boards. Pooh produced the bulk of the album, which often comes to mind as one of hip-hop’s most noted instances of the “sophomore jinx”. While Pooh had produced a classic track for Tha Dogg Pound a year prior (the controversial “New York, New York”), the magic just wasn’t there for the Snoop project. Meanwhile, Pooh had inked an album deal with Atlantic Records. In the summer of ’97, he dropped Bad Newz Travels Fast, which showcased his production talents and prominently featured artists such as Threat and Kam (who’d also fallen out with Cube by then). While the album performed modestly, the highlight of it was Kam’s Cube dis “Whoop Whoop!”

Pooh later got back into the screenwriting and directing, with both the perennial BET favorite 3 Strikes in 2000 and the Dre & Snoop-starred The Wash in ‘01. Around 2000, he and Cube found time to patch up their differences, and according to Pooh, plan to work together again. In recent years, Pooh has entered other fields, most notably writing the script and creating characters for the video game Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas. He hasn’t actively done much production, mostly due to his growing dislike of the dealings of the music industry. Despite his love of music and his continuing support of new artists (especially those from his hometown), he cites that the business side of things has become insufferable, and so he has turned his interests and focus in other directions.

Whether or not he makes another record or heavily involves himself in the game ever again, DJ Pooh played a major part in not only West Coast hip-hop, but early-to-mid-‘90s hip-hop as a whole. Salute!    

Ya Man,

Devin Miles  

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~ by Professor Mike on January 12, 2011.

3 Responses to “Refresher Course on DJ Pooh by Devin Miles”

  1. Excellent overview, a name I admit that sometimes falls out of my sight. Timee to dig in the crates and reunite with some memories.

  2. NOW THATS HOW YOU BREAK IT DOWN AND LET IT BE BROKE

  3. det is wc

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