Doug E. Fresh & the Get Fresh Crew Biography

Douglas E. Davis, 17 September 1966, St. Thomas, Virgin Islands, though he grew up in the Bronx and Harlem districts of New York, USA. Self-proclaimed as The Original Human Beatbox, i.e. being able to imitate the sound of a rhythm machine, Fresh broke through in 1985 with the release of one of rap’s classic tracks, ‘The Show’. Joined by partner MC Ricky D (aka Slick Rick), the single matched rhymes with a bizarre array of human sound effects, courtesy of Fresh. It marked a notable departure in rap’s development, and was so distinctive it began a small flurry of similarly inclined rappers, as well as Salt-N-Pepa’s answer record, ‘Showstopper’. Despite its impact, it was a song that was hardly representative of Fresh fare: far too much of his recorded material was workmanlike and soundalike. A debut album included live contributions from Bernard Wright (synthesiser) and veteran jazz man Jimmy Owens (trumpet), as well as a dubious anti-abortion track. The follow-up saw him allied to Public Enemy’s Bomb Squad production team.

To give him his due Fresh was very nearly rap’s first superstar, but rather than capitalise on ‘The Show’, he would end up in court trying to sue Reality Records for non-payment of royalties on the song. He was also the first genuine rapper to appear at Jamaica’s Reggae Sunsplash festival, stopping in the West Indies long enough to record alongside Papa San and Cocoa Tea. He made something of a comeback at the end of 1993 with the release of party record ‘I-Right (Alright)’, after he was reunited with Slick Rick (recently returned from a period of incarceration), and signed with Gee Street Records. Fresh has also enjoyed the distinction of seeing a ‘Doug E. Fresh’ switch added to the Oberheim Emulator, in order to provide samples of his human beat box talents. OnPlay Fresh employed Luther Campbell of 2 Live Crew to add a gangsta edge.

Source: The Encyclopedia of Popular Music by Colin Larkin. Licensed from Muze.