One-hit wonders are a dime a dozen in hip-hop, but few have left as lasting an impression as Tim Dog’s “Fuck Compton.” Heavyweights like Nas (“Where Are They Now”) and Eminem (“Ricky Ticky Toc”) even reference him, but as far more than just a footnote in hip-hop history. Without intending to “Fuck Compton” single-handedly set-off one of rap’s greatest beefs--the east coast/west coast rivalry that turned deadly towards the latter 90s.
As the crew behind the short-lived phenomenon that was Tim Dog (Timothy Blair), Ultramagnetic indirectly played a role. It began with “A Chorus Line,” the B-side of Ultra’s “Travelling at the Speed of Thought” featuring the then-unknown Bronx rapper, who was a friend and roommate of Ced Gee. While shopping a deal for him at Columbia Records, A&R rep Kurt “Juice” Woodley told Ced to recut the record as a diss of N.W.A., who were the ruling the charts at the time. Keeping the basic beat, based off a loop from “Cussin’, Cryin’, and Carryin’ On” (Pompeii Records, 1969) by Ike and Tina Turner, the producer simply added the classic keyboard riff from ESG’s “U.F.O,” (99 Records, 1981). On the lyrical tip, meanwhile, Tim didn’t pull any punches, proceeding to diss Dr. Dre, Eazy, Cube, and even Dre’s girlfriend at the time, Michel’le, to produce the scathing “Fuck Compton,” a cheap marketing ploy that paid off in spades. Toppling N.W.A. from the top of the Billboard rap charts, the banging single also set the streets on fire, paving the way for a deal for Tim Dog’s debut LP, Penicillin on Wax (Ruffhouse/Columbia, 1991), produced entirely by Ced Gee.
But it’s one thing to get in the game by taking out the top seed, and something else entirely to try to define your whole career by a diss. While heads were understandably amped by the raw, underground sound of “Fuck Compton,” Tim proved to be a one-trick pony. Despite tight production by Ced Gee, the album suffered from the Dog’s one-dimensional bark, inevitably directed at N.W.A. and other west coast artists such as DJ Quik, as well as his monotonous rhyme style that sounded dated. It’s too bad, too, because Tim seemed to live up to his hardcore street image—epitomized by some of the scariest album art in existence, depicting the rapper and his thug army. Though he sold enough records to get a second chance on Do or Die (Ruffhouse/Columbia, 1993), rap was sailing on without him as an explosion of new talent and styles took center stage. Following the break-up of Ultramagnetic, Tim briefly went on to form a duo with Kool Keith called Ultra, before settling into a solo career that went nowhere fast.
But Tim Dog’s story doesn’t end there. When the music wasn’t supporting him, he turned back to hustling, getting involved in an online dating scam in which he bilked a Mississippi woman out of $32,000. In order to beat the rap, he even faked his own death. It took an investigation by NBC’s Dateline on September 15, 2014, to finally determine that Tim Dog had, in fact, passed away in Atlanta the previous year due to complications from diabetes.
While many west coast artists including DJ Quik and Ice Cube responded to Tim Dog’s disses on tracks, Dr. Dre never addressed it directly preferring to let another dog—Snoop—do the honors on “Dre Day” off the multi-platinum album, The Chronic (Death Row/Interscope, 1992).