For Funkdoobiest members Sondoobie and DJ Ralph M., it just doesn’t seem the same without Tomahawk Funk in the fold.
Tyrone “Tomahawk Funk” Pachenco, born on the Manderson Reservation in South Dakota and raised in Los Angeles, recently left the manic rap trio to help his wife raise their infant son. His longtime friends, Ralph “DJ Ralph M.” Medrano and Jason “Sondoobie” Vasquez, are carrying the hip-hop torch in Pachenco’s honor on the group’s third album, “The Troubleshooters” (due Feb. 10 on Buzztone/RCA).
“It’s down to me and Ralph; T-Funk is doing his thing,” Sondoobie said recently, “so Ralph and I decided to pick it up. T-Funk will always be part of Funkdoobiest forever.
“We’re so used to having T. around, just building with him. It took Ralph and me a couple of months before it sunk in. We’re like, ‘Man, we miss T.’ We looked at each other and said, ‘We should do a song and dedicate it to him.’ I came up with ‘Five Deadly Indians’ and Ralph came up with the beat. It’s one of my favorite songs on the album.”
Despite Tomahawk Funk’s absence, Funkdoobiest picks up its brand of slicing, dicing Latin-flavored hip-hop where it left off in 1995 with “Brothas Doobie” and their 1993 gold-selling debut album “Which Doobie U B?”
“The elements are all still there,” Sondoobie said. “When you hear the songs, we have T. in mind at all times. I talk to him every day. He’s heard the album and said we did a great job. We’re trying to fly him out here for the second video, ‘Act On It.’ We’ve been blessed. I’m real excited about this album, and I want everyone to know that Funkdoobiest hasn’t gone anywhere.”
All the changes – Tomahawk Funk’s departure and Funkdoobiest’s move to a new label (from Immortal/Epic to Buzztone/RCA) – and three years between albums would demoralize most bands, but Sondoobie said the exact opposite happened.
“We had a lot of ups and downs, as far as socially, like in the press and show business,” he said. “But basically, we had a lot of Funkdoobiest fans out there we didn’t quite know about, and a lot of people were like, ‘Hip-hop would really embrace y’all if you guys came back with a third album.’
“Ralph and I have been working for two years, working with producers and MCs from the east and west coasts, this way no element would be left out. We had fun with everyone, like Daz Dillinger from Tha Dogg Pound and Death Row to Kam, all the way from Ski to Bad Boy, Rockafella, Hurricane G. At the same time, we tried to keep it universal.”
In a way, “The Troubleshooters” feels like the first “real” Funkdoobiest album, Sondoobie said. They worked for the first time without Cypress Hill’s DJ Muggs, who nurtured their early career.
“Everything was arranged and composed by Funkdoobiest,” Sondoobie said. “I left all the politics at the door when we entered the studio, and I just went for broke. With Ralph M. and his insight and mine, together we knew where we wanted to go with it.
“We’re trying to show people that Funkdoobiest’s still off-the-wall bugged. We break all the rules, but in the process we don’t hurt anybody. We’re just Latino hip-hop boys having fun in the hip-hop game. We’re not really concerned with record sales or concerned with fame. I guess we’re concerned with getting away with enough shit. We created this album in the mind of the masses and the people. I just hope everybody enjoys it.”
BWF (before we forget): The Funkdoobiest album discography – “Which Doobie B U?” (Epic, 1993); “Brothas Doobie” (Immortal/Epic, 1995); “The Troubleshooters” (Buzztone/RCA, 1998).
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