Like those who enjoy the music of Dooley-O's labelmate Edan, listeners who pick up Dooley-O's new I Gotcha can be forgiven for thinking they've stumbled onto some lost treasure from the late '80s. But while at least part of Edan's appeal comes from the sheer incongruity of a goofy-looking, goofy-sounding Berklee School Of Music-trained white kid from Boston channeling the super-scientific rhyme styles of Kool G Rap and Rakim, Dooley-O comes about his connection with rap's golden age more directly. Recorded in 1988 and 1989 in the hip-hop boondocks of Connecticut, Dooley-O's "Watch My Moves" was the first single released in Stones Throw's Hip-Hop Archival/Revival Project, and it was followed by a 2003 album of similarly resurrected vintage Dooley-O material, Watch My Moves 1990.
Now I Gotcha, Dooley-O's first album of new material, arrives with one foot in the golden age and the other in the old school, especially on the disc's irresistible first single, "Soaps." Built around a ridiculously fat, funky EPMD bass groove, the song delivers an irreverent verbal smackdown to an apathetic couch potato too addicted to soap operas, talk shows, reality television, and whatever else is on to attend to her womanly duties: fixing Dooley dinner and gratifying him sexually. Dooley shifts from gleefully regressive domestic comedy to romantic psychodrama on the next track, "I Don't Wanna Lose You," but his outsized charisma, goofy humor, and day-glo personality—as big and gaudy as a thick gold chain—keeps the song from getting too somber. The rest of the album doesn't deliver quite as potent a blast of retro fun, but it's nevertheless a consistent delight that makes a virtue of its disconnect from hip-hop's corrupted present. On the title track, Dooley-O offers to lend listeners money, share their beefs, pick up the check, hide them from the police, cut their hair, and much more. It's charming of him to offer, but most progressive hip-hop heads will be perfectly willing to settle for an extraordinarily likeable album of dope beats and rhymes.