Rolling Stone reports that hip-hop artist Tim Dog (Timothy Blair) has died. Reportedly, this was due to complications from diabetes and a recent seizure. He was 46 years old.
Hailing from hip-hop’s storied genre-nurturing community of the Bronx, Blair initially came to fame in the early 1990s with his hyper-antagonistic recording, “F**k Compton”. The 1991 song became a hot topic in hip-hop’s underground listening circles, bypassing radio play. Its polarizing title and lyrics made the song an anthem for anyone in hip-hop’s northeastern communities who were skeptical (or outright hostile) to the California-based acts that were becoming more commercially popular in the industry.
"Having that gang war? We wanna know what you're fighting for... Fighting over colors? All that gang sh*t's for dumb mother_______"-- Tim Dog, "F@#! Compton", 1991
Singled out by Blair in the song were members of N.W.A.: Eazy-E, Dr. Dre’, DJ Yella, and MC Ren (by this time, Ice Cube had already left the group). On Blair’s debut album, Penicillin on Wax, he also took shots at DJ Quik and MC Hammer. Soon, Blair found himself on the receiving end of disses by Quik, MC Eiht of Compton's Most Wanted, Dr. Dre and Snoop Dogg. The latter pair lampooned Blair in the song and video “Dre Day”. A press conference arranged by Ice-T producer Afrika Islam and members of the hip-hop cultural fraternity The Zulu Nation seemed to ease some of the tensions among select artists. Blair would made a cameo appearance in a music video for Los Angeles act (and label mates) Cypress Hill.
While fully enmeshing himself in the East-vs.-West cultural storm, Blair apparently passed on the chance to take his beef to a physical level when he reportedly bailed out on participating in a charity boxing match featuring hip-hop performers (fellow East Coaster and exhibition participant Freddie Foxxx reportedly criticized his absence).
Perhaps ironically, Blair found an unlikely supporter during the ongoing East/West hostilities that he helped to initiate. In a story reiterated by Digital Underground founder Shock G, after performing at a San Francisco nightclub circa 1992, Blair was allegedly targeted for a lethal assault by some men who felt Blair’s offense required him to be “taken out”. However, Blair purportedly found himself being rescued by Underground member Tupac Shakur (at this time, Shakur had yet to be signed to Death Row Records or become embroiled in a feud with Notorious B.I.G.). Blair would give a written shout-out to Shakur in the liner notes to his second LP, Do or Die (The LP featured a guest appearance by fellow Bronx booster KRS-One).
Blair was an affiliated member of the hip-hop group The Ultramagnetic MCs (“Funky”) but he was not an original member of the band. Not appearing on the group's debut LP Critical Beatdown (Next Plateau Records, 1988) at all, he reportedly appeared on a B-side remix circa 1989, but by the time of the group’s second LP, Funk Your Head Up (Mercury Records, 1992), Blair had been signed to Ruffhouse/Columbia as a solo act, which may have had something to do with his limited presence on the album. The mini-reunion of "Ultra" was formed as a duo with Ultramagnetics cofounder Kool Keith and Blair in the late 1990s when the original core group had broken up.
Clearly, Blair caught the worst of the beef scenarios—not because of what any individual rapper did to him, but basically "falling off"
career-wise after putting out two mildly-selling albums for Columbia. In subsequent years, he would surface with new material via obscure indie labels on occasion, and seemed relegated to the fringes of the industry, either as a reluctant nostalgia act or an "underground for life" hanger-on.
A featured interview on an NBC Dateline news special was, in retrospect, a sad coda to end his life on. In a stranger-than-fiction turn of events, Blair was found liable for over $30,000 to a woman who claimed that he scammed her after the two of them began dating via an online dating service. Reportedly, Blair pled guilty to grand larceny.