Matt “Doo” Reid (March 2nd, 1971 – December 12th, 1998)
One of the most important and yet underrated hip hop visual artists since the days of Basquiat, Haring, and Quinones.
The first the public really had a chance to see any of his art was in the December ’93 issue of Beat Down Magazine (there may have been more than just this one drawing):
Earlier that year, Matty Reid, who had been calling himself Matt Doo (short for Doodle) linked up with schoolmate Gerard “G-Young” Young and formed a business together:
They were makin’ art for anything, like shirts and jackets…:
Logos and paintings…(like this one done for The Boom Poetic poetry crew, letters by G-Young, centerpiece by Matt):
Even random sketches… (eventually used for CeStyle of Total Pack’s Packhouse Music 1995-1998 EP in 2014):
But everything changed the following year when Matt booked a gig doing the cover to Organized Konfusion’s second LP:
“Matt Doo was the artist who painted the album cover. He was from Queens as well, so there was the fabric there of him being a real b-boy. He walked from one part of Queens to the next part of Queens to be at the jam, or be up in the mix of action. He was the true sense of that dude who was in a cypher absorbing the entire culture. So when he approached us about doing the record [cover], it really came from a place of, ‘You guys take me to a place in my spirit and my soul with what y’all do, and I think I can capture the essence of what this duo is about, and how your music moves me.’ He put his heart and soul into this album cover. Literally. Every aspect of this cover was maniacal, and intricately thought about. Where the hammer would be placed, or the pig and the cop and the things along the path that you see on the cover, as well as the color technique. The actual oil painting is a big, 30’’ by 30’’ oil painting, then they took a photograph of the painting [for the album cover]. That in itself is bananas. When I tell people it’s an actual painting [they can’t believe it]. His brother has the painting.” ~ Pharoahe Monch
In ’95 there were a couple more obscure releases, like this Teaser Tape for Craig Mack’s Project Funk Da World LP:
And also a 12″ by The F.L.A.M. Rotation, entitled Places:
And possibly Supernatural’s Buddah Blessed It. Art for that project is attributed to Beef Sausage, Dooable Arts, & Jennifer Roddie but at the time of the this writing it’s unsure as to what Matt’s contribution was here, if anything.
The magazine appearances returned that year as well, with M. Reid’s take on Mobb Deep’s Shook Ones, in Rap Pages March ’95 issue:
Here’s a reference photo for the man the middle, Frank Silvah, chillin’ in PS 147, Queens:
And then continuing on with OutKast’s Benz or Beamer, in the June ’95 issue:
Matt’s work graced the cover of the 5th Year Anniversary issue of Rap Pages in October of the next year (there potentially had been more Rap Pages and / or other magazine appearances as well):
By ’97, Matt and G were both mostly working solo, still doing flyers on the side (one Matty did, possibly earlier, was for the Free Mumia movement), as well as projects for just about anybody who contacted them:
Other than the Stress cover, Matty’s other most recognized work then happened alongside graffiti writer Ewok, when they were both commissioned to do the cover to Company Flow’s Funcrusher Plus LP:
It was then that Doo did what is considered one of his best and less celebrated pieces, for the Tags of the Times compilation, at the top of ’98:
Another dropped during the middle of that year, the U-N-I vs. All mixtape:
Meanwhile, Gerard had been busy with a couple Mos Def singles. This one:
As well as this one with Talib Kweli:
Then, on December 12th, 1998, Matt decided to end his life. He left behind a daughter, Mai, as well as a brother, Garnet.
Since few pictures of him exist online, here he is again. Apparently someone decided he needed to be wearin’ Prince Po’s suit:
His eulogy card read:
“Lord it’s so hard, living in this life.
A constant struggle each and every day.
Some wonder why I’d rather die,
than to continue living this way.
Many are blind and cannot find the truth,
’cause no one seems to really know.
But I won’t accept that this is how it’s gon’ be.
Devil you gotta let me and my people go.
’cause I wanna be free, completely free.
Lord won’t you please come and save me.
I wanna be free, totally free.
I’m not gon’ let this world worry me.” ~ Goodie M.o.B.
One last picture of him in the late nineties:
A little over a month after Matt’s death saw the compilation Tags of the Times 2.0, showcasing what became the last cover that he worked on:
Meanwhile, even before his funeral, commissioned pieces went missing, along with some of Doo’s own personal work. Not much else is known about the man, his art or his suicide.
Young has continued on sporadically, first with a compilation in ’99:
Which led to work with Jigmastas the following year:
And again the year after that:
On into the new millennium:
By this time, 2001, G had started releasing music under the name Ge-Ology, illustrating the cover to his debut single:
As well as his follow up 12″, months later:
And then a debut LP in 2005:
Ge showed back up on the scene last year to provide cover art to this previously unreleased jazz album:
And finally here he is, the surviving half of Dooable Arts, talking about his business partner and friend:
The loss of Matt Doo and the lack of any future work he may have blessed us with has been felt throughout the world.
Liner notes to Co-Flow’s ’99 instrumental LP, Little Johnny From the Hospitul:
“I dedicate this to Matt Doo (thank you), my name is El-P, I produce and I rap too.” ~ El-P on Tuned Mass Damper
Interviewer: “Sorry if I pass for an European ignorant, but you dedicated Tuned Mass Damper and [Company Flow’s] Little Johnny [From the Hospitul] to Matt Doo. Who was he exactly?”
El-P: “Matt Doo did the cover for Funcrusher Plus and also Organized Konfusion’s Extinction Agenda. A very talented guy who died. He got shot.”
“Bet you Garnet Reid got a Matt Doo tattoo.” ~ Talib Kweli on Holy Moly
“I just spoke to [Garnet], and he was like, ‘every day I see it, it reminds me of Matt Doo. I gotta walk past it every day.’ Matt Doo committed suicide not long after working with us on that cover. His brother has a couple more pieces of his, [and he also did Company Flow’s Funcrusher Plus cover]. He’s in my opinion one of the most incredible artists of our time. I told his brother, if we’re gonna do shows or listenings or whatever to celebrate [the 20th anniversary of] this album, I think that cover [and Matt’s work] is a big part of translating our [music visually]. We weren’t able to be that creative with the visuals yet. For the video, you just did what everybody else did—you rapped in it. And you change your fuckin’ clothes a couple times. But that cover helped people be like, ‘this motherfucker Prince Po is beyond the universe with his shit. These dudes are trying to pave a path from the projects in the background to you. Look at where they’re coming from.’ He played a big part in translating the sound of this album to the audience. We’re just blessed that the cover gets celebrated, and the album gets celebrated. It’s the biggest thank you.” ~ Pharoahe Monch
The song Be Easy by Prince Po is a tribute and dedication to Matt Doo.
Download all the artwork we have in the Matt Doo Collection thus far here.
As always, any additional information, quality upgrades, and any other mentions, articles or scans would be appreciated. Peace.