by Chris Conde
The name Dr. Teeth might not ring any bells for you right away, but if hip-hop is at all on your radar, you’ve most likely seen a video or two from the Houston-based visual artist and director. From Mike Jones’ “My 64” to Dourough Music’s “Ice Cream Paint Job,” Dr. Teeth (born John D. Tucker) has helped shape the image of Southern rap with visually sharp videos and gritty hip-hop narratives for decades.
While he's worked with rap and hip-hop stars, Dr. Teeth also looks to the region for new talent — which is how he hooked up with San Antonio's Milli Mars a couple years ago. He said when he first heard Milli Mars' music, “My mouth hit the fucking floor. I couldn’t believe this was hip hop coming out of San Antonio.” Not long after, Dr. Teeth worked with the San Antonio rapper on a video for his track “Champion”.
Before Dr. Teeth became the revered music video director that he is today, he actually got his start as a sports producer, videographer and editor for Houston’s CBS affiliate, KHOU-11. Eventually he moved to Washington D.C. to work at BET headquarters producing Teen Summit and then became the senior producer for Rap City, the hip-hop video segment that showcased videos from well known and up and coming rappers for decades.
“When I got on at Rap City that’s kind of when organically things come into fruition for me,” Tucker told the Current. On the premieres of “Yo MTV raps” and “Rap City” Tucker explained that he never expected to work at B.E.T. let alone become a successful video director.
Tucker says that when he first worked with Mars for the "Champion" video, the rapper emphasized how important it was to include SA landmarks, neighborhoods and grit. Not surprising, considering Mars' latest video, for a track titled "San Anto", is punctuated by aerial shots of Alamo City and even opens with a scene featuring a Mariachi band.
Mars and Tucker are now collaborating on a second video, which Tucker hinted will have some "interesting concepts" but wouldn't give out any other details. The fact there's now this ongoing Houston-SA hip-hop connection might not seem like much, considering our cities aren't even that far apart. But when it comes to the rap game, it's not just that we're in Houston's shadow — in comparison to the talent and history and notoriety of the Bayou City's hip-hop scene, we're barely on the map.
Or at least we used to be. Collabs like this one could be a sign that change is coming, and hopefully that change is for the better.