Doug E. Fresh’s peers have dubbed him the “World’s Greatest Entertainer” and the “Original Human Beatbox.” During his nearly 40-year career, he has etched himself into the annals of music history with his creation of the human beatbox art form, whereby he vocally simulates the sound of drums and other musical instruments with stunning accuracy. His unrivaled skill and myriad talents have resulted in an enduring legacy, which continues to break new ground.
A pioneering hip-hop artist, Fresh possesses the unrivaled ability to captivate audiences with or without a musical backing track and has performed at the request of US Presidents, foreign dignitaries, and Saints. As a television personality and producer, he has appeared as a performer and musical mentor on Fox’s “American Idol,” hosted HBO’s “Bad Boys of Comedy,” served as one of three celebrity judges on BET’s “Showtime at the Apollo,” and earned three consecutive executive producer credits for his work on BET’s newly reprised “Soul Train Awards.” He has also
launched marketing campaigns for brands like McDonald’s, Toyota, and Febreze. As an entrepreneur, he has established several commercial enterprises, namely an eponymous restaurant in New York City and multiple real estate development projects.
Proudly born and raised in Harlem, New York, Fresh shot from local phenomenon to nationally recognized talent with the help of an appearance in the 1984 cult classic movie “Beat Street.” By 1985, Fresh had become one of hip- hop’s biggest international stars, thanks to the success of his classics, “The Show” and “La Di Da Di,” recorded with his Get Fresh Crew, including MC Ricky D (a.k.a. Slick Rick). As highlighted in a 2019 Wall Street Journal article and in a 2014 TED Talk by multi-platinum music producer Mark Ronson, “La Di Da Di” holds the distinct honor of being the fifth most-sampled song in the history of music with use by Mariah Carey, Snoop Dogg, Miley Cyrus, LL Cool J, Will Smith, and more than 1000 other acts.
In the late 2000’s, Fresh’s multi-generational popularity spawned several tribute songs, most notably, the 2009 breakout hit “Teach Me How to Dougie,” by LA rap collective Cali Swag District. The song birthed a viral dance craze called “The Dougie,” an ode to moves Fresh created in the 1980s, which have since been adapted and performed by an unlikely bevy of celebrities ranging from journalists Wolf Blitzer and Barbara Walters to superstars Justin Bieber and Beyonce.
Among the many awards Fresh has accumulated over the years, he is a Hip Hop Hall of Fame inductee; a BET Hip Hop Awards’ Icon honoree; and a recipient of the Source Awards’ Lifetime Achievement honor. Fresh made history as the first rapper booked to perform in Africa and the first rapper to perform at the United Nations, alongside his longtime friend and collaborator Stevie Wonder.
With the same ease that he takes the mic, Fresh takes on social responsibility. He wrote a children’s book entitled “Think Again,” as part of the Scholastic Publishing series, “Hip Kid Hop.” The book promotes unity and acceptance through the story of two kids who surmount racial antagonism to become friends. A tireless, well-documented activist, Fresh has fought against racism, drugs, illiteracy, police brutality and homelessness in communities in need around the world. A vocal proponent of artists’ rights, he was a member of the board of directors of the Artist Empowerment Coalition, an organization founded by his dearly departed friend, Prince, to assist artists in retaining their intellectual property.
Fresh currently serves as Vice President and Co-founder of the Hip Hop Public Health (HHPH) nonprofit whose mission is to end health illiteracy through music and to foster positive health behavior changes, beginning with school-aged children. In his role with HHPH, he has worked directly with former First Lady Michelle Obama and her “Let’s Move” campaign, co-producing the soundtrack for the movement.
To date, Doug E. Fresh is one of the most actively touring musicians across all genres, averaging a whopping 200 live, domestic performances per year for the past two decades. A tireless act who remains highly relevant and on the pulse of innovation, Fresh plans to continue to use his gifts to be of service to others. “I’ve always lived my life saying I don’t want to be financially rich and spiritually bankrupt,” he says. “So most of my decisions lean toward what’s better for the spiritual growth of others and for myself, and toward creating the best celebrations of life. When I make music, I’ve always been about trying to elevate the culture. Hip-hop is supposed to uplift, to educate people on a higher level, and to make change.”