August 14, 2008

‘Big Doc’ on the Case — Dentist Produces Album of Child-Oriented Rap Music

By Cindy Wolff

Underneath the purple, paper lab coat, behind the medical mask, Dr. Marrio Thomas hears the rhymes of rap music.

The dentist finds the epic struggles of pain, shame, anger and frustration in an abscessed molar the way a gangsta rapper hears it in a gunshot.

Thomas fuses his message of proper dental care with a dream of being a rap star in a new album set for release next month called Big Doc .

All but two songs have a dental theme. Some titles: "Pulling Teeth for the Hood,""Brush Yo Donkey Teeth,""Call Big Doc."

The 37-year-old East Memphis dentist, father of four girls, knows he's not edgy. No bad attitude or in-your-face defiance of conventions and authority. No profanity, putting women down or sexual innuendo. He wears Croc shoes and khaki pants most days.

His sound is rap for the Barney crowd. Thomas wants to reach young children, get them dancing while they take pride in their oral hygiene. Floss, brush and rap.

After he rips off his paper coat, Thomas dons baggy, but not saggy pants, a gold chain, shiny rings and sunglasses.

He's performed at nearly a dozen local junior high schools but his producer, who goes by the name Enigma, said Big Doc will find his best market with an even younger crowd.

"His music can go on Disney Channel," said Enigma, who operates The Lion's Den recording studio in Orange Mound. "Teenagers don't buy music. Parents buy music and they want to buy something that they don't mind listening to with their kids."

Thomas grew up the 11th of 16 children in a South Memphis home.

The children woke up early every morning, rode double-stacked in the back seat (younger ones sitting in older ones' laps) down to a farm his father leased in Mississippi.

They slopped hogs, fed cows, mended fences, hand-picked four acres of corn every summer. His father had two dump trucks that the boys filled with debris from construction sites.

Each child was responsible for shelling a garbage bag of purple hull peas every summer.

"Mom and dad taught us the value of hard work," Thomas said. "We knew we had to do things right. There wasn't room for error."

Thomas found his first dream in seventh grade with a throbbing toothache.

"I'd never felt pain like that in my life," said Thomas. "The tooth was bad, so the dentist pulled it. It was instant relief."

He started as a dentist in a practice in Orange Mound.

Thomas tended people with swollen jaws from toothaches, people with no money who would rather pull a tooth than save it.

"I watched people struggle with their pain and then live without teeth," Thomas said. "I just got tired of it and decided that I needed to reach children and get them to see how important it is to take care of their teeth."

Three years ago he opened his own practice in East Memphis near Target: Gentle Dental.

He doesn't plan on leaving his dental practice, even if his rap music career is successful. He still finds his best song material in his dental chair, in the holes in people's teeth.

- Cindy Wolff: 529-2378


Here come's Big Doc

Big Doc's CD will be available online next month at

To see a link to his video "Call Big Doc," visit

Originally published by Cindy Wolff /[email protected] .

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