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by Joseph Mandat
27 May, 2003@12:00 am
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Since the opening bars of “Stranded on Death Row”, Kurupt has had heads open.  Yet, despite this fact, Kurupt’s solo career has generated a decline in interest with each successive release. Though the West Coast’s kin of Keith Murray continues to stay visible, most of that can be attributed to all of the drama, rumors, innuendo and scandal he can’t seem to stay away from.

On Kurupt’s latest outing, Against The Grain, Young Gotti serves up an album chocked full of the expected—hardcore verbiage, but again without consistent production (Daz we need you).  The party gets unceremoniously started with “Load Up”, a lazy bass line driven track with a dated production style that would make Rodney O smack Joe Cooley.  Unfortunately antiquated production becomes a disturbing trend within the album; exemplified by “Gangsta Noize” (which is exactly that) and “U Ain’t Tha Homie”, where Kurupt’s lyrics erupt like a volcano, but is matched up with another snoozer behind the boards.  Just when you think things couldn’t get any worse, Kurupt and the DPG clique do the unimaginable, and perform their own rendition of Bobby Brown’s “My Prerogative” with “Gangsta Perogative”, which even without a Ja Rule appearance is painfully corny.

However, like his last few solo-outings, Tha Kingpin continues to keep us interested due to flashes of his old self.  An unlikely standout track is the soulful “One, Two” feat. Everlast, as his gloomy blues guitar riffs compliment Kurupt nicely and “I Keep Tryin’”, where Kurupt poignantly laments, “what’s next/more complex/situations/variations/different obstacles facin’/or so it seems/I’m kicked out/I’m only 18/life’s a scheme/money and caviar dreams/any hesitation/money motivation/secure your situation/keep racing/and paper chasing/I’m a far ways from home/but I’m goin’ do it on my own.”  Yet, Kurupt saves the best for last, as the LP’s closer, “Don’t Go To Sleep” features a union between the DPG and the late great 2Pac.  Over a rattling percussion break and a dark bass groove, Pac steals the show, “Pictures are plenty/sippin’ my glass full of Henney/hands on my semi/automatic/kill for pennies/approach for contact/since I’m live/I multiply/as soon as I open fire/niggas die with open eyes/scared to take a nap/it’s a trap/a long maze/dreamin’ of getting stacks/makin’ scratch the wrong way/what the song say?/we murder muthafuckas daily/blackout/blow the track out/my lyrics never fail me/I inhale strong weed/to release the stress?”

Filled with peaks and valleys, Hip Hop’s fickle audience is going to expect more from Kurupt with Against The Grain.  And with over 11 years of experience in this game, they should. 

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