Over the past fifteen years, Kurupt has made a name for himself in Hip-Hop. With success a both a soloist and part of the group Tha Dogg Pound, his name garnishes some attention. As of late, Kurupt has been using his rep to push projects from LA to Philly. With his latest effort, he partners up with rapper/producer J. Wells to create Digital Smoke. Bland describes this album to a tee. With nothing particularly impressive or repulsive, it is borderline boring.
Let’s face it, the majority of Kurupt’s reputation as a lyricist came pre-1995 and since then, it has been hit or miss. In the last few years there have been many misses with his over the top “profanity-gangster-b**ches-laced” verses. While cursing has been in Hip-Hop for decades there’s a fine line between creative license and your listeners having to question if you have anything real to talk about. It’s also difficult to listen to a rapper talk about the same things, the exact same way for the past decade and a half, and not want to tune him out completely. Unfortunately, Kurupt makes no lyrical breakthroughs (“Never gave f**k about a b**ch or a h*e, now watch us roll, Kurupt in this b**ch wit’ an ounce of dro”) on this album. This is bad considering he’s the premier rapper on this album. J. Wells, the latest in the producer-turned-rapper category shows with his simplistic rhyme patterns that his best talents are behind the boards and not behind the mic. Outside of a good performance by Tha Liks on “Let Em Know”, there isn’t a guest appearance worthy of being mentioned.
Although J. Wells’ strongest attribute happens to be producing, it doesn’t mean that he’s necessarily that good at it. He produced every song on the album so it shouldn’t come as a surprise that almost all of the beats sound alike. (Only the cream of the crop are able to alter their sound just enough that it feels different but still identifiable). In addition to that, J. Wells’ work is indistinguishable in terms of era either. You would think that in 2007, a new producer would be able to put his own touch on the West Coast Sound but his beats sound like carbon copies of those done in 1993.
All in all, Digital Smoke leaves you with, well, nothing. You’re not really looking to play it again but you’re not exactly ready to, as Jadakiss puts it, “break weed up on it” either. This album will be end up being that album that sits in your collection and will always make you question why you haven’t either listened to it or gotten rid of it for all of these years.
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