Release Date: Apr 20, 2010
Record label: Penagon
Nearly two decades after contributing to Dr. Dre's monumental Chronic album, the Dogg Pound founder whose name has graced a number of greatest-MCs-of-all-time lists (Kool Moe Dee, for instance, ranked him above Slick Rick in his book There's a God on the Mic) might be considered washed up by many fans who once lauded him. Combining with L.A. beatsmith Terrace Martin, Kurupt makes a commendable effort to prove his detractors wrong on the impressive Streetlights, defiantly proclaiming "I don't sell a lot of records 'cause people ain't like me" on the intro as if to say that he's an artist for whom street cred matters most.
Attempting to top a critical smash can be daunting, especially for cult rappers with limited commercial viability, who have to scrap for their careers in an increasingly hostile, whirlwind-moving landscape. In 2009, West Coast hip-hop fixture Kurupt teamed with DJ Quik for BlaQKOut, a record of charisma-dripping rhymes and blistering grooves that left most of last year’s hip-hop output in the California dust. But in an age when even Karl Rove uses Twitter, things move hastily and keeping up is vital.
California rapper Kurupt plays well with others. Never begrudging his role as a right-hand man, he's always seemed pleased just to be in the fold. One of the more recognizable characters in the past 20 years of West Coast hip-hop, Kurupt earned his stripes as a snarling, smoked-out, dangerously funny guy who bears a cross that the best character actors do: Often responsible for his projects' juiciest moments (nearly all of his tracks on Dre's 2001), he's soon resigned to the background.
Kurupt's career has seen hiccups in recent years, most notably during his transition from Death Row to Dogg Pound Records. Streetlights (out on Fontana) is a shot at reinvention, but the result is an unmemorable wash of West Coast rap influences. [rssbreak] The lead-off track/single, I'm Burnt, finds Kurupt using underwhelming wordplay over a beat that sounds like an E-40 B-side.