The Philadelphia born-L.A. raised MC who was a central figure in arguably the greatest dynasty in hip hop history, is also widely considered to be one of the most respected lyricists of his generation. Having already garnered his respect on the streets, the versatile MC was able to earn his stripes amongst hip hop purists by displaying ferocious skills on the mic.
After years of honing and perfecting his craft, his skills didn’t go unnoticed, the late great Biggie Smalls once called Kurupt the greatest freestyler he’d ever seen. At his peak, Kurupt was no joke. The former Death Row artist recently sat down with HH365 to answer questions fans sent in via twitter. The legendary lyricist held nothing back as he reflected on his time on Death Row, his classic “New York New York” verse, the Nas/Jay Z battle and more.
Words by: Esther G.
Will there be a Dogg Pound album anytime soon?
Glenn Carter (Palm Springs CA) via twitter: 5:09 pm ET:
Kurupt: Yea, we’re actually working on it now while we’re on tour. So we’re just knocking out a few things. When we get off the tour we are going to fully sit down and work on the album. Yea so, hopefully by the summer we’ll be ready to drop it. Everybody is coming to the table for it so It’s gonna be another exciting run.
When are we gonna hear a new mixtape or album?
Prince James (Chicago Illinois) via twitter: 5:10 pm ET:
Kurupt: Yea we’re working on a Dogg Pound mixtape right now (me, Daz and Snoop). So we’re actually working on an album and a mixtape while we on tour.
What was the original concept of your New York, New York verse?
Jerrod Lamont (San Jose CA) via twitter 5:11 pm ET:
Kurupt:So basically we made it for the East Coast. That was the whole purpose of it. We wanted to make something that the East Coast would love. That lyrical shit and battle rap style. That’s why we put a chorus on there that we knew the East coast would love and we put Grandmaster Flash , Melly Mel and Furious Five on there. That’s what we originally made that song for like damn Kurupt is bustin on here this is something the East Coast is gonna love.
Do you feel you’ve been underrated your whole career?
Cali Sweetz (Hollywood CA) via twitter: 5:13 pm ET:
Kurupt: No I feel like I got my just due you know, I got the respect that I wanted. One of the things that I wanted in this game was to be known as one of the finest MCs and you know I think the people gave me the respect I was looking for.
What’s 1 thing you miss from the Death Row days?
Al B (Los Angeles) via twitter 5:15 pm ET:
Kurupt:I miss the beginning stages when you didn’t know what to expect. When everything was fresh, just experiencing it for the first time. That’s something you can’t buy with all the money in the world, that feeling.
Who’s in your Top 5 greatest MC’s list?
Alex Ortiz (Washington Heights) via email 5:16 pm ET:
Kurupt: I can’t really put them in five (laughs). Nas, Jigga, Kanye, Drake…I can’t lie, I like Wayne. I like Busta of course, I love Common. Who else is there, there’s so many. Of course the R, Kool G Rap you know they shit is still poppin, Rage, Meek Mills, Rick Ross, Crooked I. these are people who I’m just loving their rhymes or just certain things they said. Things that make me go “Damn! Did you hear what that nigga just said?” I like Kendrick Lamar, Game, 50, of course 50. Lloyd Banks, J Rock, Nipsey, man uh, My lil brother Roscoe is one of my all time favorites. Of course Tupac, DOC, Prodigy from Mobb Deep, he’s vicious. The list goes on and on and on. Of course Andre 3000, Devon the dude his rhymes is ridiculous, TI and J Electronica. Daz and Canibus, Redman, Lady of Rage.
Any chance of a Four Horsemen reunion?
Lloyd (Philly) via-mobile 5:18pm ET
Kurupt: Definitely. We stopped working on a Four Horsemen album because everyone had their own projects and I had to go on tour w/Snoop. We knocked out a couple records, we stopped and then we’re gonna get back on it again. It ain’t something we’re rushing to do, you know. Everybody’s on board though. So we’re just trying to get the time now.
What’s 1 thing you regret in your career?
Alexis (Atlanta GA) via twitter: 5:19pm ET.
Kurupt: I really don’t have no regrets. I think that where I am in the stage of my career and in my life made me who I am today. I think that if there was one mistake that I took away, it would affect the man that I am today you know. Pretty much I don’t regret anything that has happened in my life. Uhhh one thing is I wish I could have spent more time with my mama and my pa.
Were you in Vegas the night Tupac got killed?
Abdul (Toronto) via email 5:22pm ET
Kurupt: No, only person from DPG that was in Vegas was Nate Dogg. I was in Oakland with E-40 and Shock G
After Death Row, why did the West Coast pretty much fall off for 7-9 years or so.
Terrence (Hollywood CA) via twitter 5:23 pm ET:
Kurupt: Ummm there was no Death Row (laughs). Death Row consisted of a machine. It wasn’t just the artists, it wasn’t just Suge, and it wasn’t just hype. You had Interscope behind you. You had Suge that knew how to push our type of music. You had Dr Dre who was at the top of his game production wise. You had Snoop who was young and fresh. We done beat up half the world so you know (laughs). I mean after you done done all of that, you know, it affects the game totally. You become a more monstrous source. All of that wasn’t there when everybody else was trying to come from the West coast and then other people had the formulas you wanted to see and hear. You had Biggie and Jigga coming at the time and Def Jam was taking over. Its about companies not the artists. Death Row, we had our run and then Def Jam had their run. They were ready. They had the whole ball of wax. People be like, “The West coast fell off,” and “Tupac is dead,” and this and that you know but there’s so many different reasons why. You take the machine away and the company goes down or you take the company away the machine goes down. Plus, it’s just great timing. We had great music. Then, you know uh, a lot of things transpired to bring it down, but you know every company has its run. I hear people keep saying, “The West Coast fell off” and then the East had its run then they fell off and the South had its run but, why doesn’t anybody say the East coast fell off? I love that because it shows how much of an impact we had and that we had the most influential impact in hip hop history. We set a precedent for selling millions of records and it’s a great thing but you know music changes and as it changes so do the places that everybody goes to do it.
Do you regret how Tupac and Death Row handled the East/West beef?
Marvin Ells (Los Angeles) via email: 5:24 pm ET:
Kurupt: I’m just happy we ain’t hurt too many people. To yall it was just music but to us it was serious. Everybody was caught up in the music but it was serious. People were gonna get hurt. Pac and Biggie is dead and neither one of them was killed because of the East coast West coast war and that’s what’s crazy. No disrespect to the media, but ya’ll were the ones that created the East/West beef, this war. The media kept promoting the different people that’s arguing instead of really concentrating on what the problem really was. It was Death Row and Bad Boy hat had a problem. Death Row was the West coast and Bad Boy was the East coast, so everybody in the West supported Death Row and everybody on the East supported Bad Boy. Nobody talked about the people in the West who supported Bad Boy and the people in the East who supported Death Row. People are all on what makes news and what makes news is arguments, fights, and garbage. It was the media who named it the East coast/West coast war. We didn’t label it that. Bad Boy didn’t label it that. The artists didn’t label it that. It came from the media. They’re the ones who created the war. It was a fight but it was between Bad Boy and Death Row. You didn’t see use smashing any Def Jam artists. That was way later in the game. You didn’t see us smash the entire East coast.
Its like “New York, New York” was made for the East coast, until we got shot at. We went straight to Time Square to have a good time. After we got shot at we started kicked over buildings in the video to make a statement that we’re upset and you didn’t see us smashing any Philly buildings. I mean the East coast is huge. The East coast is Philadelphia, Boston, Jersey you know but New York I guess is like Los Angeles, the center of the coast. New york is the representation of the East and Los Angeles is the representation of the West, but you didn’t see us going after Philly or Jersey you just seen us in New York handling the problems New Yorkers had with us and we also let New York know we love ya’ll. Me and Snoop, we didn’t have a problem with Bad Boy. Pac was the one who had the problem with Bad Boy but you know how the game goes. To tell you the truth that’s what really started a big problem in Death Row. Snoop showing his distaste for the whole beef problem and how he does have love for Pac and for Biggie. Me, Snoop, and Daz was at the Bad Boy studio when Biggie was working on Total’s album. (1995) He had the first single “Can’t You See” when it was just the instrumental. This was during around the time when this was about to start feuding up. We was out there doing it big and this was when Biggie heard me freestyle and he went on Rap City and said I was one of the greatest freestylers he ever heard. They asked him who was the top performer you ever seen and he said KRS-1 and he said the greatest freestyler he ever heard was Kurupt, so you know we’ve always been down with Bad Boy, Puffy, and Biggie. We didn’t speak on them at all but we had to ride with our team, which basically means that we there for our squad but you know, Biggie and them were friends of ours.
What’s your take on the new crop of West Coast MC’s?
Ashley Jacobs (Inglewood CA) via email 5:25 pm ET:
Kurupt: I’m a firm believer in that there are MCs and there are artists. I love’ em both coming from the West coast. They’re creating their own lane and they’re doing well. You got Tyga, Kendrick and that whole squad over there with Top Dog. Their all doing well and making things happen. I’m loving Game. He keeps himself up in the game. I love everything coming from the West coast. I look at my kids and they groovin to West coast artists and that makes me feel great. That shows because the kids is the key. For them to go from Drake and Wayne and the southern rap that’s killin the game so much and then flip on some music that’s West Coast like Tyga and YG you know what I mean. You look at it like, ok the West coast is still up in there. The West coast is still in the game because the youngsters is keeping their feet up in there.
What’s your take on every rapper claiming to be a ‘Blood’?
J-Smoove (Los Angeles CA) via twitter: 5:26 pm ET:
Kurupt: They gonna have to learn the hard way like we did. I cant really speak on anybody else that gets involved with Gang Banging. That’s something they have to go through to see if that’s what they really wanna do. You can’t speak on them and say people ain’t real if you’re not there with them. To each his own. I can’t really judge them for being a part of something that I’m a part of. There’s something that drew me to it and Snoop to it and everyone else to it. So its not something you should judge or tell them not to do. Their quality of being real is not determined by wanting to be a gang member. My advice, if you’re going to do it do it to the fullest and do it right, otherwise, leave it alone. Its something that you gotta do until you die and you will be held to it until you die. You can’t say “I don’t want to do this anymore.” You gotta ride it out. You will forever be known by your enemies that really gang-bang and even to the people who you think are your friends that gang-bang, they will all hold you to it to the day you die….oh and don’t hurt nobody!
Is there ever gonna be an Up in Smoke Tour Part 2?
Mya (Chicago Illinois) via email : 5:26pm ET
Kurupt: I actually talked to Dr Dre about it. You can definitely plan for there to be another Dr Dre experience on the road, definitely.
Was there a time you were gonna sign with Cash Money? What happened to that?
Jason (Los Angeles CA) via twitter: 5:27pm ET:
Kurupt: You know how the industry is. You try to make things happen and it either happens or it doesn’t. Slim, Baby and Wayne are real good friends of mine to this day, me and Snoop. As far as the business part of it, we tried to put it together but it just didn’t manifest. Cash Money is a great label. If I ever had the opportunity to be a part of that company again I would definitely go there. That is the company that I would prefer to be with in this game. Me, Slim, Baby, and Wayne are close as friends so we definitely work great together so if there is any label I would want to be on as an artist, Cash Money is #1 on my list. If you want to go pop they’ll go pop with you, if you want to go so hip hop the can do that. They’re minds is open for whatever the artist that they’re dealing with, their mind is willing to go there with them. I consider them to have the same vibe that we had with Death Row. Cash Money reminds me of us then more that any other company or organization that there is because they stand behind their artists.
Snoop said you battled like 50 New York MC’s around the time of the New York, New York video shoot, is that true?
Kevin Dillon (Los Angeles) via twitter: 5:32pm ET:
Kurupt: You damn skippy that’s true. Back then I was untouchable. We was at The Tunnel and Snoop and Suge and them left out so we got left behind. We walked out and you know The Tunnel was a hood club. You had to be real hood to be in The Tunnel. It was not for play. Your hoodness would get tested in there. They’d chop yo ass up. You couldn’t be just any old nigga in The Tunnel. They gonna pull our card. So we was in there, you know, it was time to roll. So we just walked out and had to catch a cab and we didn’t want to just be standing out there so we went to the side and half the club followed us. Everybody wanted to rap so we just let it go. I was choppin heads off (laughs). It was fun though. We all had a good time. Even the New York niggas was like “Damn Kurupt, we didn’t know you was that nice” and that was beautiful for me because I’m from Philly and New York acceptance as an MC is top of the line. You’re not a good lyrical rapper if the East coast don’t accept you and your not a good gangsta rapper if the West coast don’t accept you, that’s just the way it is.
There was an unreleased track “NY-87” that was released few months ago, can you speak on that song, and what you remember about making that track, cuz you were throwing shots at Biggie, Mobb Deep and Tribe Called Quest.
Shea T (Boston MA) via twitter 5:33 ET
Dogg Pound feat Tupac ‘NY187′ (Unreleased)
Kurupt: That’s when everything blew up to an East coast/West coast problem and everyone was speaking on it. This is after the New York video where we kicked down buildings and then Pac came home and the beef escalated so we made a West Coast war record but we never released it.
Were you there when Tupac confronted Nas at the MTV Awards in 1996?
Elias Wilkins (Miami FL) via twitter 5:36pm ET:
Kurupt: No, I wasn’t near that.
What’s up with Roscoe? He got anything new out?
Grayson (Philadelphia PA) via twitter 5:41 pm ET:
Kurupt: Roscoe’s over there at Aftermath now so he’s over there with Dr Dre. Working on Detox with Dre and working on his album.
Who do you think won the Nas vs Jay Z battle?
Christopher (Queens NYC) via twitter: 5:44pm ET
Kurupt: I don’t know. I don’t think anybody won. I heard both records and both were spittin. I can’t say one did better than the other. They need to do a part two (laughs). They’re even because both of them was smackin. “I embrace y’all with napalm. Blows up, no guts, left chest, face gone.” Oh my GOD (laughs)! That was vicious man. Nas threw a boomerang on that nigga right there.
Were you on good terms with Tupac when he died? Because I know he had some issues with Snoop.
Pistol Pete (Long Island) via twitter 5:45pm ET
Kurupt: Me and Pac were straight.
What did you think of Capone & Mobb Deep’s song “L.A. L.A.”?
Jabarri Thomas (Atlanta) via twitter 5:46pm ET
Kurupt:I didn’t think about it at all but it sure pissed Pac off. That’s why Pac was jumping on Prodigy on “Hit’em Up,” but Prodigy didn’t say anything about Pac.
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