Kurupt has been a part of hip-hop history since he first stormed onto the scene with his appearance on the songs “Lyrical Gangbang”, “Stranded on Death Row”, and “Bitches Ain’t Shit” from Dr. Dre’s multi-platinum solo debut The Chronic on Death Row Records in 1992. Since those incredible verse-stealing guest appearances, Kurupt has gone on to have a 25-plus year career in the music industry, making history along the way. He was an integral part to several of hip-hop’s most classic albums including Snoop Dogg’s Doggystyle, Tha Dogg Pound’s Dogg Food with Daz Dillinger, and 2Pac’s All Eyez On Me, in addition to the aforementioned The Chronic with Dr. Dre, during his run on Death Row Records through the 1990’s.
Throughout the 2000’s Kurupt could be found smashing microphones on his many solo projects (Kuruption!, Tha Streetz Iz A Mutha, Space Boogie, and Streetlights), as well various guest spots throughout the emcee’s prolific career. Kurupt has been featured on records with some of the industry’s heaviest of hitters in Scarface, Xzibit, MC Ren, Heavy D, Ant Banks, Nate Dogg, Ras Kass, Warren G, Too Short, and Ice Cube to name a few.
Kurupt took some time out to sit down with DubCNN to discuss his 2017 single, the Fredwreck-produced “Inferno” and its accompanying video, working with DJ Pooh on “New York, New York”, as well as the producer/filmmaker’s Grow House movie soundtrack, the chemistry between himself and Dr. Dre during their collaborative efforts over the years, and drops some incredible behind-the-scenes stories on a few of his records from his vast catalog.
Kurupt: A DubCNN Exclusive Interview
Questions Asked By: Chad Kiser
Kurupt & Fredwreck- Inferno (Video)
DubCNN: You and Fredwreck hadn’t released a record together for about 15 years. Tell me about re-connecting and working with Fredwreck on the “Inferno” track you recently put out on the “Grow House” soundtrack.
Me and Fred have been working on my solo album for about a year and half now, maybe two years, trying to find that right sound, and keep it really authentic gangsta but still with a little twist. So, we’ve been experimenting with a lot of new sounds and different things. On “Inferno” we took it back to N.W.A feel, you know that D.O.C. “Portrait of A Masterpiece” type of vibe with the producer talking to me to change it up a little bit, and I’m talking right back to him to get right back on the beat. We’re just getting a little creative with it. It’s a record for my album, but Fred let DJ Pooh hear it, and he loved it, and he wanted it for the Grow House soundtrack. I had no qualms with that. That was one of our bombast ones right there, the drums took me to a whole other planet.
DubCNN: Tell me about putting the concepts together and what went into making the “Inferno” video.
Fred wanted to keep it real simple for “Inferno”, he wanted to do the video like “Mama Said Knock You Out”, you know there wasn’t too much LL was doing in it, it was all performance. And that’s how Fred wanted “Inferno” to be, just majorly performance. So, we put the mic up, lit the mic up from the inside, and he just let me fly. Basically, all about Kurupt, and not too many other things and just let people concentrate on the lyrics. That was Fred’s concept for the video. He was like, “I want people to hear what you’re saying because you’re saying so much. And it came out good!
DubCNN: DJ Pooh, who wrote and directed Grow House, produced one your biggest records with “New York, New York” for the Dogg Pound’s 1995 Dogg Food album. What do you recall about making that particular song with DJ Pooh back in 1995?
When we did “New York, New York”, as soon as it was done I said, “You know what? I’m a star now.” [laughs] “I’m a star! Because this shit’s banging!” Hip-Hop is my main love, that’s what I was born on and grew up to. There hadn’t been a lot of times I was able to deliver a record to show my skills. The closest I got to show my real, true skills was “Doggy Dogg World”, but “New York, New York” was the top of the line. I always wanted to work with DJ Pooh, personally, because he was always working with Snoopy, or I’d go to his studio and he was working on Deadly Threat’s album and working on other things. So, this was monumental and historic for me to be able to work with DJ Pooh, west coast legend and icon.
So, believe it or not, he did a St. Ides commercial with Biggie to that beat. He had gave the beat to me because when I heard it I said, “This is mine!” I had it for a while because I wrote everything at home, and it was special to me because this is where I was going to make history for Kurupt and finally get to show the world my true skills on the mic and show them how much of an MC I am. So, the St. Ides commercial comes out and it reminded me that that was my beat, and I said I‘d better go to the studio and knock the song out! Biggie was busting on it and I was like, ‘Biggie’s about to get my beat!’ I went in the studio the next day! It was really Daz on the hook first, freestyling and having fun. I had just laid my verse and the beat was just playing as I was going through my second verse, then Dogg came in and he was singing the Melle Mel and Grandmaster Flash “New York, New York big city of dreams, and everything in New York…” and DJ Pooh said, “Stop! That’s it! Go in there and lay that as the hook.” Instantaneous classic. It changed my career. It changed my life. And I go the opportunity to show the world what I’m best at on this mic.
DubCNN: Catching back up with DJ Pooh so many years later to be a part of Grow House, are there any plans for the two of you to connect musically in the studio on something?
Oh, definitely. Like I said, me and Fred been working on my solo album, Konundrum for about a good year and half to two years, I just been going on tour a lot with Snoop and then he’s been over there with Dr. Dre in Detroit working with Eminem. So, when we get our little off time that’s when we can get in the studio, which is why it’s taking so long. Plus, Fred is a perfectionist, he wants this to be a whole different feel than any of the records we’ve ever made. But DJ Pooh is definitely one of the people me and Fred got on our producers list to work with for the album.
DubCNN: I interviewed Fredwreck last year, and he mentioned that you two were planning a new album called Scuba Dust. What can you tell me about this upcoming project? Who’s featured? Is it completely produced by Fredwreck or will there be other producers on there?
[laughs] We have the two names because Fred came up with that one and I came up with the other one, Konundrum, but that’s the two names we’re thinking on. Either one of them or either way it goes we’re going to take people to a whole other galaxy, again.
DubCNN: I know it’s early, but what can you tell me about the upcoming Scuba Dust or Konundrum project?
It’s mainly going to be Fred producing, but there may be one or two other producers who may get involved, I mean I really can’t do anything with Daz and Soopafly, that’s a given, but you never know. Maybe AyooMeco, who produces my little homie Compton AV, to get that fresh sound.
DubCNN: I wanted to touch base on a few of your records to get a bit of history on them. The first record I’d like to talk about is “Ask Yourself A Question” with Dr. Dre. Tell me about putting that record together with Dre and how you guys re-connected after the Death Row situation.
When I left Death Row, I started my own company, Antra in Philadelphia with my partner Joe Malone. The first person I called was Dr. Dre. Dre called me in to work on some things he was working on, and then we did “Ask Yourself A Question”. We flew Dr. Dre out to do the video in Philly and Dr. Dre just gave me all the support and love, because you know, it ain’t easy getting Dr. Dre’s attention [laughs]. So, for him to show me that love and bless me with that record, you know, it’s classic, to me. And ever since then me and Dr. Dre been working together like me working on the second Chronic and at the same time he gave me something for my album, we had the same record on each other’s albums, and we dropped them on the same day.
DubCNN: You’re talking about the “Ho’s A Housewife” record? What’s the history on that one?
I liked “Ho’s A Housewife” so much, and Dr. Dre liked that chorus so much that I just started rapping that chorus while the beat was playing. Dr. Dre said, “I got to have that, out that hook on there”. I said, “No, that’s for my solo album”, I didn’t give a fuck because I loved that record [laughs]. I love how it sounds to the beat. I laid it, and then he wanted me to put that verse on there, and I did the same hook and the same verse. Dre was loving it. From there, I was like, “Dre, I want to use this for my album, too”. You know, Dr. Dre loves me so much, and it ain’t easy to get Dr. Dre to do stuff to sacrifice like that, to give you record that’s going to be on his album. He let me put it on his album, and he used it on his album. He showed me a lot, a lot of love.
DubCNN: The next record is “We Can Freak It” produced by Battlecat. Talk to me about working with Battlecat on this record and how it all came together.
Battlecat was one of the first producers to ever produce a record for Kurupt. I wanted that authentic sound that I had before I even went to Death Row, and I also wanted to take people to where I really started. So, Battlecat was actually the first producer that I went to when I started working on Kuruption. It was classic because as a kid Battlecat was one of the first ones I worked with, so we had a history and a rhythm together, taking it back to where Kurupt came from.
DubCNN: You’re work and history with Snoop Dogg is well chronicled, but I’m interested in the record “For All My Niggaz & Bitches” from Doggystyle. Aside from “Doggy Dogg World”, that was one of my favorite joints from that album.
When you hear it, you know that Dogg is at the end more or less chanting, chilling, because that record was originally meant for Dogg Food, when me and Daz was working on our album. We hadn’t played it for nobody, you know we was just in the studio working on our album, and getting it ready to be presented to Suge, Dr. Dre, and Snoop. So, we already had that record. As soon as Dogg heard it, he lost it! He was like, “This that shit! Cuzz, this is going on my album, immediately!” Daz looked at him like, ‘You goddamn right!’ We got our own record on Snoop’s album? I mean, Dogg had the most anticipated album coming out back then.
We were really just trying to get our feet wet in the game as a group. We were solo artists first on Death Row, so “For My Niggaz & Bitches” solidified us as Tha Dogg Pound. Before that record we had “Niggaz Don’t Give A Fuck” on the Poetic Justice soundtrack, and that was the first release we had announcing us as Tha Dogg Pound. Then we had “For All My Niggaz & Bitches” on Doggystyle which really put the stamp on the Dogg Pound / DPG movement of me and Daz. So, you know, it was for our album at first, and then when Dogg heard it and he was just like, “This is coming out with me cuzz”, we said ok [laughs]. He got in on the end and added a dope flavor which just took it to a different place. I said, “We about to be stars!”
DubCNN: The last record I’d like you to detail is “Xxplosive” from the 2001 album by Dr. Dre. Obviously, you and Dr. Dre have a long history of working together with The Chronic, Poetic Justice, Doggystyle, Dogg Food, Kuruption, 2001, and so on. Tell me about coming in for that song and how you worked with Dr. Dre in building that record.
Well, Dr. Dre flew me out to Reno to work on that album, and the first record I think we worked on was “Xxplosive”. During that trip, we also worked on “Let’s Get High” and “Ho’s A Housewife”, and all the records I’m on with Dr. Dre we did it all right there. With “Xxplosive” he just said, “man, Kurupt, I need that raw Kurupt. I need that I don’t give a fuck Kurupt”. I said, “Alright, you sure?” I got on that muthafucka and called bitches so many bitches [laughs]. When I finished it, he was loving it, and I didn’t think he was going to like it. But that’s what he wanted and told that was Kurupt he was talking about. It blew up! When I’m in that booth, as long as I see Dr. Dre smiling I know it’s about to be classic.
DubCNN: A lot of people don’t realize that you’ve done productions yourself. The most interesting to me is “Never Leave Me Alone” with Nate Dogg. Tell me about putting that record together and how you and Nate collaborated on that.
Well, you know, Daz and Warren G taught me how to produce, so I was just working with my team. It’s actually a flip of the Roberta Flack and Donny Hathaway’s “Where Is the Love?” And I just came up with it, and let Nate hear it. Nate went nuts. He said, “This is mine! And Kurupt is gonna rap on it!” I said, “No Nate, I’m a producer now, you don’t rap on songs you produce!” We got Snoop on there, and it wasn’t really a big record to Nate, but it was pretty big for me and my first production to be released with Snoop and Nate. How can you beat that? Nate went crazy as soon as he heard it. I made that bassline, got the drums, and then Soopafly came and laced up some keys. It was over.
DubCNN: If you could make one album, 10 songs, an all-time Kurupt project and it’s your legacy album. Who would you work with on it?
Dr. Dre, hands down. Dr. Dre because he’s not going to allow me to slack. Every record is going to be stupid! He’s going to bring the best out of me, he’s not going to allow me to bring anything less. And that’s mostly what I love about him and working with Dr. Dre. If I’m not at my full potential he has no issue saying, ‘that’s not it, Kurupt. Try again….that’s not it, Kurupt. Try Again’. Dr. Dre will work on one verse for a week until he gets it. He’ll push you and push you until you eventually get it, and then he’ll say, “Let’s do it one more time”. But when he gets it, and finishes it, and you hear it, you’re so glad he stayed on you. That’s the main thing about Dr. Dre in general. So, the ultimate Kurupt record would be produced by Dr. Dre. But still, the produced by Dr. Dre is going to have some of that Daz and Soopafly. But Dr. Dre would be the overseer of the whole thing because there is none greater than Dr. Dre.
DubCNN: In closing, in addition to the “Inferno” record and video, produced and directed by Fredwreck respectively, and appearing on DJ Pooh’s Grow House movie soundtrack, and the upcoming new Kurupt solo project, what else are working on that we can look forward to?
I’m going to be getting back into the movie game because that’s my 2nd thing. I took a little break from the film to really concentrate on getting back on this mic full scale. I done got with Fred, Daz, and Snoop just getting back on this music game. Me, Snoop, and Daz are halfway done with this Dogg Pound album, I got a business called The Real Kurupt’s Moonrocks and that business is booming. I’m also working on my daughter’s album as well, so I got a couple things in the works. Also, I want everybody to get ready for Sticky Fingaz & Kurupt, we got a project that we’re working on film-wise. Myself, Layzie Bone and The Lady of Rage will be doing an upcoming tour. And Layzie Bone and me are working on the Thug Pound album. We about to hit them heavy!