Kurupt tha Kingpin

During the period of his début group album release, Kurupt fell into stride with a heated rapper who joined the Row to escape the system’s hold on him. Tupac and Kurupt became good working allies within the record label. Kurupt had undertaken a strong habit in binge drinking and heavy cannabis smoking, something Tupac was already akin to. The pair was always under the influence and very fiery by nature like drunken spoilt brats. With Tupac on-board, Death Row was brought into the rap-war he waged against New York’s Bad Boy Entertainment, with Suge already all-but declaring war against its CEO, Sean Combs. It was this inspiration that led to the west coast throw-down, "New York, New York" by the DPG guest-starring Snoop Dogg. When the group travelled to New York City to film the music video for the track, Bad Boy and Death Row escalated their beef to a dangerous level. Bad Boy’s Notorious BIG assumed his arch-rival Tupac was on tour with the DPG and while on the set for the video in Times Square, Kurupt and Daz’s trailer was shot up by an unknown drive-by assailant. Luckily thanks in part to bodyguard Frank Alexander, nobody inside was injured. Capone N Noreaga responded to the beef-track with "LA, LA" aiming directly at the DPG. During the following year, Death Row Records took an unbelievable turn their star rappers fled the label after Tupac Shakur was gunned down in Las Vegas, September ’96. Snoop Dogg, Daz, Nate Dogg and Kurupt had all made their break from the Row with Dre having previously jump ship to start his own venture. Kurupt had left to start up his own recording label however he remained in a close working relationship with Death Row CEO Suge Knight for several years to come.

In 1997 Kurupt left for a position with Antra Records as an A&R but still keeping in close touch with Suge Knight he appeared on many albums rounded off by Death Row. On September 1st, 98 he released a platinum-selling double album called Kuruption produced by DPG homie, Daz and Battlecat. The album peaked at number eight on the Billboard 200 chart by October and released the single ‘We Can Freak It’ all on Antra/A&M Records. Shortly after he dropped another platinum LP The Streetz is a Mutha in ’99 going platinum for Artimus Records again produced by Daz showing the pair maintained a healthy working relationship through their careers. The album closed with a bonus track called "Callin’ Out Names" directed at New York rapper DMX for his relationship with Kurupt’s girlfriend at the time, female rapper, Foxy Brown. Two years later Kurupt and Daz collaborated on a follow-up Dogg Pound release album, this time using their new monikers, ‘Dillinger & Young Gotti’ produced by Daz and distributed by DPG Recordz off the Gangsta Advisory parent label by May 1st, 2001. This was sharply followed with ‘2002’ comprised of their old unreleased cut-work pieced together under Death Row Records, owned by Suge Knight. ‘2001’ dropped July 31st. Previous to this release Kurupt’s third solo LP hit the streets running. ‘Space Boogie: Smoke Oddessey’ was to be Kurupt’s final solo album with his current label. Mainly produced by Fredwreck, DJ Quik and Daz the album hit the Billboard 200 chart position at number ten as well as fifth spot on the R&B/Hip-Hop chart. The album brought out the single ‘It’s Over’ and was released July 10th, 2001. Soon after, Kurupt re-joined Death Row Records.

Upon his release from prison, Kurupt’s former overbearing CEO Suge Knight brought him back inside the blood-split red walls of Wilshire Boulevard’s Death Row studios (now renamed to Tha Row Records) as his Vice President and to be the sole producer for the label’s album projects as well as assist Suge on the A&R side. This move was a shock to his industry peers and colleagues alike, Snoop and Daz being sworn enemies of Suge Knight since their disastrous break-up. This brought static hostility between old friends of DPG. Kurupt faded into the background working on the label’s projects, despite being promised his own solo album from Death Row, it was continually pushed back. Suge favouring the production of Crooked I and Eastwood’s albums. During this period in his professional career with Tha Row, Kurupt formed several groups with existing rappers. Firsty he recruited Mobb Deep, Jayo Felony, 40 Glocc and The Alchemist to join him as The Riflemen. Nothing ever came of this project however he continued with a second group he called The HRSMN, consisting of Kurupt, Canibus, Killah Priest and Ras Kass. Apart from guest appearing on each other’s independent albums, the group collaborated on two mix tapes. Kurupt’s fourth solo record, ‘Against tha Grain’ had dropped the streets well after Kurupt had dropped Tha Row and reunited with his real homies from the DPGC. The album was recorded during 2003 and finally released August 23rd, 2005. At this stage Tha Row Records had their albums solely distributed by Koch Records who did not bother promoting the album. As a result of this the album had very poor sales with no singles. It hit the charts at top 60th and 20th positions in Billboard’s 200 and Top R&B/Hip-Hop respectively by September that year. The album credited Suge Knight as being the sole producer of the album, but it is well known Suge Knight has never stepped behind the production desk in his entire career as label boss.

April 13, 2005, was a momentous occasion for Kurupt and Tha DPG Clicc as they collectively squashed their three-year beef through the peace meeting labelled Protect the West. Snoop Dogg organised the gathering at which he also reportedly made peace with Kurupt's label CEO Suge Knight. During this period Kurupt introduced his protégée Immense, a talented rapper who met Kurupt in 2001 and since had taken him to Def Jam president, Roc-a-Fella Records owner and rapper Jay-Z who promptly signed him as the first artist to headline his ‘Roc-a-Fella West’ venture. Later that same year Kurupt formed a personal relationship with rapper Natina Reed, from the group Blaque. The couple was planning to get married in August 2001 but postponed this for career reasons. The commitment was never fulfilled. Previously Kurupt had involved himself in a relationship with New York recording star Foxy Brown and TLC rapper Lisa ‘Left-Eye’ Lopez before her untimely departure.

Kurupt’s latest recording venture was released June 20th, 2006 entitled ‘Same Day, Different Shit’ again produced by his long-time friend Daz on DPG Recordz and not unlike his last album sales were mediocre reaching 58th position on the Top R&B/Hip-Hop chart in 2006.

Discography: (Solo)

  • 1998 Kuruption (Billboard 200 chart position: #8) RIAA Certification: Gold (83,000 copies) US Sales: 319,519
  • 1999 The Streetz is a Mutha (Billboard 200 chart position: #31) US Sales: 507,893
  • 2001 Space Boogie: Smoke Oddessey (Billboard 200 chart position: #10) (83,000 copies) US Sales: 348,272
  • 2005 Against tha Grain (Billboard 200 chart position: #60)
  • 2006 Same Day, Different Shit (Billboard 200 chart position: N/A)
  • 2007 Against Tha Grain Tha E.P. (Billboard 200 chart position: N/A)
  • 2009 Blaqkout (w. DJ Quik)

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