He might have been born in Philly, but Ricardo “Kurupt” Brown has been one of the most influential voices on the California rap scene since debuting in 1993 on Dr. Dre’s classic The Chronic. After all the homies got some on Snoop Dogg’s debut Doggystyle, Kurupt and his Dogg Pound partner Daz stood on their own four with 1995′s Dogg Food, their critically heralded Death Row jump-off. As Suge’s empire collapsed, Kurupt launched his own label, Antra Records, in 1998 to release his first solo album Kuruption, which paid homage to both his East and West Coast roots. He followed with 1999’s Streetz Iz A Mutha (where he barked at DMX on the controversial “Calling Out Names”) and 2001’s Space Boogie: Smoke Odyssey.
The next year, Kurupt shook up the DPG ranks when he took an executive position at his former label Death Row. As a result, a split occurred with his partners Daz and Snoop Dogg, who felt betrayed by Kurupt’s return to Suge’s camp. Diss songs were launched back and forth from both sides, and just when things seemed to be at it’s darkest, Kurupt left Death Row again in 2005 and reunited with his Dogg Pound brethren. After releasing their comeback album Cali Iz Active in 2006 and Dog Chit in 2007, an announcement appeared on their website this past summer claiming that the group had signed a new deal with Cash Money Records. Then, in December, another post on the website claimed that Baby and Slim couldn’t come up with the right amount of cash to do the deal. With rumors flying around about the future of the Pound, Kurupt Young Gotti caught up with XXLMAG.com to discuss the CMR deal, his two new solo records and why he’s doing a reality show with the lead singer from Skid Row. Really doe!
What happened with the Cash Money deal? Is it really dead?
Oh, it’s still in float. We’re still talking to Baby and Slim about the project. It’s definitely still there. So many options came to the table and we’ve actually got a real big meeting coming up where we are going to sit down with Baby and Slim.
So why was there an announcement that Cash Money couldn’t come up with the money to do the deal?
Daz moves fast [laughs]. I think he was just letting it known that we are still available and that we are not signed to anybody yet.
So the album is no longer called West Coast Aftershock? 100 Wayz is the new name?
It’s 100 Wayz. It represents so many ways to get paid. Don’t let life frustrate you. Find 100 ways to get it accomplished. There are so many ways to reach your goals, whatever they are. You will see a more mature Dogg Pound album on this one. We concentrate more on the musical aspects. We reached out to a lot of our people like Krayzie Bone. Pimp C was just about to knock out his verse for our album. He actually did one for Snoop’s album that’s so stupid. DJ Quik gave us a slapper. Tyrese’s producers gave us a slapper too. We got one with me, Snoop, Daz, Tyrese, Tank and Ginuwine that’s real big.
Do you guys have a time frame goal to get this out?
No. Right now we’re just looking for a home, as far as a company is concerned, to put out this music. Our objective is to give them the type of record that they need to market and sell. Right now we’re paying for everything. We’re paying for the mixing and everything. This is the first time that I have really got Daz active like this. Daz has also got me active as far as making this album right. Soopafly has also given us so much heat it’s stupid. This is the closest to Dogg Food that we have done.
Were you satisfied with the previous releases that the group has dropped since you all got back together?
Definitely satisfied. Everybody loves to critique and compare those albums to Dogg Food, but the albums that we put out before, we didn’t make to hit like Dogg Food. Those are more like underground records, like street albums and mixtapes. We threw those out there just to give them some Dogg Pound gangsta shit. This is our real album. I consider this the second real release of the Dogg Pound, the first being Dogg Food. Everything in between has been like mixtapes that we threw out there just to give the people something to smoke on.
Even the Cali Iz Active album?
Cali Iz Active had no Daz production on it. No Soopafly production. We more or less let everybody else produce on it. Cali Iz Active was a Dogg Pound album, but 100 Wayz is what I call a true one because we have Daz and Soopafly overseeing all of the production.
Daz unfortunately isn’t here right now, but earlier he was talking about pushing you guys more towards digital releases, as opposed to going through major labels.
Not with 100 Wayz. The digital plan is for other records. We have so many records that we have made over time that we are going to use to put together as albums. Those will go straight to iTunes and other digital outlets. Our digital albums will be more underground than the records that we will release through the majors.
You’ve been in the game since 1994. There’s this impression that once you hit your 30s, you can’t make hip-hop music anymore. Do you feel like it’s a young man’s game?
It is a young man’s game. Hip-hop is about the youth. It’s about being the voice of the streets and the ghettos. However, hip-hop has expanded to now where it’s the voice of the middle class, lower class and upper class. That’s the thing with me and Daz on this new album. We still keep it gangsta, but we’re talking to the people as older Gs. It’s about touching all of those areas, the streets, the youth, and the other classes. If you’ve got nothing to say and you’re just rapping, then you’re irrelevant. On 100 Wayz, we’re teaching the youth as well as them still having a ball with us.
On MTV, you were recently a part of the Celebrity Rap Superstar show. What was it like working on the show with Sebastian Bach?
That was bomb right there. He’s turned out to be a friend for the long run. Our friendship started from the MTV situation and it’s going to end with us seeing our kids get old. Out of that situation, me and Sebastian have our own show that we’re working on with MTV.
Is the show going to be about you guys recording in the studio together or what?
It’s bigger than that. It’s about our families. The rock & roll family and the hip-hop family. [It’s] also about me and Sebastian going to different places—like when I go on tour with Snoop, I will be bringing him with me. In turn, I’ll be going on rock & roll tours with Sebastian. We’re also going to do an album together.
You two are doing an official album together?
We’ve got to do it! Rock-hop!
Was he hard to coach on the show?
Not at all! Sebastian is a natural for music. At first, I was out to convert him, but at the end of the day I realized that he didn’t have to be converted because he was already there. He got on the mic and was spittin’. I was actually shocked. All I had to do was point him in the right direction and he flew with it.
Do you feel that he got hosed with the voting?
I told Sebastian, “You can’t go up against the Double-D’s.” It’s the truth. Sex sells and sex has always been a big part of hip-hop. I’ve always felt that the people with the most skills get the short of the stick in the rap game. Concepts always kills skills when it comes to selling records. But also the people who he lost to, like Shar Jackson, she’s sick! Shar and my Playboy homegirl Kendra are so lovable. It’s hard to beat lovable people like that. Kendra showed the most growth out of everybody to be honest. That contest wasn’t about skills, but about growth. The people saw that growth in Shar, Kendra and Sebastian.
Is the reality show that you’re doing with Sebastian Bach written in stone already?
Yes, we’ve already signed. We’re going to start shooting at the beginning of the year. The first thing we’re going to do is take a little trip with our families and go enjoy ourselves. With me and Sebastian, it’s so entertaining. It’s comedy because we’re so alike, but so different at the same time.
Do you have any word on a solo Kurupt album?
I do. The big thing about the album is, who is putting it out? I’m not going to say who it is at this time, but just know that it’s fuckin’ spectacular. It’s called The History Of Violence and the big surprise is going to be who’s putting it out. The person who’s putting it out is a producer, also with another producer, who will be doing the bulk of the album. This producer here, the world loves. It’s not Dr. Dre and it’s not Snoop. That’s the big twist.
Speaking of the Dr., you’ve been on every one of Dre’s solo albums. Are you on Detox?
You can best believe it. Detox ain’t going to fly without Kurupt on there. Me and Dr. Dre are going to fly together. I was with The D.O.C. the other day and he was playing me a few tracks from this incredible fire-starting album. It’s at such a different level. Snoopy’s album Ego Trippin’ is on another level. He dropped “Sensual Seduction” and people were like, “What the fuck is he thinking?” And then they started dancing to it. Shaking their asses more than the bitches [laughs].
Snoop took a risk—that’s rare in this day and age.
That’s the key word that you said right there. It’s about taking those risks. That’s what makes music history. People stay in their boxes and that wears out over time. Snoop does both. He stays in the box and steps out of it and ends up making the biggest records of his life. People talk shit about LL, saying that his music is for the bitches, yet they play his stuff when they’re with their bitches. Will Smith is one of the originators of stepping out of the box. Hip-hop never gives this guy props with any awards. He’s opened up certain channels in this game.
You and Daz had a very publicized break up a few years back before reuniting. With all of those diss songs that were made, was it hard to get over some of the words that were said?
I think it’s always hard when you go through something like that. Me, Daz and Snoopy have all been through hell and high water. Right now, we’re at a point where we’re enjoying our careers and lives. We respect each other and love each other even more. It wasn’t too hard but it was hard for us to get back in to a rhythm after all that happened. We’re past homies. We’re family.
I understand that you also have one last announcement for us?
I do. Me and DJ Quik have an album coming out in ’08 and it’s going to be off the chain. Quik is doing this album with Terrace and he’s going to fly this fuckin’ record out!
This is different from the solo album with the mystery producer that you spoke of?
Yes. You will hear our first collaboration with the record that DJ Quik made for Tha Dogg Pound on 100 Wayz. That song is Tha Dogg Pound featuring DJ Quik and Devin The Dude and it’s off the hook. Quik also did a record for Snoop’s album that’s crazy. It’s a new era in the West. You’ve got the Snoop album, The Dogg Pound album, the Kurupt solo album, the Kurupt and DJ Quik album and then you’ve got Ice Cube’s album that’s going to be ferocious on these bitches! Then we’ve got the new generation and the fire they are bringing. Glasses Malone is on fire right now! I sat down and spoke to Dr. Dre about Bishop Lamont. What Dr. Dre is doing with this guy right now is on a whole different level. Then the icing on the cake is Detox. The West Coast has learned our lessons from the past, but most importantly, we’re here to put out this good music.