Just because his best days might be behind him, that doesn’t mean Kurupt is ready to hang up the microphone just yet. Less than a year after teaming up with DJ Quik to release the stellar collaboration album, BlaQKout, the Cali rapper (by way of Philly) is back with his sixth solo effort, Streetlights, a project that showcases his strengths as a lyricist and gives a glimpse of his past success.
Though it’s billed as a solo album, Streetlights finds Kurupt partnered with West Coast producer Terrace Martin on all but two of the album’s 15 tracks, which provides a cohesive sound and keeps Young Gotti in his comfort zone. The pair start the party on the intoxicating “I’m Burnt,” where Kurupt and Compton rapper Problem swap stories about getting faded over Martin’s bouncy beat. They get serious on the hard-edged “Questions” as a frustrated Kurupt runs through a series of questions about West Coast artists that people continue to ask him. And their chemistry peaks on the aggressive “In Gotti We Trust,” where Kurupt proves he’s hungrier as ever: “I’m smashin’ on niggas/Castrate, eliminate, obliviate, interrogate, assassinate, .38 blastin’ on niggas!”
Despite these bright spots, Kurupt’s energy doesn’t carry over to every song on Streetlights. Specifically, the Lil Jon-produced “Riot In The Club” never manages to get as crunk as the title suggests. The slow-paced “Face Down” also causes Kurupt’s murderous lyrics to sound forced over Martin’s synthy production. But thanks to a soulful Pete Rock production, he manages to regain his composure on “Yessir,” where he confidently raps about the longevity he’s enjoyed during his career.
Now with Cali’s next generation looking to step up, it may seem like the right time for the West Coast’s old guard to step aside, or at least play along. But on Streetlights, it’s clear Kurupt is going to keep playing until the street lights go out. —Chris Yuscavage