Kurupt is an anomaly, the first of his kind, a pioneer. Before he came along, West Coast artists, while talented, weren’t exactly known for their complex rhyme patters. Then, the Philly native made the move to Cali at the tender age of 16, and all of that changed. The West Coast lyricist was officially born. While artists like Schoolboy Q, Crooked I, Kendrick Lamar, and Game, West Coast MC’s with East Coast sensibilities, are in abundance now, Kurupt stood alone for a long while. Need proof? “I’m driving motherfuckers hysterical, with a/ Touch of this twister, stylistic mixture/ What I create pulsates, there is no escape/ Annihilate your mental mind state/ Dre labels my vocabulary abusive/ I packs more knowledge than Confucius, I’m deadly.” That’s a few bars off the Dogg Food track “New York, New York”, a song dissing the city that never sleeps. Still, you’d be hard pressed to find a New Yorker who didn’t find Kurupt’s verses mind bogglingly insane. Kurupt is one of the best to ever do it and MMD was able to sit down with the 23 year rap veteran to discuss the Dogg Food album, his influence on an entire coast, and his relationship with Suge Knight.
Men’s Mag Daily: I’ve been a fan for a while and I’ve always wondered about something. You were born and raised in Philly and that showed in your flow and your lyricism. When you moved to Cali, which at the time had a very distinct sound, how did people out there react when they heard you rhyme?
Kurupt: When I moved to Cali, like you said, it was real different from the East Coast sound. People were lovin’ it. They were all like, “damn this dude is crazy”. They had seen that type of style in the videos and all that but with me they were seeing it up close so they were pretty astounded, pretty astounded by me. They was like “God damn, did you hear what this nigga just said?” (Laughs)
Men’s Mag Daily: Kurupt you’ve been in this game for 20 years.
Kurupt: 23 years, that’s crazy ain’t it?
Men’s Mag Daily: I feel like you’ve seen more and been through more than a lot of artists. What was it like? Is there anything you would change?
Kurupt: It’s all a learning experience man. All the battles and wars I been through, and all the battle scars I got it’s been a learning experience, you know what I’m sayin’? Everything I been through made me the man I am today so if it was different I would be different so I would say that I really learned something from every situation.
Men’s Mag Daily: You were the Vice President of Death Row when Crooked I was signed who’s a great artist, great lyricist. Do you think you had any influence on him and did you see his talent from the beginning?
Kurupt: I think Crooked I was influenced by Gotti long before that. I think Crooked I was influenced by Kurupt but the whole West Coast was influenced by Kurupt. At one point you could see the style starting to change and the dude who was really doin’ it was D.O.C but he was from Texas, he was from Dallas. It was different with me because you had an East Coast style with West Coast topics so it was definitely something different. I was a hybrid. I always looked at myself as a hybrid, a mixture of things and that’s what made Kurupt stand out. Anything that dropped after 1992 was really influenced by Kurupt from the different patterns and wordplay. I would say Crooked I was influenced by me whether I was Vice President of Death Row or not.
Men’s Mag Daily: So with all that said and be honest with me, are you one of the greatest lyricists of all time?
Kurupt: I am definitely one of the greatest lyricists of all time. I’m not the greatest but I am definitely one of the greatest. You know you set goals for yourself and there was a point where I felt I was one of the greatest and where do you go from there? Biggie himself got on Rap City and when they asked him what was the greatest freestyle he ever heard, he said Kurupt’s. That was an accomplishment right there and what else was there for me to do? I had already accomplished my goal on the mic. That’s when I started acting and I became the Vice President of Death Row Records.
Men’s Mag Daily: Eminem also said you were one of the greatest on “”Till I Collapse” on The Eminem Show.
Kurupt: Right, right, Eminem said it on that record too. I definitely feel like I had a lot of influence. When Dogg Food came out and also my solo album it started affecting the way a lot of people were saying their rhymes. West Coast rapping back then was simpler where the East Coast was more technical but that’s kind of changed. Dudes like Game definitely have that East Coast style. I was instrumental in all that and I’m definitely proud of it.
Men’s Mag Daily: Speaking of Dogg Food, it’s considered one of the best-selling independent albums of all time and that was released in 1995. Were you guys kind of ahead of your time on that because now everybody is releasing their music independently?
Kurupt: Not really, the only reason we went independent is because Interscope and Warner Brothers didn’t wanna release it. (Laughs) We had no choice to go independent. Nowadays everybody is going independent by choice. Now, a lot of people have a lot of negative things to say about Suge but I’m gonna point out some positives about Suge. Suge raised up a whole generation of young men and gave them a chance, gave them hope, and gave them a job so they wouldn’t have to be out in the streets gangbangin’. He also changed the way that you market and promote records and how you put them out. When Dogg Food came out on Priority Records Suge proved that it wasn’t because of Interscope that we were sellin’ all these records. It was the staff of Death Row records and the mind of Suge Knight. Suge made sure everything went smooth with that album. I like to point out the positives because if it wasn’t for Snoopy I wouldn’t ever have been around Dre and Suge. And if it wasn’t for Suge my career wouldn’t have reached the level it did because he supported Dogg Food.
Men’s Mag Daily: Do you and Suge still have a relationship today?
Kurupt: There’s no bad blood. Me and Suge stay cordial and we stay cool. When we see each other we keep it all positive. (Kurupt coughs for about 30 seconds at the end of which he screams “Damn, this is that Caviar Gold!”) But yeah, I try to focus on the positive when it comes to Suge. He’s even talkin’ To Snoopy right now. A lot of people don’t know that but he’s talkin’ to Snoop. He’s one of my mentors and I don’t support the negativity and he respects that about me and I respect that about him.
Men’s Mag Daily: How are you feeling about this new breed of West Coast artists from Problem, to Nipsey, to Kendrick?
Kurupt: These guys are doin’ well and not only are they doin’ well but these guys are some of the top rhymers out today. Nipsey out there doing his thing, plus we got Dom Kennedy. We got Kendrick and Schoolboy Q got the number one record in the nation. We got the number one pupil, Kendrick who topped the charts and stood up for Cali. He did his thing on the Big Sean “Control” record, he showed love. And he got a record called “Kurrupted”.
Men’s Mag Daily: I’ve heard it, it’s hot. So Kurupt, what are you working on right now?
Kurupt: I got my new album comin’ called Conundrum. It’s for the confused people out there. I’m gonna hit ‘em with so many different styles. We Got GTV 2. The Dogg Pound is completed. I’m just always workin’ man, you know? This is my third round at this game man. I’m ready for this, my third round.
Men’s Mag Daily: On this album, will we hear some familiar voices like Dre and Snoop?
Kurupt: I don’t think I’m gonna hit ‘em with the cliché man. They already expect that, you know? You’re gonna hear the young’uns on this joint man. I’m followin’ them right now. I’m learnin’ what to talk about from them. I’m actually gonna drop an EP first and the single is gonna be me, Kendrick, Terrace Martin, and Problem. They’re leadin’ real well right now and I’m real proud of them and their skill level and all that. I want something original, you know? I’m gonna do this EP then hit ‘em across the head with the Gotti album with Fred Wreck. I’m doin’ some movies as well. I got my first one with Dr. Zodiak called The Taco Shop. I like to connect the music with movies and make sure everything is connected, you know? There’s always gonna be a lot comin’ from Kurupt. I’m workin’ hard, you know?
Article By: Jon DaBove