Rapper Kurupt is a Philadelphia native who moved to South Central at age 16. He gained local fame as a battle rapper, and outside of the Roxy one fortuitous night met Snoop Dogg, who helped launch his career on The Chronic and Doggystyle and in his duo with Daz Dillinger, Tha Dogg Pound. Thanks in part to the enduring raunchiness of “Ain't No Fun,” Kurupt maintains as one of the most beloved G-funk veterans.
He performs at the Shrine on Sunday, October 12 as part of the Day Off festival, which is put on by label Fool's Gold, and also features A-Trak, Danny Brown, and the reunited Invisibl Skratch Piklz. We talked with Kurupt about EDM, the reported Dogg Pound project with Bone Thugs-N-Harmony, how Suge Knight once threatened to push him into a pool, and the best advice Snoop gave him.
How do you feel about electronic dance music?
I love it. I got about five EDM records right now. I gotta do it. I like to have a little bit of fun. The ladies love it, you hear me? And I love what the ladies love.
How have your sets evolved over the years? How is a Kurupt set different today than it was 10 or 20 years ago?
It’s more seasoned now, because I know what to do, whereas 10 or 20 years ago I didn’t know how to rock the crowd totally. I was nervous. The people couldn’t tell, but you’d feel it as an artist. So my confidence has definitely risen throughout the years. I’ve seen what works and what doesn’t work. I also watched a lot of other artists perform, saw what they do. I keep my eyes opened to the crowd. A lot of mistakes came from falling. In order to know how not to fall, you got to fall.
How’s the Dogg Pound's collaboration with Bone Thugs coming?
Me and Layzie, we putting together that Thug Pound project. Snoopie and Krayzie are headlining that thing. It’s just hard to get all of these bodies together in the same room at one time. Bone Thugs stay touring. Me and Layzie are dropping these songs, and when Snoop and Krayzie grab it, it’s gonna be classic. And that’s a good thing for hip-hop. One of my best friends is Layzie Bone, so it’s good to show how you can get over a hump.
I know you had beef on record with Bone Thugs back in the day, but did you guys actually have contact with each other?
There was contact, baby. But God is good, luckily nobody got hurt. Bone Thugs ain’t no punks, and the Dogg Pound ain’t no punks, so when you have two people like that having issues, it can really, really get ugly. There was times we would see each other, and it was almost on and crackin’.
You and Snoop met when you battled outside a club, right?
The Roxy on Sunset, that’s where I met the Dogg, in the parking lot right next to the Rainbow. It was a showcase, like a battle of the bands, and I came back because I was the last week’s winner. [Snoop] was supporting [Long Beach rapper] Domino. In the end Domino won that one.
So when we all got outside, waiting for our cars, represented was L.A. — where I was from — and Long Beach, and people get to talking to each other. “What’s happening, what y'all doing?” “We got the greatest rapper, Kurupt.” “Man, he ain’t the greatest rapper. Why he got that big jacket on? What are you, LL Cool J?”
Domino busted first, then me and Snoop started busting, and by the end Snoop said, “You tight, and I’m tight. We might as well start rocking together.” Snoop said, “You the only one I ever met who was tight like me.” I said the same thing.
There was a Death Row picnic in Calabasas, at a park near Dr. Dre's house. Snoop said, “Come up here, I’m here with Dr. Dre.” After [the picnic] we went to his house. Suge said, “I heard you was tight. If you’re wack, we’ll throw your ass in the pool. If you’re tight, we’ll give you a record deal.” I [performed] and Suge gave me the deal on the spot. He said, “You Death Row.” Later he said to come to the studio. Dr. Dre was working on The Chronic at the time.
What was it about the working atmosphere that helped make The Chronic so good?
I think it was the love. We was like a family. Everyone had their camps, but those camps combined. Dre, Suge and Snoop were the ringleaders. They took care of us, like older brothers.
There was a certain love, it wasn’t just a business. Once the family broke down, that’s when it was over.
You wrote on “Do You See” with Warren G. That’s a very poignant song. What gave you the idea for it?
He wanted me to write something. I said, “I’m going to write about the 213 experience.” On all the records he had, he didn’t tell his story. I wanted to tell the story of him, Nate [Dogg] and Snoopie. I know if I did that I would have a classic. Anything else would be an album filler. How 213 started, from Warren G’s angle? Now that’s gonna be classic. I asked him a bunch of questions, and I wrote the rap as he was telling me. Originally the beat was “The Little Drummer Boy,” but they wouldn’t give me the clearance.
Are you surprised that “Ain't No Fun” has become maybe the most enduring song off of Doggystyle?
I’m startled. Always have been. Snoop’s the one who taught me how to make songs. All I wanted to do was serve rappers. Snoop was like, “You can’t kill everybody, you have to make records people can relate to.” Sometimes you have to talk about reality. “Ain’t No Fun” wasn’t my style; it was little soft. It was Dogg’s style. But it turned out to be my most memorable record, my most quoted record.
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