Published Jul 17, 2009As a fiery MC bred in Philadelphia ciphers before being sun-drenched in California bravado, Kurupt has always attacked hard gangster tracks with a violent case of witty Tourette's. Like a raw street ball talent in need of coaching if he wants to win, Kurupt's solo albums frequently ran too long and featured unreliable production. Enter producer/rapper DJ Quik (aka Phil Jackson) and you have the makings of a veteran (if unlikely) L.A. dream team. On the clumsily named BlaQKout, Quik gives Kurupt both the direction and fleshed-out sonic support his career needs. By tightening the LP's track list to a mere dozen songs (the shortest CD in the Dogg Pound G's 13-album career), the listener is actually left craving more rhymes about slaying women and shunning haters. Substance takes a back seat to style, as Quik (a onetime Piru) and Kurupt (who knows how to Crip walk) avoid dialogue on gang unity and instead focus on making summertime car themes and boundary-punishing beats. From the minimalism of "9X Outta 10" (a "Grindin'" for Cali) to the electro-chop of "Ohh!," Quik composes a fresh brand of spaceship bandana music that should put his name back in the conversation of producer/arrangers to watch. And if Quik's enthusiasm during the new duo's recent tour is any indication, this isn't just a one-off collaboration.
The world just got word of Michael Jackson's death. How are you feeling?
DJ Quik: First of all, we're hip-hop artists, so I think in this climate, especially as hot as it is where we are - Tucson, AZ - we're very anxious. We're anxious to go do the sound check and entertain these people tonight, and anxious about the news of Michael Jackson's surprising death. I remember listening to Dangerous, man, and going, "One day I want to work with Teddy Riley." Damn. That fuckin' "Remember the Time" was just dope!
Why record a whole album with Kurupt?
DJ Quik: We can sit up and make records all day and have groupies all day and get our egos stroked. But our stuff is based on substance. Our life is based on turning in records, and when I saw Kurupt, I thought, "Kurupt could turn in 40 records."
The album features few guests but Yo-Yo makes a nice return appearance on "Whatcha Wan Do." How did that materialize?
Kurupt: Yo-Yo is like a sister, straight up. When she [originally] came out it was like Janet Jackson in Rhythm Nation.
DJ Quik: She has her acting and motherhood going on but she came through to be part of the project out of love. Yo-Yo came through, did her verse; I'll give her some beats. I thank God for the barter system in hip-hop. She was the first female in hip-hop that the West was proud of. Ice Cube gave her his credit card. (Mad Science)