Review Summary: Too insecure, almost. Still good.
People say you’re only as good as your last album, and in many senses, it’s true. For years, Kurupt has been lost in mediocrity, hopping around dead label Death Row and his collaborations with fellow DPG-er Daz Dillinger, the rare collaboration in Canibus hosted The HRSMN was never impressive for Kurupt. He kept being stuck, that is, until his collaboration album with DJ Quik, which seemed to pop a funk. Critics raved the album, and suddenly people were hyping Kurupt like it was the early 90s and G-Funk was still in style. Kurupt, seeing this opportunity, packs his new album Streetlights
full of himself, perhaps too much.
Kurupt, worried about his future, attempts just about everything. He hires Terrance Martin, a relative new comer, to produce almost every track, and he manages hit every track he has on the head, but never goes to far beyond it. “Intro” serves as the basic show off for Kurupt’s wordplay ability, giving him a basic drum beat, majestic synths, and ominous grooves to completely rip to shreds. He gets his chance to show off word play just about every other song, while others are offish radio play attempts, like Kurupt’s mini-hyphy attempt in “Burnt” or the utterly washed up Lil Jon donation in “Riot In The Club”. The worst song off the record, however, might just be “Scrape”. “Scrape” is a piece of brooding, electro funk that serves as one of Terrance Martin’s better beats here, but it’s honestly it’s one of the most misogynistic songs ever written by Kurupt (pretty bad for the guy who said on a Dr. Dre song that you’re “more bitch than a bitch”).
However, when Kurupt moves past these horrible attempts to appeal to the club, he proves that he can write purely awesome rap excellence. “Questions” is something in the vein of Snoop Dogg’s “Neva Have 2 Worry”, only with a conscious lyricist being involved, while Pete Rock’s smooth piano loop “Yessir” features an oddly mellow-ish Kurupt who still manages to rip the mic with multi-syllabics and wordplay. However, the highlight of the album would have to be “In Gotti We Trust”, the albums shortest song. “In Gotti We Trust” is dominated by war drums, bottom booming bass, and grueling, warbling synthesizers, while Xzibit and Kurupt get absolutely gruff on haters. Despite Xzibit generally being the king of gruff MC-ing, Kurupt absolutely outshines him with a flow that almost sounds like he’s ranting, shouting rhyming words meshing together into one aggressive growl that is both maniacal and oddly creative in a stream of conscious way.
As a rapper, he’s hollow. He doesn’t really want to share much of his life with you, he’s just here to tell you that Snoop and his crew is still on top of things. He’s got a gruff growl, and he has a knack for internal rhymes and just getting aggressive about things. However, here, he’s in that odd position where he’s showing off some more of his mellow rapping. It’s like, sometimes, he feels like he doesn’t have to prove himself to people, just pulling off internals and fun word-play things without seeming to try. He sounds much more effortless in rapping, and sounds much more laid back than he ever did during the laid back G-Funk era. He even addresses it on “Yessir” a track that seemingly switches from clever wordplay to saluting his clique including Snoopy and DPG.
On the lyrical tip and flowing tip, it seems that Kurupt is back on it though. He hasn’t sounded this impressive in years. However, what keeps this from being what could easily be Kurupt is insecurity. He sounds effortless on record, but what’s really in his heart is that he’s humbled that’s he’s given a second chances like this, and ultimately doesn’t want to botch it. And yet, the songs he’s written to attempt to not spoil it are songs like “Scrape” and “Burnt”, two songs almost dedicated to ruining the albums running progress. As it is, Streetlights
is a record that was not expected from a late career Kurupt, but it’s a little worse than we hoped considering his record with DJ Quik.