Seasoned rap fans will be familiar with Tha Dogg Pound, a legendary West Coast crew from the 1990s consisting of Kurupt and Daz Dillinger. I associate him with Death Row Records, Dr. Dre and Snoop Dogg, yet Kurupt has earnt his stripes. Much like fellow Los Angeles wordsmith Ras Kass, Kurupt has garnered a reputation as a legendary gangster rapper whilst always having one foot continually wedged in the underground. Now widely considered an underrated lyricist amongst hip-hop heads, his work with The HRSMN remains a fascinating diversion during the years Tha Dogg Pound was separated. Alongside Canibus, Killah Priest, and Ras Kass, he held his own amongst heavyweight competition. This latest release from Kurupt, “Don’t Be Stupid”, is an interesting collaboration with C-Mob, an emcee from Fort Wayne (Indiana) who has history in the horrorcore scene.
When it comes to the West Coast, it’s not a given that you’ll get strong production, but it certainly feels more likely than anywhere else. “Don’t Be Stupid” is populated by warm, accessible beats that are ultimately let down by the self-serious ignorance on display. “I Ain’t Even Know” is the type of record you play to piss off any women in the vicinity, and sounds quite jarring when delivered without any sense of humor. I’ve always maintained that ignorance is itself an art, whereby a likable, talented personality could turn detestable behavior into something enjoyable – otherwise it’s just somebody saying horrible things. Unfortunately, C-MOB’s past drives the sentiment of “Don’t Be Stupid”, with Kurupt leaning harder into the misogyny that seemed acceptable thirty years ago, but now sounds rather tasteless.
Much like when Kool G Rap worked with Necro, the two emcees aren’t afraid to lean into each other for inspiration. The sheer audacity to land a Snoop Dogg verse, and sandwich it between two pornographic boasts on “Players Ball” is equally bold, and stupid. It’s a recurring theme, perhaps a product of the shock-value arena C-Mob operates in, but it sticks out when alongside great rappers, even more so in video form.
The C-Mob solo effort “Wanna Be A Ho” is a good example of this, not so much in the frank, simplistic content, but the insistence of overexplaining lines like “when you wanna unleash your inner ho, you know who you go to see (me)” demonstrates a lack of self-awareness. Compared to Kurupt who states “I like ladies like Adele that treat her pussy well” which is humorous, nicely alliterate, and certainly thought-provoking, there’s a disparate feel to the two emcees – the chemistry isn’t quite there.
C-Mob’s outlandish statements do occasionally show evidence of wordplay (“I got the tail, laid the pipe and exhausted her”) but his monotone delivery rarely accentuates or offers inflection where needed. Therefore, it’s difficult to believe some of the rhymes. “Da Bizness” is a better showcase for C-Mob’s flow, and he sounds more comfortable firing off syllables at a faster rate.
Crooked I and Spice-1 appear on “Everywhere”; a great way to end the album. The piano is grimier than anything Dr. Dre would make, and it suits the emcees’ more aggressive approach with C-Mob doing his best Nate Dogg impression. That’s pretty much the reason to give this album a listen – it’s littered with fan service. There’s even a Kendrick Lamar interlude, and with West Coast legends like MC Eiht and X-Raided, it’s an album seemingly designed to overdeliver on the humble artwork and understated intro. In fact, the “Mid-West (Intro)” may go the hardest of all.
C-Mob and Kurupt aren’t afraid to dumb it down, catering to the lowest denominator on their terms. Half of the album is good, but I’m not sure the combination of C-Mob and Kurupt really works. The former has an airtight flow in his locker that’s rarely utilized, and the latter often phones in his verses relying on charm. You’d be stupid to buy this one, but it’s also not the smartest decision to overlook what’s at least an interesting album.