Kurupt, Tha Streetz Iz a Mutha (1999)
Tha Streetz Iz a Mutha, the second solo offering from Dogg Pound Gangsta Kurupt, arrives in the midst of West Coast hip-hop renaissance. Led by luminaries such as Dr. Dre, Mack 10 and the Likwit Crew (Alkaholiks, Xzibit) as well as indie artists like Dilated Peoples and Jurassic 5, Los Angeles is finally emerging from the rubble of the Death Row era. Kurupt, along with DPG members Snoop Dogg, Nate Dogg and Daz Dillinger, was an integral part of the label’s dominance. Tha Streetz Iz a Mutha doesn’t reminisce over those days, but it certainly drudges up memories – good and bad. There’s the relentless, tightly wound verses and the pounding, woofer-rattling beats, best exemplified by cuts like “Represent Dat G.C.” and “Who Ride Wit Us.” But The Streetz iz a Mutha also comes adorned in a violent, misogynist tone. At one point, Kurupt and several others clearly state their gang banger allegiances by shouting “Crip walk!” The most controversial song is a final, hidden track. Titled “Callin’ Out Names,” it finds Kurupt with Xzibit on the chorus, taking DMX to task for allegedly pushing up on former girlfriend Foxy Brown. “Extraordinary/Trying to snatch my bitch/You can have my bitch,” Kurupt snarls over a Fred Wreck track. Underneath Kurupt’s overweening hostility is a well-crafted but uneven record. He’s grown as a lyricist since the days of Dogg Food, tossing out lines like “Psychosomatic/Automatic static/Catatonic, supersonic/Bubonic chronic addict.” Although his flows sometimes deteriorate into rambling verbiage stuffed with overripe words, they’re a major improvement from his monosyllabic forays of yesteryear. However, the quality of the beats is often suspect, varying from Fred Wreck’s top-notch “Who Ride Wit Us” and “Represent Dat G.C.” to “Girls All Pause,” Bink Dogg’s stilted rehash of the Klymaxx classic. Tha Streetz Iz a Mutha accurately reflects Kurupt’s appetite for destruction, which doesn’t always make for easy listening. Nevertheless, it’s arguably the best solo album of his career. Antra Records, with distribution by Artemis Records.