Kurupt: Against Tha Grain

[2 November 2005]

By Roger Holland

As Marc Lamont Hill has said repeatedly on this very web site, contemporary hip-hop sucks. A perfect case in point, Against Tha Grain blows donkeys. Professionally. Let me break this shit down for you.

Real proper like.

First of all, this album is so old, it’s been dead for decades. Musically, it would’ve been tired and ignored in the ‘90s, though it’s not so much Old School as Junior High. Chronologically, it should’ve come out over a year ago. And now it’s finally seen the light of day, Death Row has disowned it, blaming distributors Koch for removing some tracks, while Kurupt has disowned it because Koch wouldn’t remove more. In an ideal world, they would have all disowned it for the simple reason that Koch left 18 tracks on Against Tha Grain and all but two of them blow donkeys. Professionally.

Next, I read the news today. And oh boy. This just in: the Titanic sank and 2Pac died. Why can’t modern hip-hop… ahem… get off his dick, stop robbing his grave, and let him rest in peace? On “My Homeboys (Back to Back)”, Kurupt uses the same set of second-rate 2Pac lyrics that his homie Nate Dogg used five ago on “Me and My Homies”. To less effect.

And talking of Nate Dogg, is he Kurupt’s homie this week? Or is he just another punk ass bitch mother-lover who’s going to get his? It’s so hard to keep up with hip-hop’s pro-wrestling soap opera vendettas and schizophrenic star wars. I listen to Against Tha Grain, and I hear Kurupt all over everyone’s ass like spandex trousers. Last year, when Against Tha Grain was the comeback album he was proud of, Kurupt talked seven kinds of shit about his Dogg Pound collaborator Daz. And Daz posted a brutal freestyle response on the DPG web site: “You ain’t a 6-0 crip, you’se a wannabe”. This year, of course, they’re all down like James Brown. In a clown suit. And Kurupt is pissed because Koch wouldn’t pull all the tracks that attacked his 2005 buddies.

What’s worse, Kurupt knows these feuds are nothing but media hype. He says so very clearly on “Speak on It”: “First it’s war, next it’s donation, false mediation about situations.” So why play the game at all when you know you’re going to end up having “peace conferences” chaired by everyone’s favorite pimp uncle Snoop? Rappers today are like four-year-olds at recess. What’s next for a fallen star’s career? West Coast TV presents a new reality show, I’m an OG Rappist, Get Me Out of Here Or I’ll Pop a Cap in Yo Ass, Mother-lover?

Perhaps these rappers really are schizophrenic—what with all that chronic and everything? How else to explain their need to acquire new names like they were buying bling from Jacob? How many names does a rapper really need? Ricardo Brown, Kalhoon, Kingpin, Young Gotti. Kurupt’s got more names than rhymes these days. And, while we’re on the subject, how old does a rapper have to be before he’s too old to call himself the young anything? Young Gotti? Uncle Junior more like.

Against Tha Grain certainly sounds like Kurupt spent much more time nursing grudges and worrying about marketing than on delivering the goods. From start to finish, it’s an ugly, awkward, poorly produced piece of nonsense. The lyrics flow like polluted sludge. Uphill. Half the time, Uncle Junior is pissed like Lesley Gore (It’s his party and he’ll cry if he wants to), threatening long slow deaths and a darn good talking to, for rizzle, to anybody and everybody who dares to have had more success than he does. And then the next thing you know, he’s holding out an olive-branch.

Either Kurupt was truly confused or, more likely, Against Tha Grain was pulled together in a rush from three or four years worth of second-rate material without any thought or controlling vision. I doubt Against Tha Grain would have been released at all if Kurupt and Daz’s kiss-and-make-up album Dillinger And Uncle Junior Gotti 2: Tha Saga Continuez wasn’t scheduled for a November release on DPG Records. And, honestly, it shouldn’t have been.

But modern hip-hop sucks. Like its spelling.

Published at: http://www.popmatters.com/pm/review/kurupt-against/