With Hip-Hop 50 celebrations erupting across the globe, the spotlight is on the culture’s roots more so than in recent years. Although Hip-Hop’s origins are often a topic of debate—some mark August 11, 1973 as the day it took shape, while other believe it happened earlier—one thing can’t be disputed. Hip-Hop consists of four core elements: emceeing, deejaying, graffiti and breaking.
But somewhere along the way, “rap” became interchangeable with Hip-Hop, which only does the culture a disservice. After all, rap is just one element of Hip-Hop. Despite the glaring oversight, the pioneers, architects, trailblazers and pillars of the culture are organizing in droves. And, with the extra attention on the anniversary, they’re seizing the moment to take the culture back from entities that have tried to destroy it.
Case in point, South Los Angeles OG Kurupt—one of Eminem’s favorite rappers—has returned with a new single called “Don’t Ask Me” featuring Suga Free with production by Prohoezak. An unmistakably West Coast affair, it’s yet another promising sign that Hip-Hop is coming full circle. Kurupt sees it, too. Speaking to AllHipHop, Tha Dogg Pound legend excitedly talked about the future.
“A lot of these corporations are filled with people who didn’t know the history,” he says. “A lot of these corporations were still with people who didn’t respect the history, and a lot of these corporations was filled with people who was strictly business, right? They wasn’t about the culture. Now we’re starting to get back the culture. The culture is priceless. Now when you get back to the culture, you can see people getting their props.”
Kurupt admits as a young kid coming up in the Crenshaw district, he wasn’t as familiar with Hip-Hop history as he is now—but he’s had great teachers along the way. At age 19, Kurupt signed with Death Row Records and was surrounded by Suge Knight, Dr. Dre, Lady of Rage, Snoop Dogg, Nate Dogg and RBX. He and Daz Dillinger ultimately formed Tha Dogg Pound and were featured on Snoop Dogg’s monster solo album Doggystyle in 1993. With so many talented and motivated people around him, he learned who people like Kool Herc, Afrika Bambaataa and Grandmaster Flash actually were.
“That’s the key to the game— who is your leader?” he says. “Everybody has to have somebody they mind, and everybody has to have a good leader. And I had great teachers, and that’s who educated me about the culture. They educated me to developing my style. A lot of these people, they didn’t have great teachers.”
After decades in the game, Kurupt is a mentor now too. He’s in no way slowing down his output either; “Don’t Ask Me” is just a taste of what’s to come. As he explains, “I have a Kurupt Presents: A Toast to the Coast project coming out. I’m going to do a dedication to the West Coast. All records on there are for the West Coast. I flipped an Eric B. & Rakim record. It’s a dedication to my idol. I also have a solo album called Transition that should be coming out next year. I’m working on the next Dogg Pound project with Daz and Snoopy, too [Dogg Food 2]. We’re staying busy.
“Dogg is all over the place, so we gotta wait for the champ. Oh my god. He’s with Jack-in-the-Box, you understand me? He’s over there with Martha [Stewart]. He’s over there doing big things. He’s on the beach drinking Corona. He’s everywhere! Once Snoopy hits, I shut down. Once the champ calls and the mack signal goes up, I gots to go. I get it in now before Dr. Dre and Snoop call.”