There’s Not Much To Show For K-Solo’s Time On Death Row…Except This Rare Freestyle With Kurupt (Audio)
By mid-1996, Suge Knight’s record label started calling themselves “The New & Untouchable Death Row Records.” From 12″ singles to posters, the branding was widespread—especially on the label’s (first, of way too many) Greatest Hits compilations. Inside the double-album compilation’s inserts, Heads saw the expanded roster of the reigning Rap imprint, along with the sales figures, and famous black portraits of its stars.
While Dr. Dre was on his way out (and notably dissed by Dayton, Ohio Dre under-study J-Flexx within the compilation’s single), his portrait was included. However, here (as well as in some media ads) the label announced some new signings, including MC Hammer, David Blake (DJ Quik’s government name), and K-Solo, among others. While Hammer’s comeback was widely touted, as the fallen Oakland, California superstar was a regular entourage member within the mid-’90s label functions, K-Solo may have come as something of a surprise to Hip-Hop Heads.
After all, K-Solo was a vicious MC known for his work within PMD’s Hit Squad. The Long Island, New York MC maintained a rugged style, a cranky demeanor, and kicked letters like Pat Sajak. While the label was entrenched in a feud, oft-perceived as with the East Coast, “the Letterman” was a peculiar addition to the family. However, upon closer inspection, it makes some sense. After all, by early ’96, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania MC/producer Sam Sneed was still touted (along with Nate Dogg, The Lady Of Rage, and Danny Boy) to be one of the next acts to break within the massive roster. Sneed got a video hit, assisted by mentor Dr. Dre in 1994’s “U Better Recognize.” But what Heads often miss is that Sneed had work dating back prior, especially on K-Solo’s sophomore set, 1992’s Time’s Up, which appeared on the Top 200 charts for Atlantic Records.
By the mid-’90s, the MC who appeared on EPMD’s “Head Banger” (which they still perform) was a free agent. Sneed brought Solo over to Tha Row (before making his own exit to work with Dre again at Aftermath Entertainment). Like so many things in the Hip-Hop mythos, there is next to nothing to show from K-Solo’s time rollin’ with Rap’s most controversial label. There are just two relics, a freestyle (possibly from prior to 1996, due to The D.O.C. and Dre shout outs) of the MC rapping alongside Tha Dogg Pound’s Kurupt to Dr. Dre’s “Gin N’ Juice” classic instrumental. Although the quality is poor, the ruggedness is very apparent, and the lyricism is top-notch.
This originally appeared on DJ S&S’ Something For That Ass Part 2 mixtape.
Several years back, the new ownership of Death Row Records shared another critical link—the first in more than 15 years of S-O-L-O’s time out West. Kurupt and Kevin must have taken a shine to each other, as “Wolf Tickets,” from the 20 To Life: Rare And Dangerous, Vol. 1 compilation is the only other artifact:
PMD’s star protege hits the track with his gravel voice, anger, and disregard for convention. The song was originally released as a 12″ single in 2004 on K’s Waste Management imprint, perhaps as a bootlegged carryover from several years prior. “Death Row” is mentioned on the song, while Kurupt does not officially rap.
Had the label been able to secure a release of K-Solo’s third album, would it have “worked” in your estimation?