Kurupt Details The Classic Death Row Songs That Began As Freestyles

For more than 20 years, core fans kept hope that the HRSMN might release an album. As one of Rap’s earliest super-groups, the quartet composed of Kurupt, Ras Kass, Killah Priest, and Canibus hurdled label challenges, leaks, bootlegging, legal woes, and all that comes with four separate lives and careers. Earlier this month, the HRSMN delighted their base by keeping a promise that dates back to Y2K. The Last Ride is a buffet of bars, with four celebrated lyricists coming together in the spirit of competition and a love for Hip-Hop.

Kurupt is the guest on the latest episode of Ambrosia For Heads‘ What’s The Headline podcast (embedded in video and audio below). Young Gotti provides the history to the HRSMN and explains why The Last Ride is the proper debut group album and why—despite its title—it may not be the group’s last ‘go-round. He also details what each MC represents in the group and reveals how some of the songs on the album began decades ago.

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While speaking to What’s The Headline, Kurupt also offered some anecdotes to his pre-HRSMN career. The co-founder of Tha Dogg Pound (who discussed new group music as well as solo material) revisits his Death Row days. Asked about one incredible  early ’90s freestyle alongside Dr. Dre, Daz Dillinger, Snoop Dogg, and Nate Dogg, Kurupt talks about off the top rhyming helping create classic songs. At 23:45, he shares, “[My] cadence and delivery is freestyle.” He adds, “How I say it and how I deliver it, that’s the freestyle of it. ‘Cause it ain’t sayin’ it how it should be; I say it to a beat and the rhythm. I so I stop at places I wouldn’t stop at [if it was written]. It’s just how I feel as I’m sayin’ it. I freestyle my flow,” Kurupt describes, using his hands for emphasis.

Kurupt continues, “But most of my raps start off as freestyles—just feelin’ the beat, bustin’ to it, and then I’ll say a line that [impresses me]. Then I’ll repeat it again, and that might be the beginning of my sh*t. ‘Ain’t No Fun’—that’s a fun record.” Young Gotti goes back to the Doggystyle classic and mimics his thought process during Snoop Dogg and Dr. Dre’s early ’90s session. While bopping to the beat, he kicks Death Row lyrics before stumbling on his couplet from the ’93 song that became memorable. “It all comes from freestyling. Like on Doggystyle, ‘Tha Shiznit,’ one-take-jake—all freestyle. Snoop got behind the mic. The beat was playing and he went straight all the way through—as you hear it on the record. Dr. Dre was lovin’ it, ‘Oh, that’s a keeper.’ Dogg said, ‘Okay, let me write to this; I like this.’ [Dr. Dre] said, ‘Nah.’ [It was] that easy. Doc Dre taught us that our freestyles can be actual songs. That really set the pace for me for [the future]. If it’s tight enough and it sounds good [in the freestyle], I might just keep the first four bars to set the cadence and my voice delivery. From there, I might write eight bars. ‘Doggy Dogg World’ was a freestyle in the beginning; ‘If you gave me 10 b*tches then I’ll f*ck all 10 / See my homie Snoop Dogg sippin’ juice and gin / Don’t trip…’

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Kurupt says that process continues with The HRSMN and some of his verses. “‘Morticians’ was a freestyle, and I turned it into lyrics. Oh yeah. I’m makin’ ni**as panic!” Elsewhere in the conversation, Kurupt speaks about why he’s rejected professional battle raps, discusses Ras Kass bringing The HRSMN together, and speaks about the late Ricky Harris and his role with the DPG family.

The timestamps for the Kurupt interview are as follows:

0:00 Intro
1:15 How the HRSMN (Ras Kass, Canibus, Killah Priest and Kurupt) were formed
3:30 What each Horseman represents
5:30 Why Kurupt decided to join the super-group
7:14 How they were able to complete the album after 20 years of setbacks
11:25 How The Last Ride album by the HRSMN was created using new and older material
14:30 The HRSMN’s desire to make their album a reality for the fans
17:20 The knowledge Kurupt got from Snoop, Daz Dillinger, Dr. Dre, Suge Knight and more
21:50 What inspired him on “Believer”
23:45 Kurupt on which classic Death Row songs that were freestyles
26:50 Kurupt on a HRSMN battle with Black Hippy, Slaughterhouse or 4 members of Wu-Tang Clan
28:38 Kurupt’s history with battle rapping
32:00 Kurupt’s favorite battle rappers
33:50 HRSMN rapping over Pat Benatar music
36:23 Rapping on Snoop’s “Doggy Dogg World”
36:50 Ricky Harris’ impact on Kurupt, Daz and Snoop
38:50 The MC who brought the fun to HRSMN’s The Last Ride album
40:00 How it feels to finally release the HRSMN album
41:17 The new projects Kurupt will be releasing soon, including a new album from Tha Dogg Pound

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Ambrosia For Heads readers can catch regular discussions about the culture on our What’s The Headline podcast. Additionally, What’s The Headline has recent interviews with Evidence, Skyzoo, Pharoahe Monch, Prince Paul & Don Newkirk, Statik Selektah, Lyric Jones, The LOX, MC Eiht, Havoc, Duckwrth, photographer T. Eric Monroe, and Lord Finesse. All episodes of the show are available wherever you stream your pods.

#BonusBeat: Ambrosia For Heads’ official playlist, featuring selections from HRSMN’s The Last Ride album as well as new music from IDK, MF DOOM, Westside Gunn, Jay Electronica, Tyler, The Creator, Skyzoo, Isaiah Rashad, Lloyd Banks, J. Cole, Sa-Roc, Khrysis, and others: