Kurupt : Space Boogie: Smoke Oddessey

Dre and Snoop associate still going strong after almost a decade

Though a rapper of no mean ability, next to mates and associates like [a]Dr. Dre[/a]

and[a]Snoop Dogg[/a], Kurupt’s always seemed more like, well, the underdogg. But nine years on from his debut on[a]Dr. Dre[/a]’s seminal album ‘The Chronic’, it’s time to – ahem – give that dogg a bone, for with the eccentrically spelt ‘Space Boogie: Smoke Oddessey’, [a]Kurupt[/a] has made the best rap album since[a]Outkast[/a]’s ‘Stankonia’.

It’s not particularly innovative and it doesn’t tell us anything new about the human condition, but ‘Space Boogie: Smoke Oddessey’ displays a peerless gift for the party rocking hip-hop tune. Amazingly consistent for a rap album, especially one of 70 minutes’ duration, it contains bangers in every genre from funk-reinforced pop (‘It’s Over’) to soaring G-Funk (‘On Da Grind’).

Like all good parties, ‘Space Boogie…’ features loads of guests (Fred Durst and DJ Lethal from [a]Limp Bizkit[/a]; Everlast), but it’s the Dogg Pound regulars that shine. [a]Nate Dogg[/a]

’s cold, dead-eyed vocals are as effective as they were at the height of gangsta rap; meanwhile [a]Kurupt[/a] spits the usual bitches

and ‘hos narratives, but more by way of rap convention than with any serious ill will. Indeed, much of the album seems to hark back to an idealised gangsta golden age, before the Tupac/Biggie murders sent it

all tits-up.

In this context, the absence of Godfather Of Gangsta, [a]Dr. Dre[/a], would normally be

a crippling omission. It’s a tribute to the quality of[a]Kurupt[/a]’s producers – and the superb pacing of the tracklisting – that

he isn’t missed at all. ‘Fuck Da World’

races along on [a]Timbaland[/a]-style multiple beats, ‘Kuruption’ pulls off that tricky campfire folk/hip-hop crossover, and ‘Can’t Go Wrong’ is rendered irresistible by an über-jiggy melody on that most maligned of instruments, the saxophone. ‘Lay It On Back’, which features an out-of-his-depth Fred Durst, isn’t anything to write home about,

but a rewrite of Johnny Kemp’s swingbeat anthem ‘Just Got Paid’ (now titled ‘At It Again’) succeeds triumphantly, despite following a cover last year from those notorious gangstas[a]N Sync[/a].

‘Space Boogie: Smoke Oddessey’ undoubtedly features more showbiz polish than hardcore grit, but it’s all to the good.

Whether you believe that [a]Kurupt[/a] and his

now slightly long-in-the-canine mates

are still, as they say, ‘The Hardest Mutha Fuckas’ really doesn’t matter. This is a superb album which cruises where even the likes of [a]Missy Elliott[/a]

ground to a halt, a ray of scorching LA Sunshine to irradiate your summer.

Alex Needham