Ricardo Brown, largely known to the world as Kurupt, is not the man he was just a year ago, much less the brash teen on the cusp of adulthood when he emerged as a member of the Death Row Records camp. Kurupt’s ups and downs haven’t bittered his spirit or outlook and in a new interview, the Philadelphia native and current California resident spoke confidently about not only his legacy, and his journey on how he came to arrive at his current space of peace.
East To West
Kurupt graciously and candidly spoke with Hip-Hop Wired, primarily to speak about his upcoming seventh studio album TRANSITION and his new single “Transformation,” which drops today (September 24), but also covered more ground about his upbringing in Pennslyvania to moving out to the West Coast and reaffirming his purpose as a rapper and a man.
“The whole point of the ‘Transformation’ single and the video, it’s the story of me, the story of Kurupt from the beginning to now,” Kurupt began, sharing that what he’s embarking upon now is part of a new beginning of sorts.
“The title of the album is self-explanatory,” Kurupt continued. “From youth to adulthood, the growth, that’s the whole key to the transition. Going from being a young man to becoming an adult, that’s what I’m giving them musically with this project. The growth in the type of music that I make, but also the growth of Ricardo. I’m giving them my life, the transformation into the new me, the new Ricardo.”
If you’ve heard any of Kurupt’s music since the 1990s, one is well aware that he glided comfortably over Dr. Dre tracks, and later Daz Dillinger’s G-Funk creations but also had the rhyming abilities of a cipher sniper who could bar your head off, a distinction the East Coast claimed and commanded up until mid to late-1990s. Kurupt says he owes much of that by way of his sharing of his life over the years and gaining the fearlessness that his given method of expression has granted him.
“I’ve been giving people my life’s story in bits and pieces, I’ve given them the gift of seeing me at all my ups and downs via television, interviews, music, the whole thing,” Kurupt says.
“The youthful mistakes I’ve made taught me how not to make those mistakes again. So from being a kid not knowing no better to becoming an adult and getting better slowly but surely, that’s always been in the music. What we looked at as important in Philly wasn’t really important in California. So for me to come from Philly to Hawthorne as a teenager and then South Central Los Angeles, you can hear all of that, my ups and my downs, in the music and my appearances in the public eye but now we up again.”
Kurupt shared that if he stayed in Pennsylvania, it’s very possible that the artist we see today wouldn’t exist. He credits his father and many of the people he met in his time in the streets out west for mentoring him and zeroing in on his talent.
“They say there’s a positive to every negative, and I’m living proof of that,” Kurupt adds on, not muting his words or allowing his gratitude for all of his life’s twists and turns to waver even slightly.
“When I crashed my momma car, she was like ‘you gots to go’ and that negative experience turned into me running into the land of opportunity, my father and I got closer, and I made friends in this industry that helped make Kurupt who he is today,” Kurupt confirms.
What Kurupt wants to make extremely clear for readers is that his parents are deeply responsible for the man we see today not just by way of his musical influences and upbringing, but also the character he displays in his current state of being. Kurupt wouldn’t “The Kingpin” if it weren’t for the presence of his father and mother on opposite spectrums of career trajectory.
It goes without saying that Kurupt’s scene-stealing moments all across Dr. Dre’s classic album The Chronic, collaborations with Snoop Doggy Dogg, his work in Tha Dogg Pound, and hall across his solo career, Young Gotti has rapped with the best and sometimes even outshined them. We asked him where did the tenacity and God-given versatility as an MC stem from.
“You just said it, it’s God that gave me this, I couldn’t have said it better myself,” an animated Kurupt expressed. “God blessed my momma with talent, then blessed me with talent. I was blessed enough to be born into the rhythm and soul of Philly.”
He adds, “My cousin Skippy G taught me the game of rapping, and Rakim was my greatest inspiration as an MC. But it was the blessing of meeting Snoopy (Snoop Dogg), who taught me how to make songs. Dr. Dre and Suge [Knight] taught me the business, and then God blessed me with El-Dog and Broomy, plus I can’t forget my godmother Teena Marie, and that’s how you get me today.”
The humility present in Kurupt’s voice shined through at this stage of the conversation, and it was clear that coming to California at the age of 16 and now coming into the last years of his 40s, Kurupt is prepared to make a transition.
TRANSITION Era and Beyond
Kurupt signed with Heritage Music Group back in 2019 and the partnership with founder Jovan Dawkins has been fruitful, to say the least. TRANSITION, according to Kurupt, places the bitter with the sweet, and that is definitely evident in the single “Transformation” which features Sierra Jenee and Candace Wakefield.
While on its surface, “Transformation” might come across as somber and most certainly reflective, but the pen work that Kurupt has always been possessed with is strong as ever. Kurupt’s distinct ability to bend and twist flows at will is matched with almost blinding transparency, a testament to the work Kurupt has put in both musically and spiritually.
“The single is one of the first songs we did for TRANSITION and it was Jovan and so many other parts to the wheel that set the tone for the album,” Kurupt said. “The single is one side of it but the video [which will premiere soon] will definitely explain the direction of the album better than the song would. TRANSITION is my story, my life. It’s the life of Ricardo Brown to Kurupt and back to Ricardo Brown again. ”
As mentioned previously, Kurupt’s public struggles made their way to the masses, most notably on the Marriage Boot Camp series where the rapper suffered a relapse while battling alcohol abuse. Naming individuals who helped him overcome his reliance on alcohol, Kurupt credited his wife Lilli and even saluted his ex-wife and others for giving him the reality check he needed to get back on track.
Life is a series of hard lessons and failures, but there is also triumph and joy on the other side of the tribulation. Kurupt and his two-decade and still ongoing career is a prime example that setbacks make way for opportunities, especially when one is transitioning into becoming the best version of themselves.
TRANSITION is slated for release in 2022. Please click here to find the album’s first single “Transformation” and spin it at your preferred DSPs. We’ve included a Spotify link below.