Kurupt is one of the unheralded heroes of 90’s rap. He had a merciless approach that sounded more meticulous than anyone before him, and the way he built words on top of one another was like watching the construction of a rhyme fortress in real time.
He was born in Philly but moved to California at age 16, and after Dre heard the kid’s first recorded work with the S.O.S. Band, he contacted Kurupt’s manager and expressed a desire to work with the young spitter. Before long, Daz and Kurupt were splashed all over The Chronic and Doggystyle, although it’s rumored that Kurupt agreed to appear on this larger platform for exposure, not payment.
He would go on to found the Dogg Pound Gangsta Clicc, release a classic (and under-appreciated) album in Dogg Food, release a string of dope solo LPs, and become one of the most influential West Coast MCs of the modern era (as well as one of Eminem’s favorites). To celebrate his impact, we compiled 20 of his best guest verses. Bow down to the Kingpin.
20. Heavy D – ‘Can You Handle It’ (Feat. Daz, Herb McGruff, & Kurupt) 
Kurupt had a thing for R&B tracks, as evidenced by his first ever recordings on The S.O.S. Band’s One Of Many Nights album (he’s featured on three songs – ‘Are You Ready,’ ‘Someone I Can Love,’ and ‘Get Hyped On This’). His first manager, Lamont Bloomfield, was initially unsure about how to market Kurupt and had him try some gospel and R&B hooks, which may be why Young Gotti was so comfortable with alternative beats throughout his career.
Kurupt has two short contributions to Heavy D’s song, but he sets off his first verse with a surreal image of how to rock a show – “Since you our love child, the stallion of style / You live foul when on the prowl, I kidnap the crowd.”
19. Tracey Lee – ‘Evolution 3000’ (Feat. Buckshot, Black Rob, Kurupt & Reepz) 
Son sounds like he just woke up from a weed nap before he spit his verse, but Kurupt still manages to dominate his peers here. Everyone else must have felt like shit after hearing Kurupt outdo them whilst sounding like he was on Ambien. He even beats Jigga to the punch with the whole “my girl makes more money than all y’all” insult.
In case you need a bio to put on the dating site you just signed up for, try Kurupt’s life philosophy: “Fuck watcha thought, fuck watcha like / despite watcha thought and watcha think of life.” Deep down, he’s really a nice guy.
18. Cool Breeze – ‘We Get It Crunk’ (Feat. Kurupt) 
The edits that cover Cool Breeze’s slept on solo debut are hardly noticeable until Kurupt shows up dropping every kind of curse word. Somehow, both of his verses still simmer and expose the rust in Cool Breeze’s flow. It’s pretty clear that Kurupt is something of an elder statesman on the track, proved by the sage investigation he makes on his second verse.
17. Jodeci – ‘Come Up To My Room’ (Feat. Tha Dogg Pound) 
A year before their masterpiece, Daz and Kurupt were featured on soundtracks like Above The Rim and Murder Was The Case, both supervised by Dre. This was a highlight from the latter with Daz helping Devante on the boards. Kurupt sets the mood romantically – “I told you, bitch, I’d cry for you, I’d die for you / I lied to you, but getting the pussy is all I tried to do.” Later, he offers dick that’s “tasty as fuck” – gracious consolation for his trife ways.
16. Clipse – ‘Breakfast In Cairo’ (Feat. N.O.R.E. & Kurupt) 
Two OGs show the Brothers Thornton how it’s done, even though the Clipse outshine their peers. Kurupt commands the beat, drawing his verse with the composure of an army general surveying a map.
15. Warren G – ‘Gangsta Love’ (Feat. RBX, Kurupt & Nate Dogg) 
Most consider Warren G’s first album to be a g-funk standard, but he diversified his sound and upped the quality of guest features (Drag-On and Memphis Bleek aside) on his second effort, I Want It All.
Kurupt roasts back-to-back records, but he’s in top form on ‘Gangsta Love,’ opening with, “the homey just whistled, gave us the signal / to act the fool with the pistols, pierce the gristle” and later hissing that he’s the rap game Muammar Gaddafi. So don’t cross him or he’ll turn the blue sea red.
14. Rufus Blaq – ‘Out Of Sight’ (Remix) [Feat. Cam’ron, Ike Dirty & Kurupt] (1998)
Whoever finishes a posse cut is, in effect, the owner of that song, and it’s usually a spot reserved for the most respected contributor. That’d be Kurupt here – who else could mimic the antagonizing before fists get thrown? Shit, even Biggie had to let the fight break out before bringing the track back.
13. Heltah Skeltah – ‘Brownsville II Long Beach’ (Feat. Daz Dillinger & Kurupt) 
Everyone at least tries to sound passionate on this song – Kurupt is just detached, but it works to cool, calming effect. His LA-Z Boy is fully reclined and he’s spitting darts from under barely open eyelids. Cold jewels are dispensed as he plays the role of a ruthless killer better than anyone else on the song.
12. Lost Boyz – ‘Music Makes Me High (Remix)’ [Feat. Canibus & Tha Dogg Pound] (1996)
At the time of this remix, Canibus was relatively unknown, while Kurupt was fresh off selling two million records the year before. Once again, he’s the respected OG, recognized in any hood or music video. This was also released at the height of the beef between Death Row and Bad Boy while ‘Pac was still alive. It’s a perfect example of what East and West Coast artists could have been doing instead of quibbling over bullshit.
11. Dr. Dre – ‘Lyrical Gangbang’ (Feat. Lady of Rage, Kurupt & RBX) 
This shit is too disgusting. Over booming Led Zeppelin drums and a nifty Nite Liters loop, Kurupt comes on the track like a pissed off bull ready to buck his matador. He and RBX provide a nice yin/yang dynamic on The Chronic – RBX is more technique oriented with his recognizable voice, but Kurupt moves with precision, making every little syllable count.
Really, every single one of Kurupt’s guest verses on The Chronic could be mentioned, especially on the album’s zenith, ‘Bitches Ain’t Shit.’
10. Tash – ‘G’s Iz G’s (Feat. Kurupt) 
Tash and Kurupt are both brutally underrated West Coast MCs, and they prove it on Tash’s solo debut Rap Life (which should get way more love, too). Kurupt drops chunks of phrases like hash in a blunt on his first verse, nicely contrasting with Tash’s runaway style – “Poetical scanners / make the crowd go banana / furious, luxurious, and glamorous / bitches and cameras.”
Not only does he kill it again on his second verse, but he resurrects the beat and wrecks it two more times on the remix alongside Snoop and Xzibit. Kurupt makes the “lyrical miracle” approach sound fresh, despite it now being the butt of many jokes about overly technical rappers. Kurupt, along with early Eminem, is one of a handful of rappers who can execute it without criticism.
9. Kid Capri – ‘Creepin’ (Feat. Kurupt, 8Ball & Too Short) 
Included on the advance promo of Soundtrack To The Streets but not the final retail, ‘Creepin’ joins Western luminaries with Memphis great 8Ball for a noir rap highlight. Kurupt has two verses (those who wisely A&R his features seem to notice that he should rap more than once), and like most legendary rappers, it’s his phrasing that sets him apart. He doesn’t steal, he robs people for their terrain. He doesn’t fuck you up, he rocks you off your pivot.
The most impressive thing about ‘Creepin’ might be how effortlessly Too Short washes Ball and Kurupt off the track, though.
8. Dr. Dre – ‘Stranded On Death Row’ (Feat. Bushwick Bill, Kurupt, Lady of Rage, RBX & Snoop Dogg) 
Where Snoop’s flow is lackadaisical, Kurupt is high octane, and the way they bookend this song with equally impressive styles shows how keen of an eye Dre has for talent. It’s almost the end of the album, and Kurupt brings you not only into his own world, but his own damn cellblock. According to him, this is also the first track that Dre ever asked him to jump on.
7. Pete Rock – ‘Tru Master’ (Feat. Inspectah Deck & Kurupt) 
The lead single off Pete Rock’s much-loved solo album Soul Survivor finds Kurupt batting last to eviscerate Inspectah Deck. It’s funny to think about the credit INS gets for sparking songs off correctly (which he usually does, but falters here) when you realize how disgusting Kurupt comes on this. He drops a geography lesson in the very first line and by the end of his verse, he comes to embody that natural disaster – the track is rendered a wasteland by the time he’s done whirling through it.
6. 2Pac – ‘Got My Mind Made Up’ (Feat. Daz, Kurupt, Redman & Method Man) 
A rare instance of Kurupt not batting last, his verse nonetheless serves as an announcement that he’s on par with every other rapper on this track. Words fly like bullets in an organized fashion as Kurupt breaks down his method of crime, and though Redman clearly shits it down, Young Gotti isn’t far behind him.
Kurupt was so highly regarded at the time that 2Pac put him on another All Eyez On Me song, ‘Check Out Time.’ They’d go on to work together on songs like the original ‘Str8 Ballin’ and an Outlawz cut called ‘Die.’
5. Daz Dilinger – ‘Initiated’ (Feat. 2Pac, Kurupt & Outlawz) 
Kurupt pops up four times on the front side of Daz’s solo Death Row debut, Retaliation, Revenge and Get Back, burying beats like ‘Our Daily Bread’ with woozy assonance and delayed precision.
His verse on ‘Initiated’ might be even better, though – “Get rocked by my midnight glock / Sniper through sound vocal rival to invade the block.” There’s a swagger to his delivery that doesn’t always shine on paper – the bars are complex, but the way he quickens his pronunciation to make them tumble out is what makes him a mercenary spitter. He’s a one-man assembly line of rhymes – “the bomb Vietnam rhyme don.”
4. Gang Starr – ‘You Know My Steez (Three Men And A Lady Remix)’ [Feat. Lady Of Rage & Kurupt] (1998)
No diss to the late, great Guru, but you never really rewind any of his verses like you do Kurupt’s on this remix. Again, the event is amplified by the unison between East and West, but hearing Tha Kingpin over such a classic Primo beat is overwhelming on first listen. The way he picks apart the beginning of his verse is still unmatched to this day, and while he’s almost never named as an influence, you can hear strands of his DNA in many of today’s battle-ready rappers.
3. Snoop Doggy Dogg – ‘Ain’t No Fun’ (Feat. Nate Dogg, Warren G & Kurupt) 
Yes, Snoop has what might be the greatest opening line to any rap verse ever recorded, but it doesn’t leave Kurupt’s verse in the shadow – everyone needs money for endo to smoke. It’s easy to catch fumes off what Nate Dogg is doing to this song, but Kurupt is the glue that holds the quintessential party record together.
2. Dr. Dre – ‘Xxplosive’ (Feat. Kurupt, Hittman, Nate Dogg & Six-Two) 
“Backhanded, pimp slapped backwards and left stranded” stains your brain every time you hear ‘Xxplosive.’ The verse is full of quotables related to dicks, bitches, and something about a bowl, but his tone of utter disgust is what makes the verse so easy to remember.
1. Dr. Dre – ‘Puffin’ On Blunts and Drankin’ Tanqueray’ (Feat. Daz, Kurupt & Rage) 
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This is how you blow everybody else on a song to bits and pieces. Kurupt sounds angry and energized as he leapfrogs from one flow to another, oozing venom through his battle-torn skin. He raps like it’s the end of the world. Simply breathtaking.