Formerly known as Tha Dogg Pound, Daz Dillinger and Kurupt return here with another remarkable round of the gangster rap they helped popularize as integral members of Death Row Records in the 1990s. The duo's Daz, employing his signature singsong style on parts of the 21-cut offering, is the star of the collection (due Tuesday), producing and rapping throughout.
Although Dr. Dre earned most of the accolades for the production of Death Row's records, Dillinger shows here that he's no slouch when it comes to beat-making. "Here We Are" is somber enough to inspire tears, while the forceful "Dipp W Me" is a textbook example of modern-day gangster rap.
Kurupt, one of the West Coast's most respected lyricists, enhances his already rock-solid reputation with meditations on the hard-core rap staples of death, double-cross, debauchery and drug dealing. But Kurupt and Daz don't blindly glorify the gangster lifestyle. They acknowledge the pitfalls that come with the life of an outlaw, giving the collection a depth rarely achieved by current gangster acts. Xzibit and Beanie Sigel deliver strong guest performances on an explosive album that should reestablish the two as the West Coast's most respected partners in rhyme.
Albums are rated on a scale of one star (poor), two stars (fair), three stars (good) and four stars (excellent). The albums are already released unless noted otherwise.