Space Boogie: Smoke Oddessey

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Following his career-establishing debut on Dr. Dre's The Chronic in 1992, Kurupt quickly proved that he wasn't your standard West Coast gangsta rapper. No, Kurupt is much more than that -- he has brash charisma and more than enough attitude. He doesn't shy away from drama and isn't afraid to speak his mind. Yet character only goes so far -- even in rap. On Space Boogie: Smoke Oddessey, Kurupt finally brings some substantial creativity to that sense of character. This was what prevented Streetz Is a Mutha from being a great album -- he had rhymes and beats but couldn't bring it all together into a satisfying album. He does that here, to an extent. Yes, Kurupt finally manages to bring a sense of songcraft to his rhymes on Space Boogie. Every song here seems to capture a different motif: Some take a feel-good Cali-sunshine approach, others capture a theatrical gangsta approach. In addition, Kurupt employs a number of talented West Coast guests (Snoop Dogg, Xzibit, Nate Dogg), which brings a sense of variety, and employs primarily one top West Coast producer (Fredwreck), which brings a sense of cohesion. So when you break the album down to its elements, Space Boogie has all the makings of a perfect rap album. But it ultimately falls a bit short. More than anything, Kurupt's songcraft goes a little too far as he seems willing to try everything from hardcore rap ("The Hardest...") to pop-rap ("It's Over"). And by sadly inviting along Fred Durst and DJ Lethal from Limp Bizkit, in addition to Everlast, Kurupt's ill-fated crossover ambitions seem a little too overt. Still, even if Space Boogie doesn't quite realize its ambitions by overreaching, it shows that Kurupt's on a steady path to superstardom.

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