"Waste not, want not" may as well be Suge Knight's mantra he, more than any other record executive, knows the importance of making the most of studio time.
It may take a few years, but chances are if you're one of Knight's past or present artists, your Death Row recordings are going to see the light of day. Knight has been able to eat off Tupac Shakur's music for years after the acclaimed MC died, and he even put out a couple of Snoop Dogg albums long after the Long Beach, California, native found refuge with Master P down South. Now Knight is geared up to put out an album by former Death Row inmates Tha Dogg Pound.
Featuring music recorded as late as a year and a half ago, Tha Dogg Pound 2002 is set to be released on July 31, two weeks after Pound member Kurupt drops a new solo album and three months after he and his partner Daz released an LP of new material.
"I kinda wanted to put Tha Dogg Pound back on the concrete, so I picked the more grounded records [for the album]," said Gregory "Hutch" Hutchinson, a.k.a. Above the Law's Cold 187um. "For a while, they had been doing more radio-friendly tracks, unlike what they had been doing at the beginning of their career."
As head of production for Death Row (a position once held by Dr. Dre), Hutch was responsible for scouring Suge's vaults and choosing songs for the album. Once he selected the cuts, he went through a month and a half of doctoring up the tracks.
"I went back and put a 2001 twist on them," Hutch said. Besides adding verses from current Death Row acts, including Crooked I and SKG, Hutch added his own enhancements such as bass and synthesizer parts to about 70 percent of the album's beats, which were primarily produced by Daz.
"[I changed them] not merely for the sake of changing them, but to enhance them, make them sound sweet and rich," he said. "That's an extra twist."
The Pound's LP has a distinctive g-funk feel. They team up with Tupac Shakur for "Don't Stop," which sees Daz rhyming about "mashing with the craziest, illest ni---as in town" while Pac lets off shots at Bad Boy Records, claiming to be "a Biggie annihilator" and a "Bad Boy killer." Meanwhile, Kurupt displays his usual battle rap skills.
The opening seconds of "Living Tha Gangsta Life," which features a cameo from Xzibit, includes a newscaster reporting that Snoop Dogg told police that Suge Knight killed Tupac. Then rapper Big C Style comes in and admonishes snitches.
Snoop himself is featured on "Smoke," and Nate Dogg can be found on "Just Doggin." The Row also secured the rights to include the remix of Jay-Z's "Change Tha Game" on the album.
As for how Tha Dogg Pound, who released their LP in May under the moniker Dillinger & Young Gotti, feel about the new album, Daz couldn't be reached for comment, but said in April that he had no beef as long as he can reap some of the financial rewards from its sales. Kurupt said Suge's move is something he would've done himself.
"I'm shocked he ain't been did it," Kurupt said recently. "I'm a fan now. I'm ready to buy it. There's so many songs on there I remember doing back in the days, I know he got. I'm like 'Man, I'd been drop a Dogg Pound record.' People wanna hear that. He got the rights to it so it's about time."
Hutch said he hasn't discussed the album with Tha Dogg Pound. "Everyone is kind of at a different level in terms of having different visions of the project, but I think they will be happy with it because it sounds great. Although I'm overseeing their work, my intentions were to make them look good. No matter what the politics are, it's still art."
You'll get to hear quite a bit more of Hutch's musical sculpting: He says the Row has banked at least two more albums' worth of Dogg Pound tracks.
Tha Dogg Pound 2002 track listing, according to Death Row:
- "Roll Wit Us"
- "Just Doggin" (featuring Nate Dogg)
- "Smoke" (featuring Snoop Dogg and the Relativez)
- "Gangsta Rap" (featuring Crooked I)
- "10 Til Midnight" (featuring SKG)
- "Living Tha Gangsta Life" (featuring Xzibit)
- "Don't Stop" (featuring Tupac Shakur)
- "Change the Game (remix)" (featuring Jay-Z, Beanie Sigel and Memphis Bleek)
- "Crip Wit Us"
- "What Cha About"
- "Your Gyrlfriend" (featuring Mac Shawn and Soopafly)
- "Feels Good"
- "Way Too Often" (featuring Soopafly)
- "It'z All About Money"
- "Every Single Day" (featuring Snoop Dogg)