LOS ANGELES -- Tha Dogg Pound rapper Kurupt may be venturing out on his own, but he's acting no less self-assured.
On the eve of the Tuesday release of his inaugural solo album, Kuruption!, the hardcore rapper wasn't feeling at all modest about his expectations for the ambitious double-disc debut.
"I'm hoping it will do about 8 million [copies sold]," Kurupt said Monday, taking a long drag off his cigarette with a playful smirk on his face.
The 25-year-old rapper -- known for his blend of party tunes and gangsta milieu -- was celebrating the album's release with a private soiree and public show Monday night at the downtown club Grand Avenue. "I'm loving it," Kurupt exulted as he danced to a Kuruption! number called "Make Some Noize," which was blasting over the speakers in a side room of the venue.
Clad in a blue jumpsuit and a baseball cap turned backward, the Philadelphia-born and Los Angeles-based Kurupt (born Ricardo Brown) appeared to be in full-fledged celebratory mode. He puffed on cigarettes and greeted his guests with high-fives and hugs.
As the latest in a seemingly endless procession of double-length albums being released by hip-hop stars of late, Kuruption! is designed as a bicoastal record. One disc is geared toward the more groove-focused West Coast, while the other more lyrical and beats-oriented album is geared toward the East Coast. It is the first release on Kurupt's own ANTRA Records, a joint venture with A&M Records that is being pitched as the "first bicoastal hip-hop label."
The rapper took the stage at about 11:15 p.m. to play a few of the album's more party-oriented numbers, including its first two singles, "We Can Freak It" (RealAudio excerpt) and "Gimmewhutchagot." But Kurupt was far from alone onstage. His partner in the platinum-selling rap group Tha Dogg Pound, Daz Dillinger, also was on the microphone, and several other members of Tha Dogg Pound camp were dancing and singing along.
"The record's banging," Daz said just prior to taking the stage. "I did a song on there called 'Fresh' and one called 'C-Walk,' and it's all banging. Kurupt's doing his solo thing now, and I'm doing my thing, but we're gonna do another Dogg Pound record next year."
In the middle of all the celebration, a fight broke out on the floor 10 minutes after Kurupt and his crew hit the stage. Immediately, the room was thrown into chaos. Several party-goers jumped up on the already extremely crowded stage, while others ran toward the venue's exit signs.
"I was out there dancing and all of a sudden these guys started getting into it," 19-year-old fan Daisy Williams said. "So I just started running until I smacked into somebody." Although the fracas stopped the show for a few minutes, house security broke up the fight and the performance resumed shortly thereafter.
Despite the incident, the celebration of Kurupt's official debut as a solo artist went well.
"Me and Kurupt can freak it any day, and you can print that," said 21-year-old fan Tishauana Mack, referencing the sexual innuendo of the album's sultry-grooved first single, "We Can Freak It."
Kurupt closed with a performance of the song "Fresh" (RealAudio excerpt), which he began by encouraging a call-and-echo exchange with the crowd. "All right, I said, 'We are ...' "
"Fresh," they shouted back.
"Anything Kurupt does, I like," said fan Maete Udoh, 18. "It's down, and his vocabulary's down. He's a good artist. He's not just a rapper. He knows what he's talking about."