Kurupt & J Wells: Digital Smoke

Kurupt, iconic west coast rapper and member of Tha Dogg Pound, presents Likwit Crew producer J. Wells on Digital Smoke (Bonzi Records). Not only do the lyrics emulate the style of Cali Hip-Hop, but J Wells’ production takes it back to early Dre days. The album is a homage to the originators of G-Funk, such as NWA, Snoop Dogg, The Alkaholiks, and DJ Quik. With the recognizable beats of “I’m Just Sayin’” and “Itz Nothin’” fans know that J Wells is well-versed. Yet, as much energy as he puts into mastering the classics, there is plenty of room for creativity.Kurupt and J Wells believe that Hip-Hop is no longer a battle between coasts. In order for the music to stay fresh and progressive, it is as vital as vitamins to experiment with new combinations. J Wells produced a track, “Play Yo’ Flute,” for Atlanta’s Goodie Mob a few years ago. The sound fused the southern strong bass with the left side’s laid back vibe. On Digital Smoke Goodie Mob returns on “Get It,” with Roscoe, and adds some southern pop ‘n drop flavor. Now the song can be pouring out of cars from coast to coast, north to south. “Summertime” is a feel-good bar-b-que or pool party track, with lyrics that don’t quite match its knockin’ beat. The O.G. funk of “Smokin’” is as contagious as it is reminiscent of—yes, daring—Dre’s The Chronic. James DeBarge sings the hypnotizing, high-pitched, all-too-familiar hook (see Nate Dogg). The recreation of Rakim’s funky “I Came In The Door,” with the nasal vocals of Kokane, is a comedic take on the classic. Let’s face it, most producers who venture into emceeing, more often than not, disappoint their fans (see Alchemist). This is the farthest from the truth when it comes to J Wells. Even though Wells and Kurupt penned Digital Smoke to pay respect to the crew’s favorite pastime, they have managed to create an album with plenty of fire.