From The Vault Part 4: Tha Dogg Pound – Cali Iz Active
October 19, 2016 Leave a comment
I absolutely love hip hop music. Even more specifically, I love west coast hip hop. I actually many forms of the art that is hip hop, but old school west coast hip hop will always hold a very special place in my heart. As I grow older, I do find myself becoming more immersed in the “alternative hip hop”. In fact, acts that I have covered here at Trainwreck’d Society (Bodi, Cas One, Sleep, Sadistik, etc.) are probably a bit more “conscious” (what the fuck does that really mean, anyway?) than the great Kurupt Young Gotti, Daz Dillinger, and Big Snoop Dogg. But, god dammit if I don’t appreciate them all that they are. This is why I still have a place in my heart for the 2006 one off comeback of Tha Dogg Pound that had me banging in my Toyota Corolla like a motherfucking boss for all of 2006, and is still a staple in the Vault that I don’t believe I will ever be able to let go of any time soon.
West Coast hip hop in the early to mid-90’s definitely reigned supreme during its time. It was just a strange contrast to what everyone typically knew as hip hop. It’s definitely false to say that it was “better”, it was just different. It was a sound that took the smooth flow of a group like De La Soul, but spoke just as rough and raw as a Rakim. It was a sound that felt as soaked in sun as the folks who were putting the music out did. N.W.A. led the way in bringing the reality of the street life to the mainstream, but it was their followers that truly laid the framework for what could be known as the West Coast Hip Hop. I actually like refer to them as Dre’s Kids. When Dr. Dre released The Chronic in 1992, nothing would ever be the same. From that point on we were introduced to the likes of Kurupt, Daz, Nate Dogg, DJ Quick, etc. Also we can’t forget about the associated G Funk Era with folks like Warren G, The Twinz, and The Dove Shack. What a fucking time to be alive, that’s all I’m sayin’. I mean, was like 8 or 9 years old, so I don’t entirely know, but you know what I mean. Although I will say that I was listening to these dynamic records only shortly after they were released, yet were still very relevant and mostly current.
So, it is safe to say that I have always been infatuated with West Coast hip hop, and more specifically, Tha Dogg Pound. And if I really had to get more specific, Kurupt Young Gotti. I have long considered Kurupt to be one of the greatest lyricists. Now, I’m not going to sit here like a fucking MacBook Warrior and say that Kurupt is some kind of poet. Because a poet he is not. But in the world of hip hop, there is so much more that goes into creating and disturbing lyrics. And Kurupt knew (still does actually!) how to fucking RHYME. He may not be Shakespeare, but I do believe he is the Shakespeare of the West Coast Hip Hop sound (which ironically might have something to do with his east coast roots? Maybe). At the very least, he has been pretty under appreciated for what he has given to the world of hip hop. But, that’s another story.
So now that I have spent enough time evading actually talking about the album Cali Iz Active itself, I guess I will get into it. In all reality, this album is not that great. It does have some great bars from Kurupt and Daz, and also Snoop is in there every once in a while. You get a bit of that old school feel, but basically not enough. But, you have to remember what hip hop was like around the time that this album was released. It is most obvious when you notice guest appearances from the likes of Paul Wall and David Banner. In the world of hip hop around that time, they were the type to run the show. So, it pretty much made sense that Dawg Pound would feel the need to be somewhat relevant and bring some of these people on board. And an appearance from Diddy might be symbolic reminder that the beef shit has been long and over. But I will have to say with all honesty that these were the low points. Especially in contrast to the high points, whiter there were a few, I promise you. Highlights would have to be the single by the same name “Cali Iz Active” that kicks off the album and was obviously meant to be the highlight. Other less obvious highlights are actually the tracks where they almost bring the whole thing back to the old school. Kurupt is at his best on “Keep It Gangsta”, and dammit was it great to hear Lady Of Rage again! And “It’s All Hood” brought us back to the old school with a great appearance from Ice Cube and what felt like Snoop Dogg doing his best Kurupt impression, which was something entirely different from his normal swagger rap but ultimately enjoyable.
In the end, this was just a fun album that I always want to hold on to. Also a great friend of mine gave it to me for my 21st birthday, which was so unexpected that I remain grateful. And the friend in question was actually a guy who was teaching me all about hip hop in the south, especially the stuff that was all the rage at that time. I will admit that it never real sunk in with me. And at the same time I was trying to legitimize West Coast hip hop to this dude from Atlanta, which I don’t think it really sunk it with him either. But, it was a mutual love and respect. So, it’s not the greatest bit of symbolism, but I like it. And that’s all that matters.
You can buy this album on the internet.