Crooked I reignites Hip Hop Weekly with a tribute to Gang Starr
Much of the hip-hop world didn't find out about Crooked I until he partnered with Royce Da 5'9'', Joe Budden and Joell Ortiz to form battle-rap supergroup Slaughterhouse. But on the West Coast, the Long Beach rapper has been an underground linchpin since the mid-'90s, when he was signed as a teenager to Noo Trybe/Virgin Records and collaborated with artists such as Snoop Dogg, Tha Eastsidaz and Luniz.
A perennial victim of label politics, Crooked lost his deal when Noo Trybe folded. After discussions with Daz Dillinger's DPG Records and Dr. Dre's Aftermath proved fruitless, he signed with Suge Knight's Death Row around the fin de siècle, appearing on various compilations and waiting in vain for his album to be released.
When his contract expired, the rapper born Dominick Wickliffe hit the mixtape circuit hard, releasing a spate of acclaimed tapes notable for Crooked's unhinged lyrical assault and homicidal growl. Notoriously prolific, his greatest feat was his Hip Hop Weekly series, where he unleashed a "freestyle" every week for 52 consecutive weeks. The efforts led to him being named one of XXL's Top 10 Freshmen in December 2007.
After a lengthy hiatus, during which his freestyle-a-week scheme was re-appropriated by numerous other rappers, Crooked I has returned for another year-long experiment. Week 1 of "Hip Hop Weekly Reloaded" finds him crafting a tribute to the late Guru of Gang Starr. Rhyming over "Mass Appeal," Crooked I is at his best: witty punchlines, industry salvos, clever wordplay. It does the memory of his former label mate right.
Download: (via Nah Right)
MP3: Crooked I -- "Hip Hop Weekly No. 1 (Mass Appeal)" (left click)
-- Jeff Weiss
Photo: Crooked I; Credit: Crooked I MySpace