It figures it took Kurupt to leave Death Row and reunited with Tha Dogg Pound for his long awaited Death Row album to finally be released. I mean, why would they put it out while he was still on the label, his names not 2pac? Nevertheless, Against Tha Grain is hardly worth the four-year wait. While no one expects Kurupt to go back to his old style and actually spit lyrics that make sense, what people have come to expect from him is good production. That is the main problem plaguing Against Tha Grain, as a variety of producers provide inconsistent beats throughout.
The king of West Coast filler material - Rick Rude - provides his usual synthesizer production on the bland "Deep Dishes." As usual, the production lacks any depth, creativity or emotion. Similarly, Tha Row Hitters put forth a simplistic string arrangement on "I'm Back," while Kurupt falters with his usual tirade of nonsensical lyrics. Things get even worse on the laughable x-rated tales of "Stalkin'," which suffers from a case of the lame hooks disease.
The only producer on Against Tha Grain that provides Kurupt with any stability is Mark Sparks. His arrangement of edgy guitar riffs and quirky keys on "Throw Back Muzic '86" makes for a vintage West Coast track dedicated to the good old days. "Jealousy" featuring M.O.P. and Roscoe is the album's best track, as foursome never sounded better over Sparks' wailing guitars and piano loop. Kurupt also opens up on "Tha Past" featuring Dave Holister, as Young Gotti addresses the beef between him and Tha Dogg Pound, proclaiming, "As soon as I something for me to get a little further, everybody wanna trip like I didn't deserve it. Now when I see niggas like two or three years later, they still ain't got over the fact that I'm making some paper."
Even though Against Tha Grain is Kurupt's worst album of his career, there are glimpses of greatness that prove Young Gotti is still capable of producing material on the level of Tha Streetz Is A Mutha. Kurupt just needs the right team of producers behind him in order to reach that level once again.