Death Row: Unreleased

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In hip-hop, and to a degree music in general, there are few record labels as storied as Death Row. Def Jam have the best catalog, some say No Limit were the most innovative, but neither compared to the sheer star power and controversy caused by the crew from Compton. Launched by Harry-O’s drug money, forged by the brute force of Suge Knight and critically acclaimed thanks to the platinum touch of Dr. Dre, the label’s five year run may be the greatest apex in history for any rap boutique. So great that even the soundtracks were classic. But the shit you heard was only half of the deal. The other half? Well, it comes with its own story. Almost a year ago, we dropped a Death Row: Unreleased compilation on our since deleted blogspot page and got some crazy feedback. It’d be a shame not to have it archived on our new site, so we reformatted it, re-wrote it and added five more tracks to the mix. Since it was previously posted, it’s been often imitated, and in some cases, duplicated by mark azz bustaz tryna pass off my work as their own. (if you’re going to copy it to your own blog, at least give some damn credit). But that’s aight though, because the 2.0 version is even better than the original, complete with even the write-ups and pictures packaged together in an XML file for your own collection. This is for the zigganz that was down from day one, welcome to Death Row: Unreleased. Hit the jump for write-ups, tracklisting and the download link. Peace to dirt_dog from TROY for the cover art.

— Snoop Bloggy Blogg

Death Row: Unreleased
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101 Dogg Pound – Cant C Us
102 The LBC Crew Ft. Dat Nigga Daz, Snoop Doggy Dogg and Soopafly – My Heat Goes Boom (Original)
103 Snoop Doggy Dogg – Gz Up, Hoes Down
104 2Pac ft DJ Quik and AMG – Late Nite (Original)
105 Snoop Doggy Dogg – Do You Remember
106 2Pac ft Dogg Pound, Method Man, Redman and Inspectah Deck – Got My Mind Made Up (With Original Deck verse)
107 DJ Quik ft 2nd II None – Dollaz n Sense (Original)
108 Dogg Pound ft Nate Dogg And Big Pimpin Delemond – Big Pimpin’ (Original)
109 Snoop Doggy Dogg ft George Clinton and Jewell – Doggystyle
110 Dr Dre – the Hoe Hopper
111 Dr Dre – Rat Tat Tat Tat (Original)
112 J Flexx and Sam Sneed – Lady Heroin (Original)
113 Kurupt ft Snoop Doggy Dogg and Nate Dogg – Every Single Day
114 OFTB ft 2Pac and Big Syke – Better Dayz
115 J-Flexx – Stayin’ Alive

201 Sam Sneed ft Snoop Doggy Dogg – Blueberries
202 Snoop Doggy Dogg – Nigga Named Dave
203 Prince Ital Joe, Snoop Doggy Dogg and 2Pac – Street Life
204 Snoop Doggy Dogg and The Convicts – Playin 4 Keeps (prod. by Warren G)
205 Soopafly – I Don’t Hang (Rmx)
206 Snoop Doggy Dogg ft Dr Dre – The Next Episode (Original)
207 J-Flexx ft Dr Dre – Street Scholars
208 Kurupt ft Jewell – I Dont Bang No Mo
209 Snoop Doggy Dogg and Lady Of Rage – Its On
210 Kurupt – 40’z and Bud
211 Snoop Doggy Dogg ft Mack 10, LBC Crew and Kurupt – Keep It Real
212 Dr Dre – My Life
213 Snoop Doggy Dogg ft Nate Dogg – OG (Original)
214 J Flexx ft Danny Boy – Been Around The World
215 Snoop Doggy Dogg – Fallin Asleep on Death Row

Dogg Pound – Cant C Us

Produced by Dr. Dre, this was originally supposed to be a marquee track for Dre and Ice Cube’s much hyped reunion album Helter Skelter. When the project fell apart, mostly due to Dre’s displeasure with how Death Row was being ran and impending departure, Dogg Pound were there to pick up the pieces. After recording the song for 1995’s Dogg Food album, Daz had second thoughts. He was particularly pissy at what he perceived as Dre cheating him out of his production credits on the Chronic and Doggystyle albums. With this in mind, he decided to limit Dre’s involvement on Dogg Food to strictly mixing, effectively placing “Cant C Us” back in limbo again. Upon his release from prison, Pac picked up the beat (along with “California Love” which was initially supposed to be the lead single for Dre’s sophomore Death Row album The Chronic 2: Poppa’s Got a Brand New Funk) and created “Cant C Me” for his All Eyez On Me opus. I’m a big fan of both, but slightly prefer the Dogg Pound version, complete with the George Clinton scat on the outro. Unfortunately since it never made the album’s final cut and therefore Was never fully mastered, this is the best quality we have.

The LBC Crew Ft. Dat Nigga Daz, Snoop Doggy Dogg and Soopafly — My Heat Goes Boom (Original)

While the East-West coastal rivalry raged throughout 1996, Snoop, uninterested in quarreling with those on Suge and 2Pac’s exponentially increasing shitlist, turned his attention back to Long Beach City. Tray Deee, Techniec, Bad Azz and Lil’ C-Style made up the latest group of protégés from his hometown. With Snoop serving as Executive Producer, the clique was due to release their regionally anticipated debut Haven’t You Heard on tha Doggfather’s boutique label under Death Row – Dogghouse (now Doggystyle) Records. One track that received considerable attention was “My Heat Goes Boom,” a collaboration with Snoop, Daz and Soopafly. Weeks before mastering on the album was due to begin, C-Style decided that his royalties weren’t what they should be. Snoop assembled the group for a meeting at his house where Style, this time waving around the master tape for the album, again claimed he was being underpaid. After being rebuffed, Style snapped the tape in two, destroying the only copy of the debut and essentially disbanding the crew. The remnants of the group stayed loyal to Snoop and appeared on his Doggfather album. “My Heat…” caught a refit the following year, appearing on the Gridlock’d sountrack with a new beat and title – “Out The Moon” (Boom, Boom, Boom).” Lil’ C-Style was conspicuously absent from the track with 2Pac filling in a verse instead. The friction between Style and Snoop over the incident never was healed and following Snoop’s switch to No Limit Records in 1998, Style appeared on a number of Suge Knight sponsored smear tracks targeted at his former franchise. “Easy to Be a Soldier” alongside 2Pac clone The Realest and former Dogg Pound artist Swoop G attacked Snoop for being a studio gangster and mocked how he swapped Long Beach for Baton Rouge. On his next solo album, No Limit Top Dogg, Snoop struck back. Reviving the original hook for “My Heat…,” he ripped his former protégé for jealousy and misrepresenting the West.

Snoop Doggy Dogg – Gz up, Hoez Down

Probably the most recognizable of the unused Doggystyle sessions, primarily because it actually appeared on the first pressing of the album. A couple of cease and desist letters later, it was removed. Death Row/Interscope balked at the hefty license fee for Dr. Dre’s interpolative sample of Isaac Hayes’ “The Look of Love.” Unfortunate, as this would have been a standout joint on an already classic album. Almost reminds of my nerd-rap fantasy of “Deja Vu” being included on Illmatic. Almost. Eitherway, “Gz up…” is Snoop at his syrupy flow, sing-song delivery best and a keen reminder of how hard he fell in the years following his debut. The track was eventually released (unmastered) on the greatest hits compilation 15 Years on Death Row in 2006.

2pac ft AMG and DJ Quik – Late Night (Original)

Originally just an unused cut from the 2Pac and David Blake (DJ Quik used his government on Death Row recordings due to contract obligations elsewhere – see “Dollaz n Sense” below) All Eyez On Me sessions, this track was revived for Death Row’s Chronic 2001 compilation. Refitted with an extra 16 from ‘Pac and a couple Outlawz verses, it’s probably best remembered for its Donald Byrd “Wind Parade” sample and the poignant “club was poppin’ so I’m stoppin’ at the Fat Burger/ Look through the papers it’s another black crack murder” lyric. I’m actually feeling this version more than its successor for a few reasons. 1. This one includes better beat switch ups. 2. AMG and Quik rapping >>>> Outlawz. Feel like it’s a recurring theme with this list, but this really should’ve made it on the final album pressing.

Snoop Doggy Dogg – Do You Remember

Consensually considered an outtake from the Doggystyle sessions, this unused track made the Swapmeet rounds on bootleg cassette in the mid-90s. I tend to chronologically place this joint slightly earlier than some other heads. Firstly, Snoop’s style doesn’t seem as polished as it was on his debut and is a lot more reminiscent of his work on The Chronic and “Deep Cover.” Secondly, the track features looped portions of Funkadelic’s “(Not Just) Knee Deep” including extensive vocal samples. Why just sample the vocals if you could have had George Clinton come in and customize them himself during the same recording sessions that spawned “Doggystyle”? Dre, ever the perfectionist, surely would have opted for the latter. Such production methods are much more in line with The Chronic’s recording techniques. Or perhaps Dr. Dre isn’t the song’s producer at all. On the third verse Snoop clearly says “This how we do it in the Nine-Ace,” i.e. 1991. This could mean the track pre-dates Dre working with Snoop, leaving Warren G and Cold 187 as possible producers. In the same verse, Snoop spits “I need bass, like Dre used to make/ When NWA was in the mothafuckin’ place.” Does that sound like something someone would say while in the studio with Dre himself? Maybe, maybe not. Indeed Cold 187 used the same break and similar working for “Never Missin’ a Beat” on Above the Law’s Black Mafia Life classic in 1993. However, another telling lyric is “pop goes the weasel/ For tryna play me in the paint, like Shaq Diesel.” Shaq wasn’t drafted by the Magic until the summer of 1992, right slap bang in the middle of The Chronic’s recording sessions. When did the LSU grad harness the Diesel moniker and would Snoop have been aware of him pre-draft? Enough to give him a shout-out? Eitherway, Dre would revisit the P-funk sample on the intro to Doggystyle. If he did infact produce “Do U Remember,” then it’s unlikely he’d prominently use the same sample twice on the one album, nevermind use such a similar working of it with close proximity to the Black Mafia Life album’s release.

2Pac ft Method Man, Redman, Dogg Pound and Inspectah Deck – Got My Mind Made Up (Original)

When you press most anti-West Coast fans to name a Death Row song they actually like, this track is typically the answer. Obvious, what with the Method & Red feature and distinctly east coast feel. But there was always a mystery as to why Inspectah Deck’s signature “I-N-S the rebel” could be heard at the end of the track without him kicking a verse or being listed officially in the liner notes for All Eyez On Me. The answer was that the song wasn’t originally made for the album. While in LA for promo, Meth, Red and Deck were scooped up from their hotel by Kurupt and taken to Daz’s home studio. A couple of smoke sessions later and “Got My Mind Made Up” was born. Both Daz and Kurupt were excited at the prospect of featuring the song on their debut album, Dogg Food, believing that the presence of three of New York’s hottest rappers at the time would help offset any of the tensions exacerbated by other joints on the LP, such as the provocative “New York, New York.” Unfortunately when it came time for the mastering, the song was nowhere to be found. Dogg Food was released without the gem and “New York…” helped spiral the East Coast-West Coast conflict out of control. A few months later, 2Pac was out on bail, fresh outta jail and working on his first Death Row album. As was the mentality with all Death Row projects, material was submitted by committee. If an artist had something hot, they generally had to give it up for whatever album was next to drop. For All Eyez On Me, 2Pac was offered “California Love” and “Cant C Me” by Suge (much to Dr. Dre’s chagrin and another factor that would seal his decision to depart the label). After finding the lost DAT, Daz offered up “Got My Mind Made Up.” Inserting his own verse, ‘Pac removed Deck’s, possibly because he felt the track would’ve been too long or perhaps he was mindful of what happened to Sam Sneed. The decision to cut Deck rather than Meth or Red was likely taken as out of the three, he had the least visible appeal. Now that we know how the verse sounds, it makes it that much more grating. I certainly don’t want to get all Royce/Renegades with this (i.e. pretend that just because something was unreleased and then bootlegged that it suddenly supersedes the original when it really doesn’t) but there’s something to be said about leaving the best verse off the entire track. I guess someone didn’t want to get outshined.

DJ Quik – Dollaz n Sense (original)

Despite being signed officially to Profile Records for the best part of the 90s, Quik recorded a number of sessions for Death Row under his well-masked nom de plume of… well his government name (David Blake). Suge was reportedly quite fond of Quik (nh), as he was of most popular artists signed to other labels. In fact Suge and Quik took such a liking to each other that there was talk of the producer releasing an EP for the label. This never came to fruition, but Quik did make a couple of memorable donations to the Death Row discography, most notably “Dollaz n Sense.” Stemming from a perceived insult on Quik’s now infamous Red Tape to Compton’s Most Wanted’s MC Eiht, the beef saw the two trade insults with “Dollaz…” being what most (with IQs higher than dishwater) would consider as the apex. This joint is the original cut of the track with a different beat and a 2nd II None feature. Quik’s rhyme on here later became the second verse of the final version that appeared on the Murder Was The Case soundtrack.

Dogg Pound – Big Pimpin’ (Original)

Back in ’94, when Dogg Pound was nothing more than an undefined collection of Snoop’s ever expanding entourage, they recorded this classic for the Above the Rim soundtrack. Uploaded is a first session recording of the track which includes verses by Daz and Snoop with alternate lyrics. It also features an intro by Big Pimpin’ Delemond, a street poet Snoop had befriended in Long Beach. The intro was actually just a snippet of longer recording which would later be used for “Big Pimpin’ 2” on the Dogg Food album.

Snoop Doggy Dogg ft George Clinton and Jewell – Doggystyle

Another unused track from the Doggystyle sessions, this one has George Clinton all over it, both influentially and literally. Heavily sampling Funkadelic’s “Oh I” throughout, this is how G-Funk should sound. Smooth, lush and thumpin’. No idea why this one never made the album as it’s not only dope as fuck, but would have fit the theme perfectly. I doubt there were any sampling issues as Clinton was a huge supporter of Dre’s work.

Dr. Dre – The Hoe Hopper

An unused track from Dre’s legendary Chronic LP, “Hoe Hopper” is an extension of the themes found on the rest of the album. Pimpin’ hoes, gettin high and flossin’ the whip, Dre’s laid-back delivery floats over the playful production. Penned by Snoop, the first verse would be later used for his rhyme on the classic “Big Pimpin'” from the Above the Rim soundtrack. At the end of the mp3, you can hear the intro to “Let Me Ride.” Whether “Hoe Hopper” was simply recorded on the same reel as “Let…” or was originally going to appear on the album right before it is debatable.

Dr. Dre – Rat Tat Tat Tat

Along with “The Hoe Hopper,” this cut made its way onto Swapmeet bootleg tapes around the same time The Chronic dropped. Unlike “Hopper” however, “Rat Tat Tat Tat” actually made the album, albeit in a reworked form. The original version carries a more up-tempo rhythm and looped production. Since Dre didn’t use this beat for the final version, step-brother Warren G would revisit the Don Julian “Janitzio” break a few years later on his debut with “And Ya Don’t Stop.”

J Flexx and Sam Sneed – Lady Heroin

Once upon a time, Sam Sneed and J Flexx were being touted by Dr. Dre as the future of Death Row. Then 2Pac got signed, Sam Sneed got the shit beat out of him by Suge’s boys and Flexx became convinced that Dre was holding him back. Still, enjoy this joint as a representation of what could have been. Dope lyricism, fantastic metaphor usage and even a Wu Tang sample. A reworked version appeared on the Gridlock’d soundtrack, minus Sam Sneed but featuring a new beat and tight verse from Lady of Rage. One of the more artistic songs to come from the Death Row catalog.

Kurupt ft Snoop Doggy Dogg and Nate Dogg – Every Single Day

Listed as a Kurupt solo track, I’d imagine this was more a Dogg Pound crew joint showcasing the Philly transplant. Snoop uses his early Death Row freestyle form, referencing lines from “Nuttin But A G Thang (Rmx)” and “Who Am I? (What’s My Name)” which chronologically places this track in and around 1993. It was later released on the Death Row’s 2002 mix of unreleased Dogg Pound material, but with an alternative beat, different vocals and without Nate Dogg.

OFTB ft 2Pac and Big Syke – Better Dayz

One of Suge’s personally signed acts during Death Row’s heyday was Operation From The Bottom, a Blood-affiliated group representing Watts’ Nickerson projects. Likely best known for the hood classic “Crack ’em” from the Above the Rim soundtrack or the shoutout on 2Pac’s “2 Live and Die in L.A.,” the crew at one time were working on an album for the label. As was the case with all of the non-core acts, the LP never saw the light of day, although a portion of it was digitally released in 2007 under the title The Missing DR Files. According to OFTB, “Better Dayz” was originally the lead single for their Death Row debut. A strong opening salvo, what with the memorable feature from 2Pac and melodic beat from Johnny J (RIP). The verse by ‘Pac was so good that when the label began ransacking his acapellas and unreleased work they simply wiped out everyone else on the track and based a double album around its theme. The final release version would feature extra verses from 2Pac and a Ronald Isley hook. No OFTB and no Big Syke. The relationship between Syke and ‘Pac was an interesting one. Both seemed to live vicariously through the other with the rapper craving a gang-like sense of belonging and the street cat desiring the prosperity of rap. Interesting, but perhaps fatal for one of them.

J-Flexx – Stayin’ Alive

A protégé of Dr. Dre, J-Flexx filled in as the doctor’s personal ghostwriter after Snoop blew up. Penning hits such as Natural Born Killaz” and “California Love” while co-producing “Keep They Heads Ringin’,” the Dayton, OH native was one of the most valuable behind the scenes assets for the label. Unfortunately, Dre leaving Death Row put him in a difficult position. Should he set aside feelings of being under-credited for his work and follow the super-producer to a new home, or stick it out with Suge and hope for his unreleased album Billboard Dreams to see the light of day. He chose the latter, but not before writing “Been There, Done That” which would end up being Dre`s first single on Aftermath and an anti-gangsta rap anthem. To help his artists rebound from Dre`s defection, Suge flew them all out to the Bahamas to work on the Death Row: Greatest Hits compilation. With Suge in his ear instigating with insinuations that Dre had deliberately held him back and stolen not only his credit, but his publishing royalties, Flexx recorded the scathing “Who Been There, Who Done That.” Admonishing his former mentor for essentially fucking him over, he trumps Dre at his own game by jacking the beat and flipping it with some G-Funk. While “Who…” describes Flexx’s relationship with Dre during the Death Row days, “Stayin’ Alive” paints a much larger picture of the rapper-producer’s life, from his enlistment into the army to his split with Dre. As it was with many of the artists who signed to Death Row, Flexx’s debut album never did get a release. He went on to score productions for TV and partnered up with Shaq for charity initiatives.

Sam Sneed ft Snoop Doggy Dogg – Blueberries

Taken from his prospective Street Scholars album, this lead collabo matches Sneed’s east coast orientated lyricism with Snoop’s syrupy Long Beach flow. The track is a microcosm for what Dr. Dre wanted Death Row to be – a powerhouse label that took music from all corners and put a G-funk twist on it (a concept Snoop happily co-signed). Sadly, Suge had other plans. Such as having Sneed brutally beaten for giving too many cameos to New York rappers in his videos. It was this lack of vision that ended up tearing the company apart while Dre went on to become the driving creative force behind arguably the two biggest rap brands post Biggie/2Pac.

Snoop Doggy Dogg – Nigga Named DAVE

Continuing his Slick Rick influence, Snoop spits a story-tale rhyme about a knucklehead gangsta by the name of Dave whose greed and ignorance leads to his untimely demise. Most consider this to be another Doggystyle outtake. But There’s a misconception that this track was somehow the original version of “Murder Was The Case” due to the words “D.eath A.fter V.isualizing E.ternity” both appearing on the Doggystyle tracklisting and being printed across the MWTC soundtrack’s liner notes. In reality, the song bears no similarities to its argued successor, either in name or theme. Snoop later used the second verse for his excellent “Midnight Love” collabo with Raphael Saadiq and Daz Dillinger. The track was remastered and released in 2009 on The Chronic Re-Lit, titled “Poor Young Dave.”

2pac, Snoop Doggy Dogg and Prince Ital Joe – Street Life

Celebrating the close of Snoop’s ’95 murder trial, “Street Life” is one of the few collabos between the Long Beach rapper and 2Pac. I’d imagine this one dates somewhere around early 1996 as ‘Pac references his beef with Bad Boy (a feud which Snoop would distance himself from as the year progressed). The hook samples Randy Crawford’s stellar song of the same name. Featured is Prince Ital Joe of Marky Mark fame. Joe tragically lost his life in 2001 due to injuries sustained from a car crash. That means that 2 of 3 artists on this track died because of being in a car. The lesson: stay away from cars.

Snoop Doggy Dogg and The Convicts – Playin 4 Keeps (prod. by Warren G)

The Convicts, better known as Big Mike and Mr. 3-2, had a steady buzz in the early 90s thanks to their self-titled debut on Houston powerhouse label Rap-a-Lot Records. At that time, Snoop Doggy Dogg was building a little bit of a rep himself with his cameo on Dr Dre’s “Deep Cover.” However, it’s unknown as to whether this collaboration was intended for their projected sophomore release or for a Death Row Records project. Snoop timestamps the track as 1992 and mentions Death Row, this is fairly significant as it likely means it pre-dates The Chronic (which had a mid-December ’92 release date) making it one of a handful of early Death Row songs. It’s also one of the few collabos between Snoop and Warren G while both were on the label. A year later Warren grew frustrated with the lack of opportunities in Suge’s house and jumped ship to Def Jam to begin work on the classic Regulate…G Funk Era album.

Soopafly – I Dont Hang (Rmx)

While the legacy of Death Row’s core superstars lives on, it’s also important to remember the impact of those behind the music, such as (the aforementioned in this series) J-Flexx, Sean ‘Barney’ Thomas, Sam Sneed and in this case, Priest ‘Soopafly’ Brooks. Typically manning the keys on Daz and Dre’s productions, the Long Beach rapper slash beatmaker was a talented solo musician in his own right. “I Don’t Hang” was featured on the soundtrack to the 1996 Martin Lawrence movie A Thin Line Between Love and Hate. The remix is vastly superior and encapsulates everything dope about Soopafly – dope delivery over his own brand of bounced up G-funk.

Snoop Doggy Dogg ft Dr. Dre – The Next Episode

Initially slated as the follow-up to “Nuttin’ Like a G Thang,” this joint actually appeared on the tracklisting for the first pressing of Doggystyle. Mysteriously though, the song was nowhere to be found on the CD. Ever the perfectionist, Dr. Dre felt that the vibe didn’t match the rest of the album and since the artwork and final recordings were turned in at two separate times the mistake was fairly glaring. It’s a common misconception that this is the original version of 2001’s “The Next Episode.” In truth, they share only the song title. Why the recycle? On “Nuttin’ But a G Thang,” Snoop closes each verse with “so just chill… to the next episode.” Since this track was projected as the first post-Chronic rap collabo between the pair, it assumed the title. Due to its failure to make the final cut, and with no Snoop/Dre duet on the album, the title was passed on to Dre’s 2001 album. Much like the situation with “The Hoe Hopper”/”And Ya Don’t Stop,” step-brother Warren G reused the Les McCann & Eddie Harris “Go On And Cry” loop for “Runnin’ Wit No Breaks” on his debut. If it sounds like a recurring theme, it’s because part of Dre’s production process was accepting samples from Warren and Daz to base his soundscapes around. Therefore when one of them didn’t work out, Warren would scoop up the pieces and use it himself.

J-Flexx and Dr Dre – Street Scholars

Upon his arrival at Death Row, one of J-Flexx’s main tasks was to assist Sam Sneed in writing for his Street Scholars album. Set to feature the best talent that the label had to offer at the time including Snoop, Dre and Rage, the LP was also geared towards introducing a new crop of talent. There was Flexx, riding high off penning “Keep They Heads Ringin'” and “Natural Born Killaz,” producer Mel-Man and Queens lyricist Drama. Due to relations between Sneed and the label irreconcilably souring, the album was put on the backburner shelving some pretty good music in the process. Mel and Drama would depart alongside Dre with the latter ghostwriting Dre’s verse for Blackstreet’s “No Diggity” single. Mel-Man went on to become one of the prominent architects behind the 2001 sound before splitting from the legendary producer under acrimonious circumstances. The title track from the Street Scholars album is a fairly good indicator of the direction Dre was hoping to take Death Row musically. Synthed up G-Funk with a much darker groove than that of the playful Doggystyle.

Kurupt ft Jewell – I Dont Bang No Mo’

Unknown to some, Kurupt was actually developing a Death Row solo album on the sneak that was supposed to drop sometime in early 1997 after Snoop’s Doggfather. One of the tracks created for the LP was this little gem, featuring Jewell, the resident songstress of the label. Kurupt kicks a semi-story of a gangbanger trying to leave the lifestyle alone but who falls back into trap. The track interpolates Michael McDonald’s “I Keep Forgetting” break, most famously used by Warren G for his “Regulate” single. Unfortunately, when Kurupt left the label, none of the music left with him, hence his instantly forgettable Kuruption! debut.

Snoop Doggy Dogg and Lady of Rage – It’s On

One of the oldest unreleased joints from the Death Row vaults, this track was originally auditioned for the 1992 Deep Cover soundtrack. Produced by Dre, it features Rage and Snoop trading rhymes back and forth over a sparse bass line. One of the more notable lyrics is Snoop’s “Is it Rage, is it Dre?” which he would later donate to his producer for “Let Me Ride.” This was back when Rage was supposed to be the number 3 artist on the Row behind Dre and Snoop. After continuous shelvings, her debut Necessary Roughness hit stores in 1997 to little fanfare. By that time, Death Row was a sinking ship and any non-2Pac releases saw little to no promotion.

Kurupt – 40z and Bud

A nice little back-and-forth joint between Kurupt and a homie (Maybe Roscoe P?) over the Mtume “Juicy” break. Possibly just a warm-up joint on a session reel as it never received a release.

Snoop Doggy Dogg ft Mack 10, LBC Crew and Kurupt – Keep It Real

A cross-set collabo between the Rollin 20’s Crips and the Inglewood Family Bloods in the name of coastal unity over a dope Soopafly beat. I’d peg this one around late 1996/early 1997. I’m assuming it was after 2Pac was killed but before Biggie was murdered. On this version, Mack 10 spits “So hard we stickin’ up/ How could the east coast win when the west coast is cliquin’ up?” However, he used the same verse on the Snoop Doggy Dogg and Ice Cube collabo “Only in California” from his Fall 1997 Based on a True Story LP. On the latter, the incendiary lyric is removed as the twinned tragedies were calling for more peaceful music. For some reason, Death Row never did get that memo. The track was released on Death Row’s Snoop Doggy Dogg Greatest Hits in 2001.

Dr. Dre – My Life

Fresh out of jail after a 6 month bid, Dr Dre hit the studio to work on two new projects: a collaboration LP with Ice Cube and his sophomore album The Chronic 2 – Poppas Got a Brand New Funk. Notorious for taking his time on production, Dre’s stalling came into conflict with Suge Knight’s aforementioned policy of taking the best music available for the next album release. In this case, it would be 2Pac’s All Eyez On Me that benefited from songs that were supposed to be on Dre’s projects, namely the first single “California Love” and “U Can’t C Me.” This turned out to be the tipping point for Dre’s decision to depart the label as he soon contacted Jimmy Iovine and in alleged conversation told him “make me a deal and I’ll make you some hits.” Chronic 2 and Helter Skelter were dead in the water, leaving the impressive “My Life” perpetually unreleased. A musical autobiography, the track details Dre’s career from spinning at Eve’s After Dark to spearheading the West Coast revolution with Death Row. I’d hoped that WIDEawake Ent. would give us a remaster of this but that appears unlikely with the current turmoil at the label.

Snoop Doggy Dogg ft Nate Dogg – OG (Original)

Shortly before his defection to No Limit Records to make one of the wackest albums of all time, Snoop and Nate collaborated on this little gem over a Daz beat. One of Snoop’s superior performances lyrically, the second verse gives a great assertion on juvenile incarceration and the tribulations of single parenthood. Following Snoop’s departure, Daz remade the track and used it as a cut for his Death Row solo Retaliation, Revenge and Get Back, removing Snoop’s second verse and adding his own. The original version saw a release on The Lost Sessions Vol 1 compilation album in 1997.

J Flexx ft Danny Boy – Been Around The World

It’s unlikely you’ll find an artist more loyal to Death Row than Danny Boy. In interviews he commonly referred to Suge Knight as a father figure, but rumors circulated that the relationship was a little more perverse. When Suge was sentenced in 1997 to nine years in prison, Danny burst into tears and fled the courtroom. Throughout the years he continued to work on his material and finally had his solo debut released under the Death Row banner in April 2010 with It’s About Time. This collabo with J-Flexx over one of Flexx’s signature light west coast vibe is reminiscent of his career throughout the 90s – melodic hooks with harmonized ad-libs. Still, he’ll always have this booty call anthem.

Snoop Doggy Dogg – Fallin’ Asleep On Death Row

A promotional freestyle in the same vein as “Puffin’ on blunts…” but without the 12″ release. Snoop’s eager flow over a Dre beat is a fitting close for this compilation and a microcosmic reminder of the great music that was being made during the height of the Death Row era from 1992-1997.

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