Crooked I - Hood Star

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Over seven years since he too left Death Row, the label's new ownership releases Hood Star, a compilation of tracks from the nearly four albums that the Slaughterhouse emcee reportedly plugged away at, signed to the bad boys of Beverly Hills.

When Snoop Dogg was released from his Death Row Records contract in late 1997, things for the iconic label looked dismal. Row co-founder/CEO Suge Knight was in jail, 2Pac had been murdered, and Dr. Dre, Kurupt – and later Daz Dillinger had all left the infamous imprint. As beef tracks and copycat rappers drove the label into the early ‘00s, there was only one bright spot: Crooked I. In the era that watched Eminem transcend from backpack emcee to superstar, Long Beach’s gangsta-lyricist was a proper fit for a label that countered the east coast lyricism of the early ‘90s with Kurupt, RBX and Snoop. The label’s legal woes and reluctant push-backs prevented Crooked I from ever releasing his Say Hi To The Bad Guy album, despite several profiled singles and appearances. Over seven years since he too left Death Row, the label’s new ownership releases Hood Star, a compilation of tracks from the nearly four albums that the Slaughterhouse emcee reportedly plugged away at, signed to the bad boys of Beverly Hills.

Hood Star, like many of the Death Row “vault” releases in the last year, can be confusing. Although it’s presumed this sequencing and arrangement was never intended to be an album as it stands, WIDE Awake/Death Row’s present project managers do a bang-up job hiding those qualities. “Live At Tha Row” is one of the album’s stand-outs. The track uses live instrumentation courtesy of Bizzy Bone producer Darren Vegas, Boo-Ya T.R.I.B.E.’s Monsta O and longtime Dr. Dre session percussionist Carl “Butch” Small. With a dynamic jam-session bassline, Crooked I tears through the groove with pungent bars that have both social commentary and punchlines. The minute the emcee mentions Roger & Zapp, the musicians break into a “More Bounce To The Ounce” interpolation that plays into Low Profile’s classic, “Pay Ya Dues.” This is sophisticated music, and the kind of offerings that would have made Crooked a star 10 years before Twitter and Slaughterhouse. Another gem within Hood Star is “Me and My Dogg.” Perhaps titled as a veiled address to Snoop or Tha Pound (whom were adversaries to Crooked during his Row tenure), the song is actually a dedication to a fallen comrade, Country Al. Joined by the same crooning trifecta that 2Pac used, K-Ci, Jojo and Danny Boy pay homage to a slain homie, as Crooked’s imagery recounts their happier times and final conversation. Although not a radio hit, the tune does show the emcee’s depth beyond aggressive battle deliveries and lyrical show-outs.

Those glimpses of glory are more the exception than the rule on Hood Star. Crooked I remains a master at his craft throughout the songs, but uninspired guest-work from label-mates Eastwood, Spider Loc and Ray J do little to enhance the art. Moreover, concepts like “Cali Luv III” – a weak amendment to the two classic mixes of 2Pac and Dr. Dre’s timepiece feel cheap, and more Suge Knight’s idea than any reasonable artist. Based on these selections, Crooked I did not appear to know what to say to the masses in that position. Tracks vary from championing his label and coast to acknowledging haters and perceived enemies, to just being a real or “hood” artist in an era where the early ‘90s west coast stars were portrayed with their mansions. In any event, Crooked I’s post-Row work has revealed a much more multi-dimensional emcee than seen within the pressure and confines or saving a sinking ship.

Hood Star’s enduring truth is nothing new: Crooked I is among the most talented and interesting lyricists in Hip Hop. As today we find him working with some of today’s best, Hood Star shows that he fit in just as well alongside Above The Law’s Big Hutch, Boo-Ya T.R.I.B.E., Juvenile and Too Short. Against all odds, Death Row had high hopes for the LBC veteran. Sadly, just like a sports season ended by strike, Rap fans will never know if Crooked I could have brought Tha Row its next pennant.


  • josh

    pretty dope mixtapes are batter


    GOOGOO24's mother is a slut

  • Tdotfromdabronx

    Death Row Crooked sucks I like the new Crooked...


    crooked i please change your name . if are thinking of global success then use your real name . A CROOKED I IS A COCK/DICK !!!



  • yeayea

    When a brand new, offical crooked album comes out I'll be excited

  • Just a man

    While I love Crooked I, and I have nothing but love for the music that comes from the west I have to say I was dissapointed by this album. This man represents well but this sounds more like a bunch of bonus tracks and cut offs put together. With that said it is better then alot of albums that are coming out but at the same time you know this won't get alot of playback from me. When I first copped this I bumped it for a couple of days and since then I have barely grazed this album. I would recomend copping this album but don't get over excited at the thought of this Crooked I joint. It's not weak but it's swaying that way when you compare it to everything else he has produced for us sometimes un graitfull fans. Lyrics - 3.5/5 Beats - 4/5 Creativity - 2/5 Overall - 3/5

  • 305ilovemia

    No Image No Gimmicks Just Banging Ass Music I Love M I A Music and Ent Presents $WonDough$ Raw and Uncut

  • 305ilovemia I Love M I A Music And Ent. Presents $WonDough$ No Image No Gimmicks Just Banging Ass Music Raw and Uncut

  • Money Talks 818

    this album is str8 fire.

  • Bonkeira

    This things pretty good. Then again him and joe buddens aint really my favs in slaughter house. For the most part, i like the old Gfunk sound to it. Plus his rhymin's getting better since he got with slaughter.

  • 305ilovemia I Love M I A Music And Ent. Presents $WonDough$ No Image No Gimmicks Just Banging Ass Music Raw and Uncut

  • 305ilovemia

    I Love M I A Music And Ent. Presents $WonDough$ No Image No Gimmicks Just Banging Ass Music Raw and Uncut

  • iBar

    Come to my page to find out who Eminem is talking about on his new Recovery album. Listen to "!" and find out now!!

  • dubb sizzle

    Crooked I is a beast no doubt. He kills it on every track. But what saves or sinks a song is the production. And I'm sorry but death row was done after Dre left. Shit got wack.

  • douchington

    This reviewer doesn't know what he saying....when was eminem ever a backpack rapper?

    • sean w

      ayo douchington...for that comment, take a shot of Pine Sol and wash it down with Clorox. See if you regain any of your senses.

    • sicoyall



      soundbombing II.. buy the album.. listen.. eminem was crushing emcees when he first came in the game with a backpack and hat pulled down.. right along side with mosdef and talibkweli.. em earned his respect from the gutter, the underground circuit and at the time, Rawkus had the underground raw on lock

    • C-Arson

      do your damn homework before commenting.

    • 89er

      u musta not heard his infinite project before he signed

  • Drum Machine

    if this was 2001 then it'd be a 4.5 but today its dated and not much more than a 3 at best

  • papa gizzle

    the fact that Crooked himself says half of these songs were CUT from the final album, this is a disapointing release by Wide Awake. still has some raw-ass tracks that only Crooked can come up with (Fuck Em, Live At the Row, Suge's West Coast, I'm So Crooked etc.) that make it worth the listen. Crooked himself is against this release and gets absolutely no money from it so I wouldn't recommend buying it.

  • bkknightz

    Hood Star is a great add on to a collection. It shows Crook at his most raw and pure. I'm so glad this was released.

  • tooEasy

    this shit is garbonzo...and that's the album suge was calling a classic back in 2002? ah! crooked i is a sore loser

  • RIP_Proof&Dilla

    I love crooked I album is juts alright for his talent. Mostly a result of poor production and hooks not his lyrics

  • Vocab

    the production and songwriting on this shit just kills the whole vibe Crooked is trying to create. This probably would have been better off locked int he vaults to be honest


    1 cuz this nigga doesnt know how to get a spell check before getting SLAUGTER tatted on his forearm

  • sheshbesh

    I like Crooked I, but the beats on this album are so weak that his lyricism could barely salvage them. I want a release straight from Crook himself, not some retarded compilation.

  • ---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

    bitch im going in

  • BAZOOKA DICK ))==================0

    this album was released from death rows vault ,bunch of old songs from when he was signed to the row, crooked said in a freestyle not support it and just download it


    You can tell why this album got shelved, anemic production that is only passable from a West Coast perspective

  • C-Arson

    This isn't by any means classic, Damn Crooked I you got good fans! I'm one of them but this is obviously an old shelved album. Why it wasn't released? I don't know its better than Kurupts album against the grain. Beats are kinda corny but this would of been better if released a few years back.

  • Kay W

    big disapointement , not hating on crooked I , but he can do allot better

  • 305ilovemia

  • SutterKane

    I know Crooked I is against this album even existing, which in a way is a relief because when the artist himself tells you not to buy it it doesnt make me feel as bad, but its a damn shame Suge ole Bald headed fat ass couldnt get this album into stores when he made it, because the record is great lyrically, production is hit or miss but Crooked's flow and lyricism make even the mediocre tracks rewind-worthy Goin straight into the Ipod, spend my money on Em in a few days, and Rhymefest If I can find it(Best Buy said they aint even have it on their schedule, SMH)

    • jayron

      I agree, this is strong lyrically. Production a bit shaky on a few tracks, but overall crooked proves why he's among the best.

  • SoCal Music Co

    This is the best west coast album in years and it is dope to hear.

  • love for back in the day

    classic album!

  • Negro withan Ego - (NWE)

    damn, feel kind of bad that crooked didn't get the shine he may have deserved. he still pretty sick, but you can tell he ain't quite as smooth at flowing his rhymes as he used to be

  • trly yrz

    I miss Death Row, when Suge was there. Shit was better than reality televison. I dunno what the fuck Universal's problem is, Crooked I getting more stale with them now than he was with Suge.

  • j-ren

    u r right ????????? he is real hiphop i am glad some one knows what real hiphop is forget about pop stars he is the truth 4 real i dont get y people think lil wayne is the best rapper i makes no sense crooked eye will destroy him for real

  • ?????????

    he is real hiphop fuck what u know about lil wayne or drake he is real hiphop not pop shit so no one better hate