Kool G Rap


(Flow 10, Lyrics 10, Distinctiveness/Originality 9.5, Charisma 5, Consistency 8, Longevity 10, Punchlines 9, Subject Matter 6.5, Quality 9, Influence 10)

I have a couple confessions on this entry.

When we first put this list together, when we first had the idea and started talking about it, the first thing I wanted to do was go write a column on Kool G Rap. This may make you think I was a G Rap fan from back in the day, but I have a weird hip-hop background. I never heard of him until five or so years ago, and that’s mostly because of the relentless promotion of R.A. the Rugged Man who I HAD heard of, because I was a huge Rawkus fan.

Listening to G Rap is like taking a punch. He’s relentless, and the longer he goes on, the better he gets. Rakim gets a lot of credit for changing the way everyone after him did their flow. G Rap changed the way everyone did everything. By his emphasis on breaking language down to the syllables and then matching them, he influenced pretty much everyone we acknowledge as great: BIG, Nas, Jay, Pac, Raekwon, Eminem, Pun… the list goes on as long as you can name names. (To his credit, he always acknowledges inspiration from rapper Silver Fox)

Competitiveness is what drives the Queens MC to be great, and it keeps him relevant far longer than pretty much any Golden Age rapper. In theory, he passed the torch to Big L and Nas with his duets but when you hear verses like this:

“Yo, from the spot to the cellblocks
Hot as hell blocks where shells pop
Where they sell rock to cop the SL drop
Hood b*tches in nail shops; no good snitches that tell cops
People find bodies in lobbies, you can smell shots
Niggaz turn stale on the Rock until they bail drop
New York livin, got a nigga four-fifth limpin
Send you as a gift to the mortician if you forfeit livin
– my fortune is forbidden
I say it one time before spittin then I leave your forehead drippin
I laid low then came back for more bread grippin
More thread flippin
More head from chickens, it’s time to turn the ape loose
Bust out the cage and let the gauge loose
Blow the feathers out of your Northface goose
It’s G. Rap comin back with a click of brave troops
Have y’all niggaz runnin for homebase like Babe Ruth
Have you holdin holes in your body like you play flute
Lay you down til you get found up in the sprayed Coupe
Prepare for the takeover – give you the face makeover
the seedier row and sheet draped over
Be found on the block with the street taped over
or comin out of deep coma, your speech made slower
Corona Queens shakedown; I’m comin with the nickel-plate pound
to trade rounds with all you fake clowns get down in the unsafe town
Lacin it down, black guerilla fams kid we takin the crown”

-you realize that he’s not giving up any crown.

As a legend, it’s hard to think about the opportunities that have been missed with the Genius of Rap, an aborted session with the Neptunes, a G-Unit deal that never came together, a record deal that got sucked into an imploding Rawkus Records. (On a smaller scale, Biz Markie’s “Vapors” beat was originally earmarked for G Rap. Now that’s a weird thought.)

G Rap also pioneered mafioso/crime rap for the East Coast. Whereas Ice Cube and Ice T were doing it on the West Coast, and Scarface was holding down the South, the East Coast didn’t have anyone doing that kind of thing. That got solved pretty quickly, because G Rap applied his considerable storytelling skills to the subject. It is interesting to note that he distinguishes his generation’s crime rap from the current product. While both have their share of braggadocio, the Golden Age rappers sought to reveal truth as well. And G Rap puts it as honestly as I’ve ever seen it:

“They’re] talking that gangsta life but ain’t really – Let me tell you something, man, there’s no way you can be a gangsta and rap at the same time. You can’t have your feet in both worlds. It’s impossible. ‘Cause a gangster gotta be on the low. And a rapper has to be in the open. So it’s like, the two contradict each other. So anybody talking like, “Yo, I’ma real gangsta and I bust my guns,” you ain’t – yeah, you might bust your guns, but we’ll be reading about you soon… Or we’ll be hearing about you, “Oh, he gotta do time now.” Or, “Yo, he got killed. They killed that dude, that Rap nigga.” ‘Cause that’s what being a real gangsta is.”
There only small things that kept him from being first on the list. As the Godfather of Gutter music, he’s not very charismatic, and his focus on urban life limits the scope of his subject matter. But make no mistake; Kool G Rap is one of hip-hop’s immortals.

“Yo I come in the form of danger lurkin
Blastin the mad streets and merkin
Shot at strangers from out the Ranges and Suburbans
Curtains for anybody perpin
Leave in a hearse for certain
Blood on the curb and bandages like turbans
We roll a durbin
All in this dirt, puffin the herb an’
we bring the verbs in
Double action’s loaded with Germans
Area’s urban, block’s hot where we be swervin
Gun fights strike like a serpent
People nerves jerkin
Lay down any person
strictly for just talkin rehearsin
The skills remain tight as Holy Mary the Virgin
Slowly carry the burden
so we varied the s*it you heard an’
hit you with the different methods and versions;
we simply,
let bullets rip until the clip is empty
Get laid in your tracks as if you was ??
Hit you like Jack Dempsey
The mac packin MC, with gats clappin like an M.P.
Over your friendly wimpy, frame like an M.D.
Blow you until your block’s windy
Be on short of a shot frenzy
My glocks don’t stop til the cops hem me
Blow holy hollow tops in me
Hazardous sh*t – guns is accurate
Sendin niggaz to meet the King of Nazareth
Playin me close has a risk
I bash clicks like they was massacres
Blast the tear gas, thinkin I’m pacifist
That’s the fifth, one last kiss before your ash is missed
These bastards is gettin clapped by the strap at the wrist”