Posted by Robert
Rap News Network
1/12/2004 4:45:56 PM
Tags and topics realted to this article include Ice-T and Ice Cube.
Kool G Rap (born Nathaniel Wilson) - his lisp is still crisp.
Possessing one of the most distinctive voices in hip-hop, he blazed a trail for several rappers to follow, despite being relatively unknown by mainstream standards.
He's kind of like the Iggy Pop of the hip-hop world - he never sold a tremendous amount of records, but he maintains a cult following that won't quit, while scores of newcomers point to him as an influence.
Boston-based indie Land-speed Records has released a compilation of his signature cuts, which were a key part of the so-called "Golden Age" of hip-hop music (circa 1986-1993).
The 2-disc collection starts off in the mid-1980's, back when the Marley Marl-led Juice Crew was among the early hip-hop posses to achieve prominence, being signed to Prism Records, which eventually would become Cold Chillin'. Shortly afterward, label head Ty Williams secured a distribution deal with Warner Bros.
"I'm Fly" and "It's a Demo" are sparse early tracks which makes listeners focus even more on Kool G's lyrics. At this time, he was somewhere between LL Cool J and Rakim, spouting whimsical braggadocio with occasional inflections of sober battle-ready aggression. His technique would be fine-tuned on his first album, "Road to the Riches," featuring the title cut "Dope Car" (sampling Gary Numan), "Poison" and "Men at Work." Pioneering rap producer Marley Marl's 808-driven funk production is at its best here.
On his second LP, "Wanted Dead or Alive," Kool G's thematic flow started becoming more gangster-driven. By 1990, NWA had opened the floodgates for gangster rap tales, and "Riches" didn't exactly burn up the charts; maybe Kool G felt he had nothing to lose. "Streets of New York" was a brief urban radio hit, with a saxophone riff that was ahead of its time.
Other standout cuts were "Erace Racism" and "Talk Like Sex." Most of the production on this album was handled by Large Professor, Eric B and Kool G himself. "Live and Let Die" would be delayed by several months in 1992 because of Ice T's "Cop Killer" scandal; Cold Chillin' would lose their distribution deal with Warner Bros. in the aftermath.
The album was released independently. Produced mostly by Ice Cube-affiliate, Sir Jinx, the album was G-funk fueled, with even more relentless gangster tales spit by Kool G, who recorded most of the album in Los Angeles and was in town during the turbulent riots. "Ill Street Blues," the lead single, was handled by the Trackmasters, who would go on to make major pop hits for LL Cool J, Will Smith and Jennifer Lopez.
Many of today's gritty rap wordsmiths, like Jay-Z, Nas and Fat Joe owe something of a debt to Kool G Rap. He went on to record albums for other labels, including Epic/Sony, his own Ill Street/K-Tel imprint and Rawkus (home to Mos Def and Talib Kweli). He is currently working on his comeback.
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