Kool G Rap is a legend in the hip-hop world. From “It’s A Demo” to his latest project “Click Of Respect”, Kool G Rap has never compromised his music. His quick fire delivery, signature lisp, mumbling voice, and hardcore rhymes have made him the godfather of hardcore hip-hop music. All of the hardcore emcees you look up to today mention Kool G Rap as their major influence. Everyone from Prodigy of Mobb Deep to Styles of The Lox pay homage to the legendary emcee.
Hailing from Queens, NY, Kool G Rap and DJ Polo made classic after classic including “It’s A Demo”, “Streets Of New York”, “Talk Like Sex”, and “Road To Riches”. His tales of the street were gritty and realistic. There was no sugar coating Kool G Rap’s music. Eventually, DJ Polo and G Rap parted ways. Kool G Rap went from label to label, releasing solo album after album. “4,5,6” introduced other emcees like Nas on “Fast Life” and MF Grimm on “Take Em To War” and “Money On The Brain”. His LP “Roots Of Evil” (which mimicked the movie poster for “Scarface” on the LP cover) was a cinematic album filled with tales of fast life, mafia ties, sexy women, and money.
During this time, Kool G Rap has been making collaborations with hardcore hip-hop groups. He stole the show on M.O.P.’s “Stick To Ya Guns” (a very hard song to steal). He helped remake “Riker’s Island” with Noreaga on “40 Island”. He worked with The Neptunes on Half-A-Mill’s “Thug Ones” (which also featured Noreaga). He also worked with Screwball, Canibus, and Jedi Mind Tricks.
The Queens legend never stopped working. When Rawkus Records came along and signed G Rap, many fans rejoiced and expected “The Giancana Story” to be his masterpiece. The potential was limitless. At the time, Rawkus released records like “Black Star” by Mos Def & Talib Kweli, “Internal Affairs” by Pharoahe Monch, and the Soundbombing series. After label problems, the record never came out on Rawkus.
Koch Records picked it up and distributed “The Giancana Story” years later with a different tracklisting. The much loved Premier-produced track “First N*gga” (that floated around on the Internet) was nowhere to be found. Kool G Rap was not happy with the outcome.
Fast-forward to 2003, Kool G Rap and his wife, Ma Barker, came together with his crew, 5 Family, to make the “Click Of Respect” album on his own label, Igloo Entertainment. Along with Blaze The World, Igloo Entertainment released “Click Of Respect” with production by C.O.S., Buckwild, D.R. Period and Digga. It is a gritty, hardcore album of family values, guns, thugged out romance, and money. During a NYC radio interview, Jay-Z was asked what his favorite album of the year was and he responded that the new Kool G Rap’s “Click of Respect” album was his favorite. On a cold evening, I had the honor to talk to the legendary Kool G Rap about relationships, movies, hip-hop, old school, production, Rawkus Records, money, and more. Kool G Rap is the godfather of hardcore hip-hop. Respect the Don.
MVRemix: What goes on?
Kool G Rap: Nothing much, keeping busy. That’s all. I’m trying to keep busy. I’m doing small work in the studio and sh*t like that.
MVRemix: Your new album is called ‘Click Of Respect’. Tell us about it? Who’s producing it? Who is in it?
Kool G Rap: It’s a compilation album from my label, Igloo Entertainment. It just happened to turn out to be more of a clique album than a compilation album. It’s really a compilation album.
MVRemix: Do you have a favorite song on the ‘Click Of Respect’ LP?
Kool G Rap: Ah, man, I got a few. I like the title track. ‘Click Of Respect’ is dope. ‘Pimped Out’, ‘Breaker Breaker’. ‘Blackin Out’ and ‘Air You Out’ along with ‘Sick Wit It’.
MVRemix: How and why did you get involved with Blaze The World Entertainment?
Kool G Rap: We met through a mutual friend at the time. He wanted to do something with G Rap. That was the situation I gave him. I told him that I didn’t want to do a Kool G Rap solo project but we could do a compilation album that consists of me and the artists on Igloo Entertainment.
MVRemix: What is the difference between Click Of Respect and 5 Family?
Kool G Rap: Click Of Respect is just a title of the album or song while 5 Family is the name of the group itself.
MVRemix: Who is in the Click of Respect?
Kool G Rap: Ma Barker is my wife. 40 Cal Hammerz is her brother. My man, Glory Warz is her cousin. It just came together from being around family.
MVRemix: Ma Barker is your wife. How did you two meet? How long have you two been together?
Kool G Rap: We’ve been together like 4 years now. We met through a mutual friend too. She was a female rapper coming up and I was looking for a female rapper. My manager at the time told me about her. I heard her on a tape with some other cat. She was rapping with someone else I knew, named Papoos. We were peoples. We met up and she played more of her stuff for me. I was blown away by her material.
MVRemix: What is the key to a successful relationship when both of you are in the music industry?
Kool G Rap: We are just real tight. It is not just a husband and wife relationship. We are best friends too. I think that is the key to a successful relationship. Both people have to be best friends too. It can’t be just a man and a woman thing. It has to be more than that. We hang out together and everything. I’m not like, ‘I’m gonna go hang out with my peoples’. She does not say sh*t like ‘I’m going to hang out with my girls’. You know what I’m saying? We do everything together. I can do anything with her. Nobody’s minds are wandering somewhere. That’s the key to any kind of relationship.
MVRemix: You have a newcomer producer called C.O.S. doing most of the production work on the new album. Who is he? How did you meet him and why did he do most of the work?
Kool G Rap: C.O.S. and I met about 3 years ago. I was in Sony Studios recording ‘The Giancana Story’ for Rawkus Records and he was in there doing intern stuff. He gave Ma Barker a production CD. When we got home, we played it and we loved the tracks. That’s how C.O.S. came on board and became one of our producers.
MVRemix: As an emcee, who were some of your major influences?
Kool G Rap: I’m from a whole other era, as far as being inspired by rappers. The cats that inspired G Rap are Melle Mel, Kool Moe Dee, Silver Fox, Grandmaster Caz. They are the dudes who inspired me when I was a young dude, just starting to rhyme, putting my sh*t together and wanting to get out there.
MVRemix: You have been in the hip-hop world for a very long time. You are a legend. What would you say is the key to maintaining your career for so long?
Kool G Rap: Keeping the love for it. If you keep the love for what you do, you stay competitive at it. I think being competitive can bring the best out of you. In my case, it brings the best out of me lyrically. It keeps G Rap going and a recognizable force.
MVRemix: What is going on with DJ Polo?
Kool G Rap: I haven’t spoken to Polo in a long time. Me and Polo don’t talk and all that. I haven’t seen him for years. We’re cool. There ain’t any animosity or anything.
MVRemix: How did you eventually get into the record industry and record the single ‘It’s A Demo’?
Kool G Rap: A friend of mine, Eric B, came out with a real hot single called ‘Eric B For President’ with Rakim. I was cool with Eric B’s brother. Since I was cool with his brother, I got to meet Eric. Then, me and Eric B became cool. Eric plugged me in with Polo, trying to put me on, because he thought I was a good rapper. Polo was tight with Marley Marl and brought me to Marley Marl’s house. They used to go to high school together or something like that. We went to Marley Marl’s house one night and recorded a song. It turned out to be our first single ‘It’s A Demo’.
MVRemix: You have seen the hip-hop world change drastically. What is the major difference between then and now?
Kool G Rap: I’ve seen it change drastically, man. Then, it was just about hip-hop music. It wasn’t so political or geared towards a certain audience. There was not a specific direction to receive radio airplay or play from DJs. Hip-hop was not brand new but it was very new. It’s uprising was new. People all over supported hip-hop because they loved it, period. Now you have cats who are not doing it because they love it. They are doing it because they see all of that other sh*t that comes along with being successful in the hip-hop industry, as far as the money and the materialistic stuff. They see the cars, the crib, the women, and the touring. To some degree, even earlier rappers did it for that too. A lot of the stuff people are getting now was not even conceivable to n*ggas back in the day. Clothing lines and movies? That kind of sh*t was not conceivable to a lot of cats who started this sh*t and laid the foundation for it.
MVRemix: Do you go into the studio with pre-written rhymes and themes or do you hear the beat first and write then and there?
Kool G Rap: I like to hear the music first because I like to tailor make my sh*t around the production.
MVRemix: In one phrase or sentence, how would you describe growing up in Queens?
Kool G Rap: An experience that shaped and molded G Rap as a person, intellectually and character-wise.
MVRemix: What emcee/group would you like to collaborate with in the future?
Kool G Rap: There may be a couple who I respect what they do lyrically. One of them is Jigga, Jay-Z. Jigga would be at the top of my list.
MVRemix: Actually, I am seriously surprised you and Jay-Z never worked together.
Kool G Rap: No doubt. I am surprised too.
MVRemix: The work you did with Mobb Deep was incredible. ‘The Realest’ from ‘Murda Muzik’ is a classic track. ‘Where Ya At’ from ‘The Giancana Story’ was cool too.
Kool G Rap: Yeah, I always loved Prodigy.
MVRemix: What producer would you like to collaborate with in the future?
Kool G Rap: I would love to get something from Kanye West and Just Blaze. To me, they do my kind of tracks. They lay down some real hard sh*t.
MVRemix: What happened with Rawkus?
Kool G Rap: Man, Rawkus just fell apart. I think they started out good when they were doing what they were doing at first. They were putting out singles and catering to authentic hip-hop. I think once they got a lot of money and a big situation, they went crazy with it. They didn’t really know what they were doing over there. Rawkus did not know what they were doing. They did not take steps to acquire respect from the industry. A lot of people, in turn, did not respect Rawkus Records towards the end.
MVRemix: Your last solo LP ‘The Giancana Story’ was pushed back a couple of times. The songs were even changed too. At first, Rawkus was going to put it out but then, Koch Entertainment released it. Were you happy with the end result?
Kool G Rap: Definitely not! No! I recorded it to be promoted and marketed in a major fashion. That didn’t happen! If it went through with Rawkus, there would have been Kool G Rap sh*t everywhere! The promotion and marketing campaign would have been tremendous. Rawkus was not a label that was into sticking by who they signed. They signed me as an artist for a certain reason but when it came time to put out material, they wanted me to become a different artist. A lot of labels do that. People want a Ja Rule record or whoever is hot. 50 Cent came out muscular so they wanted The Last Emperor to get all muscular and show off his chest. This is the sh*t I’m talking about. Whoever is out and hot at the time, they hop on their d*ck. This is what they expect from their artists. They couldn’t tell me sh*t like that! Nobody can tell me to go to some f*cking gym and tighten up my abs! They knew they couldn’t deal with G Rap like that. They could tell other artists what to do but not me. This is where me and Rawkus bumped heads. I’m a grown *ss f*cking n*gga and can’t 2 young f*cking punks tell me what to do!
MVRemix: You are the godfather of gangsta rap. What do you think of the contemporary gangsta rappers?
Kool G Rap: When I did what I did, it was because I soaked it up growing up in Corona Queens. That was what I absorbed and what I was around. I’m not saying cats aren’t from around that. Cats are from some real wild sh*t. The reason why I rap the way I rap was because of that. It was not because I heard someone else doing it. Now, I think it just became a trend so much that people are doing it because it is the thing to do.
MVRemix: Half-A-Mill recently was shot and killed. Do you have any comments?
Kool G Rap: I did a record with him. ‘Thug Ones’, produced by The Neptunes with Noreaga. I heard he passed away. We were cool. I didn’t know him that well. When he was doing his album, he just had a respect and love for G Rap. He wanted me to do a feature on his album and I was glad to do that, as with any other young rappers coming up. When they pay homage like Half-A-Mill did, I will be more than honored to work with them.
MVRemix: You worked with many contemporary big name emcees like Noreaga, Mobb Deep, M.O.P. and more. What collaboration are you most proud of?
Kool G Rap: Wow! That’s a good question. I really did like the collaboration with Mobb Deep. I liked that song ‘The Realest’ a lot. Mobb Deep is one of my favorite groups. Working with Mobb Deep was like a honor for me as well. I was really feeling their music. I loved that one and the one with Big Pun. I thought Big Pun was an incredible rapper.
MVRemix: Since you are older in the hip-hop world (even though you are still very young), do people in the hip-hop world discriminate you for being an older cat?
Kool G Rap: I don’t get it to my face. (Laughs). I don’t know if it a fear factor or if people think that I am older. Kool G Rap is 35 years old. Some people may get it twisted and think that G Rap is pushing 40. Think about it, I’m not the only 35-year-old rapper in the game. There are a lot of n*ggas in their 30s. As a matter of fact, the top dogs of the game are not young n*ggas! Dr. Dre, Snoop, Jay-Z and LL Cool J are not young *ss n*ggas.
MVRemix: What was the last incident of racism that you encountered?
Kool G Rap: Personally, I don’t know. There’s nothing that really stands out. In my case, it was never really obvious. You can just tell when some people act funny whether it is a waitress at a restaurant or something. It was always small sh*t like that. There was nothing outright blatant.
MVRemix: Where were you on Sept. 11th terrorist attack? How did you deal with it? How do you think it has affected or will affect hip-hop?
Kool G Rap: I just left that morning, coming from the studio. My manager called me and was like, ‘Yo dog! You looking at the news?’ I was like, ‘No, what happened?’ He said, ‘N*gga! There’s a f*cking attack on us, kid!’ I think he thought that there was a war going on. World War III. As for hip-hop, it happened, it slowed down everything a lot.
MVRemix: What LP or CD has been in your turntable or your CD player recently?
Kool G Rap: To be honest with you, I haven’t been listening to anything new recently. I have been in my movie mode lately.
MVRemix: What are some of your favorite movies?
Kool G Rap: Of course there is ‘Scarface’ and ‘The Godfather’ movies but I haven’t been watching those recently. The last ‘Matrix Revolutions’ was hot. They made that sh*t official. I saw that remake of ‘Texas Chainsaw Massacre’. That was alright too. You know what, I don’t think it can touch the original one because of the time the first one came out. Back then, we were younger and horror movies had more of an affect on us. ‘The Exorcist’ scared the sh*t out of me when I was a young buck. Now, I can still look at ‘The Exorcist’ and think to myself ‘This is an ill movie’ but it is not going to scare me. When I was a young kid, that sh*t scared the sh*t out of me.”
MVRemix: Godfather Part I or Godfather Part II?
Kool G Rap: I love them both to death but I would have to say ‘Godfather Part I’. That one has Sonny in it, word!
MVRemix: Word association time. I’m going to say a name of a group/emcee and you say the first word that pops in your head. So, if I say ‘Chuck D’, you may say ‘Revolution’. If I said ‘Flavor Flav’, you may say ‘Crack’ Okay?
Kool G Rap:
Kool G Rap: Underground.
MVRemix: Snoop Dogg.
Kool G Rap: Pimp.
Kool G Rap: Phenomenal.
MVRemix: C Rayz Walz.
Kool G Rap: Who the f*ck is that?
Kool G Rap: Incredible.
Kool G Rap: Alternative.
Kool G Rap: Hardcore.
MVRemix: What are some major misconceptions that you think people have of you?
Kool G Rap: I think a lot of people think that I am more powerful than I really am. I get that a lot. People say, ‘Do this!’ or ‘Do that!’ like I can just do anything. Since people think that because the name Kool G Rap is legendary, they think that I have a lot of power to do tons of sh*t. They think I can just call up Def Jam and say, ‘Def Jam, I want to make a label with y’all!’ (Laughs). Not many people have that misconception but a lot of people I come across in my small circle think I have the power to do wonders.
MVRemix: What is your favorite part of your live show? How has it evolved?
Kool G Rap: I was never really a person who did a lot of live performances but I feel that my live show has gotten better with age. It is better now than when I first began performing and putting out records.
MVRemix: What is the biggest mistake you made in your career?
Kool G Rap: Signing with Cold Chillin (laughs).
MVRemix: What happened with Cold Chillin records?
Kool G Rap: Cold Chillin’ Records just went under. They got to a point where they got real comfortable and were satisfied with little sh*t instead of trying to be a label that was on top of the industry. The cats from Cold Chillin’ weren’t doing bad.
MVRemix: Do you want to be buried or cremated?
Kool G Rap: Probably, buried. I don’t think it makes too much of a difference. It won’t be me no more.
MVRemix: What advice would you give to an up and coming emcee?
Kool G Rap: Do your thing. Stack your chips. Make investments in other things.
MVRemix: What other investments do you have?
Kool G Rap: I’m just starting to invest my money in other things. I never had a person to teach me what I should do so, I had to find out on my own. A lot of different things came with age. It’s not just the intelligence of investing the money but how you can invest it and that you don’t have to be a millionaire to do certain things. I wasn’t educated on certain things like I am educated now. Now, I am starting to put investments in other things.
MVRemix: You have been through many different managers and labels. Why do you think that has happened?
Kool G Rap: I was never the type of person to chase around the hot manager and sh*t like that. I would try to get somebody who had a drive to do it but, they didn’t quite cut it.
MVRemix: What is your favorite solo album, from your collection?
Kool G Rap: I think I may have to go with ‘Roots Of Evil’. A lot of people didn’t take to the tracks but I had more fun doing that record than any other record because on that record, I just did all out G Rap. I didn’t try to do a whole bunch of songs for radio or anything.”
MVRemix: You worked with Buckwild from D.I.T.C. a couple of times. He produced ‘Fast Life’ with Nas from ‘4,5,6’ and did a track on the ‘Click Of Respect’ album too. How did you hook up with him and what was it like working with him?
Kool G Rap: Ah, man. Me and Buck just linked a long, long time ago. When I was with Epic, during the ‘4,5,6’ album, he sent some tracks to the A&R up there for me. She was a lady by the name of Wanda Booth. We exchanged numbers and began talking on the phone. I had a little 16-track studio in my house. He hit me with tracks that I was feeling a lot. We did the songs ‘Fast Life’ and ‘Blowing Up In The World’.
MVRemix: You worked with DJ Premier on a song that was supposed to be on the Rawkus album but didn’t make it. What happened? What was it like working with Premier?
Kool G Rap: We did one cut. We didn’t even work together. Rawkus jumps on people’s d*cks so much. They were sucking Premo’s d*ck so much that they let him do a track for G Rap without G Rap even being there. They sent em the track. That’s the same sh*t they did with the Snoop record. Snoop didn’t even know he had a record with G Rap. He did the record for Hi-Tek. Rawkus took the record from Hi-Tek’s album and wanted me to rap over it. Snoop and Devin The Dude were on it. I was against doing it but I didn’t want to look like a hard artist to work with. Some things I tried to do in their favor as well as stand firm in other areas. This was one of the times that I bent in their direction.
MVRemix: What is your next solo LP going to be like?
Kool G Rap: I don’t have an idea right now. I don’t know what label it will come out.
MVRemix: Any final words for the people who will be reading this?
Kool G Rap: Look out for the Ma Barker album coming out soon! We don’t have a date yet but the Ma Barker album will be coming out soon! Beautiful, man, beautiful! That sounds gangsta to me!