Thursday, November 02, 2006

Artist Profile: Kool G Rap & DJ Polo


Some say James Brown was the godfather of soul, George Clinton was the godfather of funk... and some say Kool G Rap was the godfather of gangster rap.

Raised in Queens NY, Kool G Rap (Nathaniel Wilson)got his first break through being a friend of Eric B's brother. Via gentle persuasion from Eric B himself, G Rap was then introduced to DJ Polo in '86. Polo, being a schoolfriend of Marley Marl, took G Rap over to Marl's house one night & the three of them started work on a record - which turned out to be their first single - "It's A Demo". G Rap & Polo were now fully fledged members of the Juice Crew & had signed to Marl's Cold Chillin label.

It was clear from this 1st song that Kool G Rap (Kool Genius of Rap), despite having an audible lisp, was a very talented rapper. As his write-up on Wiki states, "He trademarked the ability to rhyme the same syllables in the same combinations, though with different words, for a whole verse (16 bars long)". And through this style, he can be clearly seen as influencing other rappers such as Rakim, Kane, Big Pun, Nas & MF Grimm (the last two he practically introduced to the hip hop world).

Throughout his career, his experiences of life growing up in Queens & his fascination with mafioso/the gangster scene are all very apparent. There are often references to Al Capone, Sam Giancana (ex Mafia boss) & ganster films such as Scarface & The Untouchables. He loved to rap about his ambition of bettering himself - shown no more evidently in the title track of his first album "Road To The Riches", released on Cold Chillin in '89. This song, even though he was only 21 yrs old at the time, is probably one of the best autobiographical hip hop records of all time; the lyrics written with passion & power & a real insight into his struggle for a better life.

In my opinion, the "Road To The Riches" album was G Rap & Polo's finest work - featuring underground classics like "It's A Demo", "Men At Work", "Posion" and the Gary Numan sampling "Cars". The album features many of the (at that time) staple samples such as "Funky Drummer" by James Brown & "Apache" by The Incredible Bongo Band but also used more unusual samples such as "Stiletto" by Billy Joel & "Overnight Sensation" by Avalanche to give it a feel of real depth & character.

G Rap & Polo went on to make two further albums together - "Wanted Dead or Alive" & "Live & Let Die" before parting company & going their separate ways. There seems to be little info around about the split & G Rap always seems to be cagey about giving too much away. In one interview in 2003, he says "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".

Polo's career after the split is less visible. I understand he remained in the production side of things for a while & he released "Freak of the Week" in '96, which was quite successful in the Miami Bass scene. As for G Rap, he re-emerged as a solo artist in '95 with the album "4,5,6" - which he says is one of the albums he's most proud of. Maybe this was because of it's success. It was his biggest selling album, even reaching no.24 in the US Billboard Top 200 album chart. This was followed by the less commercially succesful "Roots of Evil" album in '98 & then the long awaited "The Giancana Story" in 2002. The latter being a disappointment to both G Rap and his fans. Originally planned to be released on the Rawkus label, it was subsequently released by Koch after Rawkus went under & some of the material that G Rap planned to include on this record was taken off of it in the "infinte wisdom" of Koch's marketing dept.

Since then, Polo has released "Click of Respect" with the 5 Family Click - a team made up of his wife (Ma Baker) and various relatives. Though he himeslf is proud of this album, to me it pales in comparison to his earlier work. And it's his earlier work that most will remember him by. As Saigon once said "We all have to pay homage to Kool G Rap. G Rap is like Dr. J of Rap, Jordan got all the accolades but he learned a lot from Dr. J."

A few links for y'all....

Kool G Rap MySpace page -
http://profile.myspace.com/index.cfm?fuseaction=user.viewprofile&friendid=31920055

Kool G Rap official site -
http://www.koolgrapsite.com/

Kool G Rap interview on BallerStatus -
http://www.ballerstatus.net/features/read/id/66188124/

"Road To The Riches" video (thanks to AngryMidget) -
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=duk93K2kGys

"Road To The Riches" Lyrics -http://www.musicsonglyrics.com/K/koolgrapanddjpololyrics/
koolgrapanddjpoloroadtothericheslyrics.htm

"Road To The Riches" album -
http://rapidshare.com/files/1135970/kgr-r2tr.rar.html

"Wanted Dead Or Alive" album (thanks to Da Underground Kingz blogspot) -
http://www.megaupload.com/?d=S9HGWGE4

7 Comments:

Blogger BULLANT said...

Nice write up, I wonder why they split?

My personal favourite album is 'Live & Let Die', that track with the Geto Boys is nuts.

All the best. BULLANT

7:28 AM  
Blogger Screaming Donkey said...

Yeah, there's a few on that album that I liked too. Couldn't find a link for the album though

12:31 PM  
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they wouldn't believe me that he was wrong. Now I can just show them your blog :)

7:25 PM  
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