The Kool Genius of Rap forged a new rap language which was born in the park jams of NYC during Hip-Hop’s infancy.A true music legend of the highest caliber, Kool G Rap made his mark as the most eloquent lyricist of the world renowned Juice Crew, one of Hip-Hop’s earliest and most influential super-groups. Though his rap acumen is well known, some may be surprised that even as a teenager G Rap was an avid crate digger, bringing in scores of samples for Marley Marl to arrange for his debut record Road to the Riches, now enjoying its 20th anniversary. From being steeped in the streets of Queens Bridge to mastering the craft of an emcee, Kool G Rap saw the evolution of Hip-Hop as its history unfolded and remains relevant with new styles throughout each subsequent generation as he continues to build his timeless catalog.
This begins an unprecedented 3-part interview with Kool G Rap, his life, his times and all things past and present.
Gentle Jones: What’s
the word on the new album?
Kool G Rap: I’m still
working on Offer You Can’t Refuse. I’m kinda playing Dr. Dre
and taking my time, so that everything is right. I got a Just Blaze
track on there, I got tracks from Domingo. I’m definitely sitting on
some heat, and I’m not finished.
Gentle Jones: So what
else have you got cooking?
Kool G Rap: Let me tell
you the big secret, right now I am in the beginning stages of putting
a gator shoe line, called Giancanna Gators.
Gentle Jones: You are
gonna be killing them in church.
Kool G Rap: (Laughs)
I’m a big fan of Maury’s, they’ve been around since possibly the late
60’s. I started rocking Maury Gator hard bottom shoes and then they
start coming out with the sneaker versions and they look hot. Some of
them are maybe leather and gator, sometimes all gator, maybe lizard,
ostrich. A combination of precious skins. That’s all I wear. I want
to do the shit that I like. I got somebody doing designs for the ladies
line and I’ve already picked out 3 or 4 of the ladies shoes. We get
everything built original from the sole through the whole make up of
the shoe. This is not gonna be like somebody’s shoes and we attach our
name on it. We have to do a molding for the sole, for the upper part
of the shoe, the whole shoe basically.
“I know there was drug usage. Mostly
anybody was using drugs. Cocaine wasn’t nothing to be ashamed of at
that time. That was out in the open, in the public, in the club, in the
VIP section…”-Kool G Rap
AllHipHop.com: DJ Roc Raida recently passed, did you two work together?
Kool G Rap: DJ Roc Raida, that was my man, he used to DJ for me at my shows after me and Polo split up. I hadn’t spoken to him in years and then we touched base last year for the first time, we were talking about starting to do things again. I heard he needed back surgery or something like that. I thought we was out of the woods as far as life and death were concerned. We established a real close relationship. It was the 4,5,6 era. It was my first time going solo without DJ Polo, it was like a brand new day for me, I was stepping out on my own. It was a good time for me. Roc Raida became a part of that because I needed a DJ and I was cool with a couple people in the X-Men. I had Dr. Butcher, he was like a monster on the wheels and he recommended to me that I should do some shows with Roc Raida. He popped a tape in my VCR of one of the DMC Championships and Roc Raida’s set, when I seen this kid, I never seen no DJ do what Roc did, I was completely blown the f*ck away. He was amazing. And I remember cats like Peter Parker, DJ Cashmoney, Jazzy Jeff and them. But I never seen nobody quite do the sh*t I seen Roc Raida do, like putting the f*cking mixer on his back and cutting back and forth. He would get loose on the stage. Like we would have a segment when we would just put the spotlight on him, I would stand back and watch and be just as entertained as the crowd. He never ceased to amaze me, his talent and skills with those turntables.
AllHipHop.com: He was certainly ahead of his time, its fitting that you worked together since your style was always futuristic since the beginning.
Kool G Rap: Thank you. It means a lot for you to recognize that. A lot of people did say I was ahead of my time, especially back then. The times have finally caught up now. For me to be coming out 88, 89 and flowing the way I was flowing, and playing with the words, just showing the wordplay and metaphors. I definitely was ahead of my time.
“Its a hell of a job being a rapper,
being a lyricist. Its way hell of a harder job than a regular
songwriter. Rock songs are 12 lines…Hip-Hop you
have to write three verses of different words, and to be a credible
lyricist…”-Kool G Rap
AllHipHop.com: Hip-Hop has expanded the possibilities a songwriter can explore, you’ve always taken advantage of that.
Kool G Rap: Its a hell of a job being a rapper, being a lyricist. Its way hell of a harder job than a regular songwriter. Rock songs, or songs in general, it may be 12 lines and maybe they repeat it twice and they have some choruses and maybe a couple of bridges and thats a complete record. Whereas Hip-Hop you have to write three verses of different words, and to be a credible lyricist you gotta play with the words, you gotta stand out because you don’t wanna sound like any Joe Schmo just picking up the mic for the first time. You got to be very clever with your wordplay, your metaphors, and your flows. Thats what being a lyricist is to me.
AllHipHop.com: What drove you to take your lyrics to the level that you did?
Kool G Rap: I’m very competitive. I wanted to box before I even rapped. And the first day I went to a boxing gym, the next day they closed down for good, can you f*cking believe that? The gym was around for years, one of my homies, his older brother used to go to that gym. So the gym was around. As soon as I go there, and then I go there the next time to go back, the fucking gym is shut down for good, they said, There’s no boxing here no more. I was so much wanting to box, I used to bring boxing gloves out in the streets and try to box people, even if somebody knocked my head off. I just wanted to learn, I wanted to be good at it. I knew dudes like Kevin Kelly, the Flushing Flash, I went to high school with him. I was in like 9th grade then. It was the same time I started to write that I wanted to box. But if I would of got in that ring I definitely would have knocked a couple of f*cking heads off.
AllHipHop.com: I heard that when you were a kid you were deep in the streets. Were you just fighting or doing illegal stuff or what?
Kool G Rap: When I was a kid in the streets I was doing illegal stuff and I was around illegal stuff. Some of the dudes I used to be around was pretty much famous dudes in the streets. My man Rah-Rah, they made a movie about my man with LL and Omar Epps called In Too Deep, that was about my man Rah-Rah but they used to call him God out in Boston. These dudes left Corona and went to Boston and made millions. I been around a lot of sh*t. If you turn Eric B and Rakim’s first album around you see me on the back there with Eric and all of them and f*cking the original 50 cent.
AllHipHop.com: Were drugs a problem for the Juice Crew?
Kool G Rap: I know there was drug usage. Mostly anybody was using drugs. Cocaine wasn’t nothing to be ashamed of at that time. That was out in the open, in the public, in the club, in the VIP section, the dudes that has coke and a hundred dollar bill, these was the dudes that had all the money, all the jewelry, all the woman, all the cars, these was the dudes who had names in the hood for being notorious or for being rich off the streets. The same place you see the dudes with the coke, you see the bottles of Dom P, you see all that. Nobody was even trying to hide certain things back in them days. So there was definitely drug usage because we was like the kids from the disco era, where everybody was flaunting cocaine, glorifying cocaine. We the kids from that era, there was disco and cocaine and that was it.