I had the pleasure of speaking with an artist who I have respected and revered since the mid 80's, the one and only Kool G. Rap. Our discussion was not gossip-based, but strictly hip hop. It felt very natural to talk with one of the best lyricists to ever walk this Earth. He was cordial, funny, down to earth, and a genuine cat for real. This conversation will go down as one of my best interviews/discussions ever! Thanks to On The Rise Magazine CEO Attica Lundy, Editor In Chief Aisha Staggers, Staff Writer Kelsey Jones, and the rest of my magazine family. WE SUPPORT THE COME UP!
On The Rise Magazine link: http://www.ontherisemagazine.com/2011/11/03/still-on-the-road-to-the-riches-an-interview-with-kool-g-rap
There are certain hip hop artists that demand and command respect. The venerable Kool G. Rap is one such artist. Born Nathaniel Wilson, he has been on the Hip-Hop radar for the better part of twenty-five years and is responsible for influencing a slew of “rhyme spitters” and gritty street poets such as Big Pun, Nas, Jay-Z, Notorious B.I.G., Crooked I, Joell Ortiz, and countless others. Since his Juice Crew days, the name Kool G. Rap has been synonymous with the multisyllabic flow that is commonplace in today’s lyricism-driven Hip-Hop scene. He has weaved some of the most dynamic and visceral rhymes in the history of Hip-Hop culture, and he continues to make moves in front of, and behind, the scenes.
Listening to his standout verse on the Juice Crew classic, “The Symphony,” you can hear just how “ahead of the game” Kool G. Rap was even in that Golden Era of Hip-Hop. For those who do not know the history or backstory related to this piece, venture back to the very beginnings of Hip-Hop with ‘Road To The Riches,” by Kool G. Rap & DJ Polo, released on Cold Chillin’ Records in 1989. Over twenty years later, Kool G. Rap is still on that very road, still seeking riches, both literal and figurative, and that makes him not only “On The Rise”-worthy, but also legendary!
On a recent Sunday afternoon, I had the honor of discussing with this iconic artist his past, present, and future…and the future looks very bright for the one anointed Kool Genius Of Rap!
OTR: To start things off, it is a pleasure speaking with you today.
Kool G. Rap: No doubt man, I appreciate this opportunity to speak with you for real.
OTR: Let’s talk about your recent album Riches, Royalty, Respect. How do you feel about that project?
KGR: I didn’t want to do an album without having something to say. On Riches, Royalty, Respect, I touched on personal topics, some highlights that I didn’t touch on before. When I put albums together I am creative, I put stories together. It’s a well-rounded project. I speak on real life issues with this joint. From concepts to lyrical display, I covered all grounds, but I felt like the album caught a bad rap because there was no label push. People felt it was a classic. It kinda shocked me the label didn’t get behind the album.
OTR: In today’s hip hop climate, who are three current emcees on your radar?
KGR: Three CURRENT emcees? Rick Ross, got to give him a lot of props. I love his delivery. Dude got crazy wordplay and a slick approach. Joell Ortiz, I gotta bring him up, no doubt. He is definitely an ill emcee. Styles P is another that I gotta show love to. There are a crazy number of artists I can shout out, but those three stick out in the current crop.
OTR: Would you love to work with those artists?
KGR: I’ve actually worked with all three of those artists, so I’m grateful for that opportunity to “spit” with some real dope emcees.
OTR: How do you feel about the climate of hip hop currently? It seems like the Dirty South is doing major things in the industry.
KGR: You know man, everything evolves and revolves. New York had a stranglehold on the game from the beginning, then it went out to the West Coast, then the South really took the bull by the horns. The South didn’t dominate at first, but came into an explosion. They doing their thing, so I salute them most definitely. Me, as a New Yorker, I’m not offended at all. I like to mix it up anyway. I did a project back in the early 90’s with Sir Jinx from the West Coast, so we got that mutual respect.
OTR: I remember that album, Live And Let Die. You took the same approach that Ice Cube took when he recorded Amerikkka’s Most Wanted with the Bomb Squad.
KGR: Exactly. I had the opportunity to work with some of the best rappers ever in Ice Cube and Scarface. Ice Cube is always gonna be one of the greats, same thing with Scarface, NWA and The Geto Boys! I was never hating on any coast, any area. I salute the South. Music evolves. It might come back to New York, it might not. Something might come from another area we least expect. Baltimore can definitely do that, no doubt.
OTR: Thanks for that support. I hope my city [Baltimore] can band together and get that just due. Let’s discuss that reported Juice Crew movie that I’ve been hearing about. What’s the word on that project?
KGR: Well, when it first mentioned to me, it seemed like it would happen sooner than later. I spoke a few times with the producer of the project, and there were some ideas tossed around, but I haven’t heard anything at all about the movie, so that notion is on hold man.
OTR: Speaking of the Juice Crew, is there a possibility of a Juice Crew project?
KGR: No plans. I haven’t talked to anybody about that project. Of course, me and Kane would make sense. Lyrics and flows with both of us. There just hasn’t been any kind of communication about it though. That would be dope though.
OTR: Do you hear your influence in artists that are out now?
KGR: Of course I do. Not to sound cocky or anything, but yeah, I hear it all the time. Joell Ortiz comes to mind. People compare Ortiz to Pun, and they compare Pun to G. Rap, so there is that lineage right there. Ortiz would never say I don’t show that love, because I see the skills, I see the influence shining. Eminem shouted out G. Rap as an influence! That’s major. Of course Nas. We worked on “Fast Life” single before, so that is an artist I respect hugely.
OTR: Are there any new projects on the horizon?
KGR: I’m working on quite a few things. I’m working on shoe and clothing line right now. The shoe line is gonna be with exotic materials, alligator and crocodile, so we have to take our time, get the paperwork right. You can’t rush that at all. I’m also working on my label, Full Mettle, and I have a few artists that I’m working with. G. Rap got some surprises. I guess I can say I’m working with a group from Europe, a combination of pop, soul, and R&B. It’s gonna be a different look for me.
OTR: That’s definitely a departure from what I would expect from you.
KGR: I’m expanding my horizons, thinking outside the box. I’m not the type of artist to be boxed in or contained. It’s cool for me to do something unexpected, and Full Mettle is just that. Stay tuned! One thing I’m working on is a full album with The Alchemist. We’ve talked, and the project is a go. We’re gonna make that happen. It’s going to drop on the Full Mettle label.
OTR: Is there a timeline for this album?
KGR: We sat and talked and agreed on the project, so that’s good enough for me. We’re not going to rush this process. You know me, and you know The Alchemist, so this is a dope project in the making. I’m looking at a 2012 release, but nothing concrete yet. We just have to get into the process.
OTR: What would you like to say to the readers of On The Rise Magazine?
KGR: I wish you luck in helping to get B-more on the map. Baltimore got the street life on smash. Everybody knows about “The Wire”. Rappers from Philly, New Jersey, New York, they all know that Baltimore brings that gritty street life.
OTR: Baltimore appreciates that!
KGR: No doubt, my brother. In closing, you haven’t heard the last of Kool G. Rap. From my new project with Necro, my album with The Alchemist, my label Full Mettle, there is a lot in store when it comes to G. Rap. Look for that clothing line and shoe line. Look for a new album from me too. Much love bro! Peace!
OTR: Thank you for this golden opportunity to speak with you. It’s been an honor and pleasure, Kool G. Rap.
KGR: Likewise. Peace!
The latest Kool G. Rap album, entitled Riches, Royalty, Respect, was released earlier in 2011 to critical fanfare. The album is what you expect from G. Rap, full of descriptive, lyric-laden narratives about urban existence. Riches, Royalty, Respect was released and distributed by the Fat Beats imprint.
You can find his discography on his website: http://www.koolgrapnow.com/ and follow G. Rap on Twitter @koolgrapnow.