Kool G Rap – The Unkut Interview, Part 2
Sunday December 23rd 2012,
Filed under: Features,G Rap Week,Interviews,Killa Queens,Not Your Average,Rap Veterans
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Following on from Part 1, Kool G Rap discusses his discography following his debut, the “Cop Killer” fall-out, the failed session with the Neptunes and why Queens isn’t soft because it has trees.

Robbie: When did you begin work on Wanted: Dead Or Alive?

Kool G Rap: Maybe a year later, after Road To The Riches got released.

How was it going from working with Marley to Eric B. and Large Professor?

It was great. Me and Eric was close, and I looked-up to Eric B. and Rakim as a group. I was just as much a fan as everybody else. Nobody can deny their music.

Did you ever discuss making a song with Rakim?

We talked about it but it happened to never really come into place. Me and Ra’s from different areas – Ra’s from Long Island, I was from Queens, so it wasn’t like we bumped into each other all the time. I would only see Rakim if he would come to Queens to fuck with Eric and them.

Were you involved in choosing the records you rhymed over?

I would bring records to the studio to Marley and tell him what to do. I would tell him, “Yo, put this with this, put that with that.” He’d be feeling my ideas I was coming with, then he would add something to it and the record would just come out crazy. It was definitely Marley’s ear and Marley’s touch that made the record come out sounding nice and polished, because he was an experienced producer. I just was a writer with a lot of ideas – I knew what I wanted to rap over.

Like the Billy Joel record used on “Road To The Riches”?

Yeah, I brought that in ‘cos I loved it the first time I heard Cold Crush 4 on it.

What inspired you to use Gary Numan’s “Cars”?

I used to always love that record. That was the Run-DMC influence on that one. I don’t know how nobody coulda came out rapping in my era and didn’t have no Run-DMC influence whatsoever. That was the Run-DMC part of G Rap coming out, but as you can see it didn’t come nowhere near Run-DMC! [laughs]

How did you feel about Bel Biv Devoe using you for the hook of that “Poison” record?

I just heard my voice on the radio on Bel Biv Devoe record. They never said, “Yo G, we’re gonna use your voice,” they just used it. But that’s part of hip-hop and R&B. R&B was becoming very similar to hip-hop, production-wise, so I didn’t look at it no kind of crazy way. I was honored that they wanted to use my voice like that. It meant that I was on their radar.

Did you hear any of TJ Swan’s unreleased album with Marley?

I heard one or two [songs] but I never heard the whole album. I used to love to see TJ Swan live when he used to be on stage live with Biz Markie and they used to do they little routines and stuff before they would do one of their hit records. I used to love seeing them do that together. Biz already had crazy stage presence, he was funny, the beats was crazy. They show was one of the real enjoyable shows, as far as hip-hop artists back in those times. To me it was like Biz, Kane and Doug E. Fresh had a hell of a stage presence. I used to love seeing Doug E. on stage.

Did you do many shows with the rest of the Juice Crew?

We did a Cold Chillin’/Juice Crew tour out in London in the UK. We did that early, I didn’t even have an album out then, I only had a single. Other than that, there was maybe one other time, when artists like Grand Daddy IU came, Masta Ace came, and they was part of the Juice Crew too, but there wasn’t a whole lot of that. I would end up on the same bill as Shan or Kane much later in the years.

Where you tight with Mr. Magic?

Me and Magic hung-out a couple of times, but it was never an everyday thing. I used to be around Shan, I used to be around my man Fly Ty – the co-owner of Cold Chillin’ Records – and my man Polo. Me and Grand Daddy IU was mad cool, too. We would end-up on the same show sometimes, so we would get to wherever we performing at and we would hang-out. Sometimes we would stay days and days after the show was over, just hanging out together. That’s a real good dude right there.

What’s your favorite track from the second album?

Lyrically? “Kool Is Back” was my “Men At Work” for the Wanted: Dead Or Alive album. I used to always try to keep one of those type of records on the album back in those times, because that’s when I was really trying to establish that I’m not just an ordinary rapper. I’ve got a little more with me than just being ordinary. So every time I did an album, I would try and put a “Men At Work” or a “Kool Is Back” on it, just to re-establish, “This is me!”

Your third album was caught in the fall-out of the “Cop Killer” stuff, wasn’t it?

They didn’t wanna put out none of the hardcore street artists. Warner Brothers didn’t want to put out my album or Live Squad album neither. Without that major machine behind it, it didn’t fulfill all it’s potential. But as far as the streets? G Rap had the streets with that record.

Did you stay in LA while you were making Live and Let Die?

I would go out there for like a month at a time, sometimes two months. I spent around six months out in Cali recording that with [Sir] Jinx.

Was it more laid-back out there?

Laid back? It was gang-bang central out there! [laughs] It was a different atmosphere. I was charged up about recording an album out there, because my first time going to Cali with Kane, Biz, Shante, Shan – all of us – we had went out there for a big industry function to perform. I just loved Cali after that – I loved the atmosphere, I just loved being there. Plus I wanted to work with Jinx. Jinx is one of the illest producers out there that don’t get his proper credit.

Why did you add those three Trackmasterz songs onto the album after finishing the Sir Jinx stuff?

Trackmasterz had a rap group that Fly Ty was dealing with. I liked the rap group and I liked the tracks that they was rapping over, so when I came back from Cali, Fly Ty said he could get me tracks from these cats. They gave the track for “Ill Street Blues” and I went crazy and wrote the first two verses on the spot, right there in the studio.

Why was that album originally called Live and Let Die – The Movie?

I always wanted to do an album that was constructed like a movie, but I think I accomplished it more with Roots of Evil.

The record that stood out to me was “One Dark Night” where you did a triple cadence. That was seriously slept on.

That whole album, right? When people ask me what’s one of my favourite albums, that’s one that’s at the top of my list.

T-Ray describes you as “The Muddy Waters of Hip-Hop” since you had an influence of people like Nas and Big L. How do you feel about that statement?

It’s an honorable statement. I appreciate Big L as a lyricist, and Nas is legendary status. That’s already established – that’s written in stone. For me to be mentioned by Nas himself as an influence? I’m grateful to have made that kind of impact to inspire somebody that would turn out to be a Nas, who I look to very much to be incredible, lyrically.

When you recorded “Fast Life” with him, it felt like a passing of the torch.

Absolutely. That wasn’t the intention, but I understand what you mean. It kinda had that appearance to it, and it probably did work out that way.

Do you remember an incident when MF Grimm and Joe Fatal took your car out and got into a fight with a cab driver?

No, I don’t really recall that. I met Grimm through Joe Fatal, so they was already tight, so there was a lotta times they hung-out and did things that I never knew about. I met B-1 through Grimm, and he actually had a single deal with Rawkus before I even signed with ‘em. I met them both when I was recording the 4,5,6 album. I already knew Grimm was nice, but that was my first time hearing B-1, and I was blown away. I was like, “This kid sounds hungry, yo.” B-1 was nice, yo.

Do you remember recording a track with B-1, Freddie Foxx and Grimm, over a Lord Finesse beat? I read about in RapPages.

I don’t recall the song. Maybe I did a verse for B-1 and he maybe he put other cats on it later. I never heard the version with Bumpy Knuckles and Grimm ahead of time. Just like I recently did the record for RZA soundtrack [The Man With Iron Fists], but when I got it it only had Ghostface verse on it – matter of fact I never even heard Raekwon’s verse for that record. Sometimes records just turn out that way.

How did you meet T-Ray?

I met him through [Dr] Butcher. He gave me that crazy-ass track for “Shit Ain’t Never Gonna Change” [“Take ‘Em To War”].

Were you based in Arizona when you did that album? T-Ray said you recorded some stuff in a cabin up-state.

I was going back and forth. It wasn’t a cabin – the studio owned a whole lot of land, and they had about three or four houses on the land, and whoever rented out the studio would basically live there. You’d stay there for like a week or two.

Did you discover Papoose?

He had already been working with a producer outta Brooklyn. He introduced me to him, than I started to work with Papoose and Jinx [Da Juvy]. I got Jinx signed to Def Jam Records. Jinx was really young, I think he was 15 years old, and he had a half a million dollar deal with Def Jam, but he didn’t run with the right crowd and all that and he started getting into a lot of legal trouble. I guess it became too much of a headache, so they just wiped their hands of the project.

You later made a huge buzz when you started doing a lot of features, peaking with “The Realest” for Mobb Deep.

I was doing so many features at the time that I began to re-surface again. The Mobb Deep feature was like a knock out the park. It made everybody start paying attention again.

That lead to your Rawkus deal. What exactly happened there?

Right after completion of that album, Rawkus lost their financial backing and they lost their distribution and had to find a new home, basically. They had to establish another situation, and my album got all tangled up in that. By contract, they couldn’t put my record out as an independent. They had to put it out through a major – that was one of the stipulations in my paperwork. I had to sit around and wait for them to construct a whole new deal, so I chose not to sit around.

What happened with your aborted session with The Neptunes?

Pharrell was trying to cater to hits that I did in the past, but I wanted him to come with some of the things he was doing during those times. He was trying to come to my world, but I was trying to go to his world. I was trying to explain to him, “I’m trying to bring G Rap to your world. Not convert to your world.” But he was stuck on “Ill Street Blues,” I guess that was one of his favorite G Rap records, so I suppose he was trying to cater to that sound – but I was trying to get into the Neptunes sound of the times!

What sets Queens apart?

Queens got some history – you’ve got legends that resisided in Queens at one time or another. Louis Armstrong had a house in Corona, Queens. The house that Malcolm X used to live in – that got fire-bombed – is in East Elmhurst. As far as the hip-hop sound? Queens is a good mixture. You’ve got parts of Queens that are kind of cool areas, then you’ve got parts of Queens that are straight-up gutter. Dudes from Queens aways had a “get money” mentality, because some of them might come from that – and the ones that didn’t come from that got a “get money” mentality because they see other people that’s a little better-off than them, and they not that far from ‘em. You could be in a part of Queens and it’s straight gutter, then go ten blocks another direction and be in a place where the families own they house, and might have a little land in the South or another house in the South. They come from something. Their parents might be educated and went to college and all that. Then you have another part of Queens that was straight hood – your mom’s might’ve been a dope fiend, or your pop’s mighta been a slinger – a pimp! It was all in close proximity to each other. That’s why rapper’s that come from outta Queens have a bit of everything. Nas sounds street, but then again he’s intelligent too. He’s multi-dimensional.

Didn’t The Bronx and Brooklyn try to say that Queens was soft because you had trees out there?

Let me tell you something…all that about Queens being soft and all that, back in the days, that came from people that didn’t really know about Queens. You had a lot of Uptown cats, Harlem dudes that moved to Queens and bought homes ‘cos they were gettin’ money. You had Brooklyn dudes that moved to Corona, Queens. It wasn’t like everyone in Queens was born in Queens and raised in Queens. The real dudes from every borough knew the real dudes from Queens back in those times, so they wasn’t the ones saying Queens was soft. Goons connect with other goons. It was other people that didn’t really move around from outta their boroughs. Early 80’s it was Fat Cat’s in Queens, it was Supreme’s in Queens. Baisley projects, 40 projects, Corona…Queensbridge. Astoria projects – where shit happens! That’s why later in the years they would call that shit “Cop Killer Queens” [chuckles].

What have you been working on?

In recent times I’ve been doing a lotta features for different artists projects. One of the highlights was the RZA movie soundtrack, The Man With The Iron Fists, one of the bigger features I’ve done in recent times, but I do a lotta other stuff, even with cats overseas. I stay busy like that.

Any plans to work with Alchemist again?

Me and Alchemist was talking about doing a collaboration album together. Right now I’m wrapping-up my collaboration album with Necro. It’s lyrical onslaught – back-to-back lyrical swordsmanship.

Are you happy with where hip-hop is right now?

To be honest, I’m not really tuned-in to what’s going on in the hip-hop scene right now. I don’t listen to radio. The hip-hop of today is a totally different world to the hip-hop I’m accustomed to. It’s really not on my radar right now.

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41 Comments so far
Leave a comment

Dope interview…I gotta say I liked Live and Let die but on that album and afterward he lost his battle rhymer/ introspective style and became more mafioso rap…which gets boring…still he’s a legend.

Comment by Eatshit 12.24.12 @

essential history. is there truth to the rumor that eric b ran g rap outta town for some reason? not that it really matters. kane v g rap? who was the best in the juice crew? let the debate begin. father of nas, pun, raekwon, and DOPE on his own two feet–the kool genuis of rap!

Comment by oim 12.25.12 @

When actual gangsters were after G rap he did leave town…that’s when he recorded 456 I believe.

Comment by Eatshit 12.25.12 @

@ oim:

Kane vs. G Rap? Kane would have made it interesting but G all day…

Comment by oskamadison 12.25.12 @

Well we`ll prob never know- he seems pretty private person i thought robbie was going in a couple of times “and where you hiding in the shack from dangerous enemies”. What would it take to get a full authorized grap biography?

Comment by Gx 12.25.12 @

That Eric B. rumor is clearly false…the reasons he left have been hinted at in other interviews here but there are some things best left alone out of respect.

Comment by Robbie 12.25.12 @

G Rap definitely a top 5 MC of all time – and that is some achievement! Truly Yours is a legendary track.

Comment by Dave 12.25.12 @

Unkut is winning

Comment by andrewfrumrusha 12.26.12 @

Live and Let Die is one of the greatest albums ever. I remember it being really hard to find in stores back in ’92 due to the cover. Still listen to it 20 years later.

Comment by Caesar 12.27.12 @

Good job Robbie on boating your marlin. Kool G Rap is the father to a lot of people’s style.

Comment by BIGSPICE 12.27.12 @

G Rap’s 2nd & 3rd were bulletproof classics, his 1st & 4th were near-classic (1st had his greatest battle records). G Rap is certainly top-10 if not top-5 ever.

Comment by RBI 12.27.12 @

Thanks for this one. Really appreciated the wrap up, was worried for a second he’d cosign a bunch of names that would make me give the computer screen the ol’ stink eye.

Comment by Lair 12.27.12 @

“Do you remember an incident when MF Grimm and Joe Fatal took your car out and got into a fight with a cab driver?” http://t.co/MF06ZZ9a

Comment by @gwarizm 12.27.12 @

Of course Robbie finds a way to ask his biggest kahuna about TJ Swan!! Robbie could get an exclusive interview with the second shooter from the grassy knoll and his first question would be something about Tj Swan’s unreleased material! Stay reppin’ 13 though, my man!!

Comment by digglahhh 12.27.12 @

This made my day. Thank you.

Comment by LEX 12.28.12 @

Roots of Evil had some quality material on it, it was hardly mentioned at the time. I miss G Rap’s more introspective rhymes, he is obviously a deep thinker but he focused on crime raps a lot later in his career, I guess it’s a facet of his personality. Thanks for the interview.

Comment by silent minority 12.28.12 @

Your base has spoken robbie, this is the shit we need right now! Interview with Legends and the oft forgotten

I’m putting in my request right now: Please go do interviews with:
Lord Finesse
Super Lover C and Casanova Rudd
Steady B (It’s not like he’s going anywhere)
3Xs Dope
Brother J
Wise Intelligent
AZ (and while your at it Azie Faison too!- Mobb Style was ILL)
The other half of Live Squad
Kay Slay
Kool Keith
Ced Gee

That’s all I can think off the dome, but I’m sure the rest of the heads will have choices I’ll appreciate.

Comment by BKThoroughbred 12.28.12 @

I always wanted to know what happened with that track with him and Cormega “Thugs At Work” with Kool G Rap… what the fuck happened to that song?

Comment by Got a question 12.28.12 @

Sure, I’ll add to the list of requests.

DJ G-Bo the Pro. Double R optional, but G-bo for sure.
RA the Rugged Man (you haven’t interviewed him already, right?)
Sauce Money
Dru Ha
And, I know people may think I’m wildin with this one, but Milkbone. First off – I thought dude had skills. Second, with all the fuss about who gets to use the N-word, and after there was that whole dust up about the basement Eminem record about the black ex-GF or whatever, people forget that there actually was a rap album put on a major label with a white rapper repeatedly dropping the n-word. …I feel like this is something somebody needs to talk/write about because for all the controversy about this word, people don’t even acknowledge this ever happened before.

Comment by digglahhh 12.29.12 @

Oh, any or all of Natural Elements too.

I don’t care all that much about his music, but I bet Black Rob would have some stories!

Comment by digglahhh 12.29.12 @

I agree with quite a few of the suggestions above, and there’s a lot out there but I would like to see a Mic Geronimo interview.

Comment by silent minority 12.29.12 @

O.C. too.

Comment by silent minority 12.29.12 @

Yo! One Dark Night is one of my favourite G Rap joints, I always put it on mixtapes and figured I was the only one who never slept on it! Respect to unkut.com for bringing the realest interviews on the internet!

Comment by Rob Warren 12.29.12 @

Also do a Scaramanga or a Goretex/Gore Elohim interview! WOOT WOOT!

Comment by Rob Warren 12.29.12 @

Robbie did a good Scaramanga interview back in like ’05, a new one might be nice if he ever releases another album.
Obviously the One Leg Up interview with Godfather Don from 2008 is good, but I feel like the Unkut perspective with him could be great.
MC Serch would be fun if only to confront him on using “nigga” in the 90’s (El-P did it too, on record) and then going and making that poor girl wear that ridiculous nigga chain on his silly VH1 show for using the word.
Though seriously, no need to be the language police or court controversy, I just enjoy when people’s hilarious hypocrisy is pointed out. Dwelling on that shit becomes tedious.

Comment by Lair 12.29.12 @

more interviews that would b good…

Stretch Armstrong & Bobbito (89.9)

..and what about Mighty Mi and Mr Eon, they should have some good stories

Comment by lou 12.29.12 @

@digglahhh i don’t even think b.r was in it but the complex article on The Tunnel is a good read for that era of hip hop.

Comment by Gx 12.29.12 @

All y’all had some on point suggestions. As far as OG’s go, Marley Marl, Howie Tee, Easy Mo Bee, GZA, Chy-Skillz (building on workin’ with Jam Master Jay (RIP) on Onyz’ “Bacdafucup” joint and his theory on what happened to JMJ), Q-Tip, and the whole DITC would all be something to shoot for.

Co-sign that complex article on the Tunnel. Their other joint “The top 75 Tunnel Bangers” was ill and insightful too.

Comment by oskamadison 12.30.12 @

Q: When did Nathaniel decide it was better to play a retard mafia character instead of a black man?

Or is Nathaniel really in the mob?!

“Roots of Evil”– whoa!

“Gianacana Story”– double whoa!!

Johnny Depp and Al Pacino should have talked to Nathaniel when they made “Donnie Brassco,” learn what it’s like to be an gangster.

Comment by Louie the Lump 01.01.13 @

p/s– KGR has been utter dogshit since “4, 5, 6″ (which itself was half-crap) and no fan who ever understood what made Nathaniel great who doesn’t recognize that is a simp or ball licking fan boy.

Sadly, Nathaniel is way too gone in his cartoon bullshit to even pull back and make ADULT rap music again, a shame given the great potential he once showed.

Comment by Louie the Lump 01.01.13 @

Respect for what, Robbie? Clik of Respect?

Nathaniel is a horse’s ass, glorifying mob violence and revenge meanwhile he runs to fucking Arizona or wherever as soon as it gets even semi-real…

I don’t wish the man ill in the least (nobody deserves the fate of having to work with Necro) hard to empathize with a dude who turned on every intellectual and poetic virtue that actually made him great.

How can anyone pretend Nathaniel has breathed the same air as this in the last 20 years?


Comment by Lefty 01.01.13 @

who keeps letting in debbie downer?

Comment by lou 01.01.13 @

Everyone below me…PLEASE do not feed the troll…

Comment by oskamadison 01.02.13 @

What troll

Comment by Gx 01.02.13 @

The “Nathaniel” cat…Every G Rap post, same shit…

Comment by oskamadison 01.02.13 @

First, I’d like to see an interview with da brat, and then B-Rock & the Bizz and also chief keef and Tityboi aka 2chainz. All the aforementioned have been tremendous influences on the likes of recently re-deceased holographic 2pac and Amber Rose’ fetus. Also, if you interview these highly influential rappers I will powder the back of my hand and bitch slap this dude calling G Rap Nathaniel, like his mom dukes shoulda done before he ever spit any googoo gagas out of his keyboard crumb hoovering twin banana slug mouth.

Alright, now in all seriousness, this interview was like the fuckin cherry on top of the 2 parter. Not only did you manage to ask about the cabin-in-the-woods coke boy safe house/studio but he even made reference to Dr Butcher doin production on some tracks. And I have to agree that you somehow turned a G Rap interview into a TJ Swan shoutout/name drop. This was some kinda Seinfeldesque shit that just had layers and layers to it Rob, like a turducken, cheesy gordita crunch, or like when you are really faded and decide that dipping your ice cream sandwich into your layered chocolate mousse pudding was probably the best idea for a munchies cure ever.

Comment by gstatty 01.03.13 @

Did G rap fuck that dude’s mom? Why is he so angry with him? Anyway G Rap is the man. Here is one of my favorite freestyles from the man himself:


Comment by BIGSPICE 01.04.13 @

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