I had the honor to interview a rap legend for HitHipHop.com and in the process I was schooled on some hip hop facts. As a hip hop fan I wanted to put out there we needed to get this guy honored and to get his viewpoint on the current state of hip hop. Check the interview below and see how he helped Nas, starting the mafiaso flow, being a part of the Juice Crew and much more!
I mean it’s a honor, it’s definitely a honor. It’s a honor you know hearing Jay-Z acknowledge me more than once on records, on recordings. 50 Cent, Nas, being that I actually, you know was one of them, to try to get Nas into the game and actually I did contribute to that because I introduced him to [MC] Serch.
Kool G Rap: Your Favorite Rapper’s Favorite Rapper
HitHipHop.com: It looks like artists are now getting signed for their lyricism like Laws, Jay Electronica and J. Cole. Did you ever believe Hip Hop would take a 360 by going back to its roots?
Kool G Rap: I’m a person that knows everything comes full circle. I know if the ground roof of it was a rapper or emcee’s main focus was talent, a emcee job is really to stand out. You have a desire to stand out to be one of the best, you know what I’m saying. That’s what the main job line for every emcee should be. It’s to stand out amongst the best and represent your skills and your capabilities and how you get down and how you come across. How you do your thing, but once it left that and went to a thing of imaging, as far as swagger, not that swagger is not a part of it. But swagger is not what emcee’in or Hip Hop music in general is what it’s about. Swagger is a part of what being a emcee is, you need to have a voice, the ability to command a crowd. The ability to make yourself stand out to be unique. It’s not just one of the traits and this is what modernized Hip Hop did. It took one of the traits and pushed it to the forefront like this is what Hip Hop is about and that’s definitely false.
HHH: What is the difference between Kool G Rap then and now?
KGR: Kool G. Rap is a lot more mature. So I still talk about the same subject matter, but just from a different point of view. Some songs that I do might be me being creative and other songs might just be reflections from my past. Reflections from my surroundings, that might still be affiliated with more of the street mentality or street life in general. It’s a mixture of everything, actual events of my life. Things that current, I grab from people in my environment, people in my circumference, people around me. It’s also just being creative, simply just being creative. Like as far as concepts and stories and stuff like that. You know traditional G Rap sh**.
HHH: Describe a “good day” for Kool G Rap?
KGR: Being with family or being to myself and learning something new. I’m an individual that loves to learn. I love to learn new things and I love to gain knowledge and I’m not a person that feels like he knows everything. My cup is never on full, it’s always carrying a half cup with me and allow more things to be absorbed in. And that is what a good day is for me literally.
HHH: If you were selected for the VH1’s Hip Hop Honors. Who would you want to perform your classics?
KGR: Wow! Other than myself, somebody that I give a lot of credit to. It can be anybody from Wu-Tang, you know almost anybody from Wu-Tang. You know people that are classified as real Hip Hop. I mean Nas would be like an overwhelming honor, you know what I’m saying. (Laughs) My peers and label mates, like maybe Big Daddy Kane or you know what even Roots. He’s does so well like performing records that I’ve done already like “Men at Work” and you know things like that. And me performing with The Roots, performing some of my classic songs and stuff like that. I just have a personal liking for The Roots. That’s like “I love them dudes” you know I’m saying. I love them dudes and back in my early days of being G Rap, I would of never thought gravitate to an actual Hip Hop band. Like a drummer, guitarist and all that because Hip Hop for me was on the wheels of steel. But the way Roots do it, they bring it to you in a way where it’s sometimes, you can’t tell it’s not the record, like a dj throwing on a record. So once I experienced that from The Roots, I appreciated them on so many different levels, that it’s like unthinkable, unimaginable. You know what I’m saying, I got so much love and respect for The Roots because of that. And for Black Thought for being such a talented lyricist. I give him a lot of credit, I tip my hat to Black Thought.
HHH: How does it feel to be a major influence to Hip Hop artists Raekwon, Jay Z, Eminem and 50 Cent?
KGR: I mean it’s a honor, it’s definitely a honor. It’s a honor you know hearing Jay-Z acknowledge me more than once on records, on recordings. 50 Cent, Nas, being that I actually, you know was one of them, to try to get Nas into the game and actually I did contribute to that because I introduced him to [MC] Serch. I chopped his demos up at Def Jam, before Nas became Nas to the public as the public knows Nas. Papoose was another artist that I introduced to people before Papoose became you know who he is, you know what I’m saying? It’s really just a honor, I can’t even explain it in no other way being acknowledge by the best in the game. The Tupacs, the Big Puns, the Jay-Zs, the Nas’. I heard my name being mentioned by Biggie, you know when Biggie was alive. Just all the people that’s classified as the greats.
HHH: A lot of rappers are always critiquing themselves or trying to create a new sound. You are someone who did just that by creating a “mafiaso” flow. Where did this come from?
KGR: When I finally did get in the game, when I finally did get to meet up with Marley Marl and I linked up with Polo. I mean the things that was going on then, you was hearing about John Gotti in the news. Along with me being a person that had a love with mafioso type of films. Stuff like The Godfather and being fascinated by the life of Al Capone and Lucky Luciano and things of that nature, I mean that lifestyle was an’ attraction to more then just G. Rap. That was an attraction to most males from every walk of life cuz it had something to do with the male ego and macho-ism and all that. And most males carry a ego with them. Or a certain sense of macho-ism. Everybody wanna be macho or that dude that stands up to him. Those are the things that were popular in the male community. (Laughs) Even though women, back then, wanted to shy away from violence and stuff like that. They kinda equivalent to men now in these days, but back then they kinda wanted to shy away from too much violence or too much blood and gore and things of that nature. This is what made the early horror flicks so popular. Cuz people would go as a couple and the girlfriend would throw her face in they boyfriends chest when a scary scene pop up. Seeing somebody get they head cut off by Jason know what I’m saying, that’s what makes horror movies, you know, horror movies, in a classic sense. (Laughs) So you know, I grew up with that in me. You know I was fascinated by Godfather, Scarface and then the real life characters like John Gotti and Paul Castellano. Like all the names you were hearing bombard the news in the mid-eighty’s, late eighty’s. I was fascinated like everyone else. John Gotti used to have a crowd outside the courtroom cheering him on hoping he would beat his charges cuz everyone loves the Robin Hood. The Robin Hood of they times. And John Gotti was considered to be a Robin Hood in his neighborhood and beyond that.
Now as we all know, you were a part of the legendary Juice Crew. What were some memorable experiences with the group?
KGR: I would probably say my first time leaving New York and going overseas and experiencing what London was like. The crowd was just a whole different energy out there. Like before we went to London I experienced doing shows with the Juice Crew at various different places throughout the boroughs, even outta state like it could of been Philly or Jersey and stuff like that. But when we went to London it was like you experienced the energy from a whole different culture. People that wasn’t from your part of the world. And how they react to it. It was amazing. I never heard people in the crowd, blowing whistles, like actual whistles and stuff like that until I went to London. That’s what they do out there at concerts, and rap shows, they be like numbers of people with whistles and sh*t like that. It was an experience and it was a new experience for me at that time, and my age at that time, I had a great time, a wonderful time out there. Besides it already being a wonderful time performing alongside of a Biz Markie, a Roxanne Shante, a Big Daddy Kane, MC Shan. Some of these people before I got in the game, I was already looking up to them like “Oh my god yo!” It was just a dream to be rolling with like a MC Shan, a Shante, a Marley Marl, and Mr. Magic like “what!”. These are the like the pioneers or legends and some of the contributors of hip hop music that you have to take extremely serious. Like to me no one will be able to do what Mr. Magic did. Mr. Magic was like the perfect balance. He was street enough. He was educated enough. to hold the balance of; he’s not to street, he’s not too sophisticated to connect to the hip hop community. He had the perfect balance of both. To me Ive never heard a radio host that had that quality to the extent that Mr. Magic did. There’s nothing like hearing.. “It’s a world premiere, premiere, premiere..” There’s nothing like hearing that. Even with Flex dropping bombs, and no disrespect to Flex, when Flex drop a bomb on something it takes it to the next level but where it all comes from, when people wanna put a signature a certain release or a certain record that they playing, it comes from “world premiere”. And that comes from Mr. Magic.
HHH: As far as today’s hip hop scene, is there anyone that you’ve become a fan of?
KGR: To be honest my ears is not to the radio right now. I’m more of a mixtape dude. Like my ears is mainly to the streets an not to the radio waves. The radio is not appealing to me right now it don’t do nothing for me. I can hear certain songs from certain cats, and I don’t knock those people, but these are not the NWAs, The Geto Boys, Public Enemy, the KRS-Ones, the Rakims, the Big Daddy Kanes, the people that made a cat like me have to have their album or have to have to have to hear it or what they doing. Nobody on the radio does that to me so I keep my ears to the street basically.
HHH: So then as far as the underground scene and artists on the rise, is there anyone that grabs your attention?
KGR: Oh yeah absolutely. Joell Ortiz is one of those people. But he’s not on the rise, I mean, he definitely established like a nice following and fan base, he did his thing. Crooked I, Vinnie Paz, ni**as like that. I enjoy these people when I listen to them. I just love real hip hop in general.
HHH: Amen. Now before we let you go, what’s next for Kool G. Rap?
KGR: Besides dropping this next album, ‘Riches, Loyalty & Respect‘ I’m also working on this clothes line Gian Cana. It’s a clothing line & shoe line. This has been my main focus from late 2009 up to now in 2010. We plan to be out there marketing and promoting Gian Cana, sometime in 2011.
Interviewed by: Shiyana Bellamy
Conducted on December 15, 2010