Kool G Rap
The hip-hop legendary emcee swings through WHO?MAG to talk about his new EP “Half a Klip”. The former Juice Crew alumni talks about the new Juice Crew movie, the classic “Symphony” cut, the whole Rawkus situation, some of his classic songs, and some little known facts about his history.
By William Hernandez

WHO?MAG: Tell me about the new album Half a Klip?
KOOL G RAP: It’s an EP. It’s about 2 or 3 songs short of an album. I threw it out there as a sampler/appetizer for all the people that have wanted to taste G Rap for a good three years right now.

WHO?MAG: Why did you choose to do an EP instead of a full album?
KOOL G RAP: Like I said it’s a little appetizer to put out there. The last thing I did was the Click of Respect album which was the album you were talking about with me and the five family click. I dropped a mixtape with Whoo Kid and now the EP, then I’m going to hit them with the grand finale the album real soon.

WHO?MAG: How did you hook up with Chinga Chang records?
KOOL G RAP: I met the CEO of Chinga Chang records. Dan had come to me about doing a feature with one of the artists he was working with. After doing the feature with him, we just built a relationship from there. We took it to a whole different level than just me doing a feature.

WHO?MAG: Who do you have on the album as far as producers and cameo appearances?
KOOL G RAP: I got my man Primo, Domingo, and Moss who’s an up and coming dude that got some crazy heat with him. I got my man Frank Dukes who’s another up and coming cat from Canada.

WHO?MAG: How was it working with DJ Premier in the studio?
KOOL G RAP: It’s always good to work with Premier. He’s such a creative producer. It’s the same thing as me working with a Large Professor or Marley Marl. These dudes are real talented with their craft. Me being who I am and Premier being who he is, we just amaze each other. He’s honored to be in my presence and vice versa.

WHO?MAG: I heard they’re working on a Juice Crew movie. What are your thoughts on it?
KOOL G RAP: It’s about time they put out something visual to capture that moment in history because it’s a very important moment in history and Juice Crew changed the game in those times. For me, a lot of clicks popped off from there like the Wu Tang Clan, Mobb Deep with Infamous Mobb, but the Juice Crew was the foundation for a lot of click kind of things because Def Jam Records was a label like Cold Chillin was of course and a very successful one at that. It wasn’t like all the Def Jam artists were under one name. Cold Chillin records and the Juice Crew were really pioneers for that. They reached out to me. I’m not sure if I’ll be playing a full role, but I know the guy putting the movie together and he wants me to come in and make some appearances at lease 2 or 3 times in the movie.

WHO?MAG: Speaking of the Juice Crew, will there ever be a Juice Crew reunion?
KOOL G RAP: That’s something Kool G Rap couldn’t answer. It’s like 6, 7 members in the Juice Crew. My feels and opinions aren’t going to unite the click. It would take the cooperation of 6 or 7 different personalities and 6 and 7 different opinions Periodically, I hear from everybody. Periodically, I hear from Marley Marl, Kane. I haven’t heard from Biz Markie in years. I usually cross paths in the street or we do an event or something and he happens to be there.

WHO?MAG: You were one of the first emcees to work with the Trackmasters on the song “Ill Street Blues”. How did that come about? Why didn’t you ever work with them again?
KOOL G RAP: They were already doing work with an act that Fly Ty from Cold Chillin records was about to sign. Trackmasters was producing tracks for these guys. I don’t think the situation ever happened, but what he kept a communication line open with the Trackmasters because they had heat. It was not so crazy for them to do a track for G Rap and whoever else at the time, but I was the only one that stepped up to them and used them. I know a lot of the other artists wish they did to because them dudes had crack. It was amazing working with them on “Ill Street Blues”. We were in a studio out in Queens. Actually they didn’t have the hardware and they were telling me about this track that they had done on a floppy disc that had new samples that they had just put together, but they didn’t have it on them. One of them, I think it was Frank Nitty, that used to run with the Trackmasters, ran all the way to Bronx to get the floppy disc to come back and do it in the sample machine. As soon as he played the sampled, it rocked my world. I was like “Oh my God! This is ridiculous!” Just listening to the beat told me what direction to take in lyrically. That’s basically what I did. I think right after that album which was the Live and Let Die album. They had started becoming so big and heavy doing their own thing. I think I just moved on pretty much. It wasn’t that I didn’t want to work with them, but I actually did link up with Frank Nitty from the Trackmasters; the one that actually did the Ill Street Blues sample on the Giancana Story album, so I did kind of come back around the block again. Hopefully in the future we can link up and do something again. With the EP, I went back to Marley and Premier. On the next one, I want to grab the same dudes again: Marley, Premier, Easy Moe Bee, Trackmasters, even Diamond D or some of the producers down with Diggin in the Crates. I want to back with that raw essence and hip hop sound to it.

WHO?MAG: Speaking of producers, how did you hook up with Sir Jinx for the Live and Let Die album and how is he in the studio?
KOOL G RAP: That was an A&R person that used to be with Warner Brothers at the time. She made that happen and connected Sir Jinx and I. I told her I wanted to work with him because I thought his tracks were out of here. I thought he was a helluva good producer. She made the connection happen. Sir Jinx and I linked up and I flew to California and we knocked out that whole album, minus the tracks the Trackmasters did. That dude is like a barrel of fun and ton of laughs. That’s right up my alley because I’m the same way. W e just like to have fun. Back then, it was just a fun thing, making albums and whatever. It wasn’t so tedious like you got to do this for radio and that for radio. We were just having fun with it and that’s what real hip hop is to me. When you got to start making records to suit certain people or classes of people or age groups, that’s when you start taking the fun out of the shit.

WHO?MAG: How did you do the “Wake Up Show Anthem” with Sway and King Tech back in 1999?
KOOL G RAP: It was myself, Eminem, Xhizibt, Pharaoh Monch, Tech N9ne, my man Chino XL, and some other people I can’t remember off the top of my head. That video was crazy. I was always cool with Sway and Tech. Tech had reached out to me, basically to jump on the song as simple as that. He called me up, “G, I need you on there” Those is my dudes. Ain’t nothing that they can’t call me and say G I need this from you and I won’t get right on it for them dudes because I have an appreciation for them because they have a real appreciation for hip hop. They been supporting and rocking it for years so I support them dudes to the fullest. The video shoot was fun. Watching the director, I can’t remember his name, he also shot the “Cakes” video with RZA and myself. He did an incredible job with it because it was almost like shooting a movie. It was like two days work and making a movie.

WHO?MAG: I’m glad you mentioned that song “Cakes” with the RZA that was on the Ghost Dog Soundtrack. How did it come about?
KOOL G RAP: My manager told me at time that RZA wanted me on a song. He was working on the Ghost Dog soundtrack and he wanted me to get on one of the songs for the soundtrack. It was simple as that. I went to the RZA’s studio laid it there. Next thing I know he’s like “yo G, I’m shooting a video for it. I want you to come out to California.” I flew out to California and chopped it up with RZA for a couple of days as well Forrest Whittaker, Ghostface, and Shyheim. I have a lot of respect for Wu Tang. I love their music. They got a mutual love and respect for the music as well. It’s always good to connect with those dudes. RZA is a genius in my book. That dude came out with a brand of sound and made it escalate to the point where it’s considered legend to this day and classic. To see what he’s doing now with movie scoring, acting in front of the camera, that dude is brilliant to me. It’s always an honor to even be in the presence of him and more or less working with him on a project. We’ll be doing more things in the near future too, just to give you a heads up. I didn’t actually see him put the track together because the track was already done when I got there and he pretty much let me be to myself so I can be creative with the verse I laid on the song. He’s a real laid back type of dude and he’s quiet. Those be the creative ones from my understanding and my experience with Dr. Dre. he’s kind of quite. A lot of dudes are laid back that got their craft together because they’re more thinkers than talkers.

WHO?MAG: How is your writing process?
KOOL G RAP: I listen to track. I kind of let the track tell me where to take it flow wise or concept wise. I used to be only a night person, like I would only want to write at nighttime, but now I write at nighttime, daytime, whatever. I’ll write from 6am to the time I go to sleep. I write at home, in the studio. I did a lot of features with different artists so I had to learn to be Johnny on the spot and be good at the same time. That was a big challenge for me in my career. Learning to be Johnny on the spot and be good because a lot of people, if it’s a feature, they’re doing. They like to take the track home and vibe with it for a while, kind of not rush which is good because you don’t want to rush something and don’t come out as good as it could possibly come out as would have given it a little more time and thought process. I was getting so many features at one time, I didn’t have choice but to go in the studio the same day and knock it out. That’s how I did on the feature I did on the Mobb Deep album Murda Muzik. They called me and said “we got the time and day G”. I ran up there. Prodigy and I wrote our verses together.

WHO?MAG: How did you hook up with AZ for the song that you did with him?
KOOL G RAP: I called AZ up. He was there with no problem. He’s just regular; nobody get in nobodies way when it comes to being an artist. When AZ came through to do the song for me, he sat down in front of the console and just vibed. I let him vibe. We did a little talking here and there, but he’s dude that takes his craft serious so he wasn’t running around joking and playing and doing everything else but what he was supposed to do. Dude came to the studio and went right to work . I gave him the breathing space to do that. He didn’t come in with a 100 dudes or nothing like that. It was maybe him and one person. Whoever he came with, they felt back and let him do what he do.

WHO?MAG: How did you hook up with DJ Muggs for the song Real Life off the Soul Assassins II album?
KOOL G RAP: I think I was in Cutting Room studios. DJ Muggs was in there. I had come in a session when Muggs was just about to leave a session. I was coming in the session in the same room. We bumped heads and before he bounced he was like “yo G, I want to get you on something”. I basically started doing it right there on the spot for him. I remembered the first Soul Assassins, Mobb Deep had a record on there and a few other people. That album was hot. I remember hearing it and I loved it. I was excited to be a part of the Soul Assassins II jump off. We made that happen and that was basically it. He called to shot a video to the song and I went out there to California. When he did the track, he already had it made. Once again, it’s another situation where I wasn’t around to see the dude formulate and put the track together. It was already done. That’s how it is most of the time when people call me to do features or guest appearances. The track is already made. It wasn’t like they put something together in the studio with me. I see that when I’m working on my own album, I get to live with the other artists a little more.

WHO?MAG: What happened with the whole situation with Rawkus? Why didn’t they put out the album?
KOOL G RAP: What happened with Rawkus was they lost their financial backing and distributor. They were contractually bounded to release Kool G Rap through a major. If they lost their major label distribution at the time, they couldn’t release my album. Those dudes had to scuffle and scurry to try to get a whole different situation which was in their best interest anyway because they needed to operate their label still. I had to wait till them dudes put a whole different situation together because they didn’t have Priority anymore and they didn’t have Ruport Murdoch group financially backing behind them no more. They had to replace all that and try to make it happen overnight. I think it landed them in a not so great situation with MCA records. Now neither one of them labels exists too tough these days. MCA and Rawkus records is not around.

WHO?MAG: How did you hook with Dr. Butcher and why didn’t he ever become your official DJ instead of DJ Polo? No disrespect to DJ Polo.
KOOL G RAP: Dr. Butcher were homies before I even started making records. But [DJ] Polo was the man that brought me in. When I got introduced to Polo and he took me to Marley Marl’s house, it became DJ Polo and Kool G Rap. Later on it got switched up to Kool G Rap and DJ Polo, which was childish over who’s name came first. (laughs) I don’t even know why we made it an issue. I guess that was just a young thing in me or whatever. Butcher was still my homie, even though Polo had brought me in the game, but I could not give Polo the scissors and put Dr. Butcher in Polo’s position. That’s why it was never a Dr. Butcher and Kool G Rap instead of DJ Polo and Kool G Rap.

WHO?MAG: But Dr. Butcher did do the cuts on “Men at Work” and other records, right?
KOOL G RAP: Yeah, yeah! Definitely Butcher would come and do cuts on certain records and stuff like that. I said his name on a lot of stuff too, to kind of let people know I got 2 DJs. He just wasn’t of Kool G Rap and DJ Polo as a group. He did cuts on “Men at Work”, “Talk like Sex”, and few other records. Mainly the early albums mostly the first and second album. Mainly the second album, Dr. Butcher was present during the making of the album and all that. I haven’t spoken to Butcher in years. I heard he’s living in Texas and doing real good. Blessings to that dude.

WHO?MAG: Of all your albums which is your favorite and why?
KOOL G RAP: : I think Roots of Evil is one of my favorite albums because I had so much fun doing that album. That album to me is more like putting a movie together than an album because of all the skits we did and all the story lines we had and so many things on the album. It’s just so visual. It’s like seeing a movie. You got “Hitman Diary” which is visual song. You can pretty much see what I’m talking about. The “Kill of Sunrise”, that’s definitely visual. Mobsters I made a story with all the gangsters from back in the days. The Rolling 20’s days, The Bosses Lady. That to me was a real hot conceptual song.

WHO?MAG: How did you hook up with Akineyle for the song “Break a Bitch Neck”?
KOOL G RAP: Akineyle and I were already homies. I helped Akineyle get a situation with Cold Chillin’ Records. Akineyle is one of most elusive dudes that I have ever known. I say elusive meaning that he would go into contract with one company and the next week he would be on a contract with a totally different one with a new company. He was elusive to a lot of corporations. (laughs) I actually helped him get his first situation that was with Cold Chillin’ Records. He’s a smart business dude . He got a better situation with Interscope records and finagled his way out of the contract with Cold Chillin’. I helped get his foot in the door in the rap game. He just called me up to come knock out that record. I think we already had a version of that record on a different track, but he wanted to record a version for the album. We just got together and made it happen.

WHO?MAG: I heard you were supposed to do something with The Game. Did it ever materialize?
KOOL G RAP: We’re trying to make something happen. We’re in the midst of putting something together.

WHO?MAG: How did that connect with Dr. Dre happen? That’s something I think nobody know about.
KOOL G RAP: I was in Cali one time and Dre found out I was out there, basically through a mutual party which I forgot who it actually was right now. He invited me out to his house. I came out his house. They invited us to the studio another day. Then we linked. Dre and my management started talking. We were getting ready to do something with Dr. Dre, but it never really transpired. I think at the time, that he was in the midst of leaving Death Row and really getting Aftermath on it’s legs, but it wasn’t quite there yet. I think that’s why the situation didn’t really go down, because Dre’s not a person that he’s going to call you to want to do something, then change his mind overnight, because Dre don’t want to rock with you, he’s not going to even call you. Dre only messes with projects that he’s feeling from the gate. For him to sit at the table with G Rap and say we’re going to do this. I make moves on my end so we can do it. Then the situation went down the tubes like that without the situation being inked. I know it probably wasn’t a good time for him.

WHO?MAG: How did “The Symphony” come about? Was there any beef between you and Kane?
KOOL G RAP: That was basically dude told me I had to go to Marley’s house to do something. I didn’t know exactly what they wanted me to do. I went there and I see Masta Ace, Craig G there. After a while Big Daddy Kane show’s up. I saw Ace and Craig G laying vocals on something. We’re supposed to do this record off this sample with a piano loop. To be honest, I didn’t really like the piano loop at first. It had to grow on me. Nah, there was no beef.

WHO?MAG: When you think back on your legacy the impact you’ve had, how does it make you feel?
KOOL G RAP: Ah man! It makes me feel proud that to this day, even young dudes that are coming up that are incredible lyricists. I’m not talking about the young dudes that come up and they’re only hot for a minute, then they’re nobody 3 or 4 years later and never be considered legends. I’m talking about the new up and coming legends in the making. It’s good to see them recognize that it started to happen 22 years ago. Some of them probably weren’t even here yet. Some probably just got here around that time. To see them come up and know the G Rap legacy and what G Rap stands for and they still tip their hats because they know a nigga still bring it on a current level, that’s blessing.