Το Vibe Rated και ο John Pikpas κάλεσαν το θρύλο του Hip Hop, Kool G Rap και αυτός ανταποκρίθηκε. Διαβάστε τη συνέντευξη του καλλιτέχνη που μεταμόρφωσε ένα ολόκληρο μουσικό είδος.
Welcome to our site. It is an honor for us to host a legendary artist like you, at Vibe Rated today. Where has Kool G Rap been lately? What are your upcoming plans?
Hey, it's your boy G Rap, thanks for having me. G Rap has been putting projects together, you know what I'm saying which is this album, Riches, Royalty & Respect as well as the EP Offer You Can’t Refuse. My plan is to drop the album this year, 2011, and just do what I do. This is what I'm known to do, and this is what I'll do.
Starting a career back in 1986, you experienced Hip Hop in different chronological shifts. According to your opinion, what is the most vivid era of this culture? What were the changes that Hip Hop went through, all these years?
I think hip hop went through a few changes. I mean, it went from pretty much the grass roots of it to becoming multi-dimensional. It's like different spectrums of it now, you have your mainstream, you got your underground, you got your hardcore... I think it's just different vibes, different feelings. The hardcore is pretty much more grass rooted because, you know, hip hop started in the streets so that is why that is going to be the foundation and essence of it.
The mainstream is a part of hip hop as well. But when I say mainstream, I don't necessarily mean anything that can be classified as a sellout, or anything like that. I just talk about hip hop recordings that go crazy on the radio, that become mainstream hits. That's a part of hip hop too, because yeah, groups like Run DMC, Fat Boys, LL Cool J and so many others, definitely had those mainstream hits.The changes it went through, it went from -when I started- a New York street thing to a national thing to an international thing. It crossed racial barriers, cultural divisions; it crossed all over different barriers. It is one of the music genres that was able to come in and last for so long. You look at Disco, I mean, they maybe had a three-four year run, at best. You look at the funk sound, it came in and went right out. But hip hop has been here and going on for thirty, forty years.
It's definitely one of the music genres that came and had a staying power and this is one of the main things that makes hip hop a force to be reckoned with, as well as Rock, you know what I mean? Hip hop came right in and took its rightful place, right next to rock music, because rock is another thing that has been around for such a long time.
Mr. Shapiro once mentioned that you worked as a "progenitor", for artists like Nas, Jay Z and the Notorious BIG. How do you feel about that? How would you describe the "Kool G Rap" legacy?
If you mean if I was an influence to Naz, Jay-Z and BIG, I mean, Nas has mentioned that on multiple occasions, Jay-Z makes reference to me, in recordings, interviews and what-not. And I heard Notorious Big do the same, as far as interviews; I heard he made references to Kool G Rap on a couple of occasions, or whatever.
The way I would describe the G Rap legacy is, the rap artist that pushed the street-style form of rap into the forefront. There's always a discrepancy on who started gangsta rap, some people say G Rap, some say Ice-T, Easy E or NWA. I think all of us started fairly early. In all actuality, I think Ice-T was the first who came up with a record that spread in its popularity, with his Rhyme Pays record. When I came out, with Road to the Riches, it was the same sort of street-oriented [rap], but I took it a little further, I believe. You know, for those people that know the record from Ice-T and people that know all these records that I named from G Rap, I'm saying that they're definitely similar as far as relating to the street life... but they are different.
I could say that the Ice-T record did come out first and most props to Ice-T, a really cool dude and a person that I met when I first started at the game, that treated me good, so a big shout to Ice-T. I think g rap made more of an impact with that because I think I kept it less commercial -and so did artists like Easy E- and more to the streets. Because records like Road To The Riches weren't records that got ridiculous radio play, but the streets gravitated to them. I could say that G Rap Legacy could be described as one of the pioneers or one of the forefathers for street-oriented rap. And that's basically where I'll leave it at.
What was your inspiration when you started with DJ Polo, back in the late 80’s? How has music affected you as a person and as an artist?
My inspiration when I started with Polo was just, me wanting to be an artist in the game. I mean, that was my inspiration. I already had this inspiration before I met Polo, when I met Polo, that was something I wanted to do.
I mean hip hop music became a part of me, it became my life. I fell in love with hip hop to that degree, to that level. When I was younger, I didn't want to do anything else but music and I pursued it. It became more important than school, it became more important than anything else and that's probably why I started at a young age. My first record came out when I was 18 years of age, so that pretty much is self-explanatory.
You worked with pioneers like Marley Marl and the Juice Crew. Hypothetically, if a freestyle battle between you and Rakim or Big Daddy Kane took place, what would be the outcome?
If a battle happened between me and Rakim or Big Daddy Kane, it would just be great for hip hop, for these three legends to go at it. For three people who are credited for being the most influential rappers of their time, and outside of their time. I mean, people refer to Rakim as one of the best who have ever done it or the best who have ever done it. And the same thing with Kane. And then you're gonna have people who feel the same about G Rap but most of the time, we end up in the same list. Like, people that know Rakim's body of work or Big Daddy Kane's body of work will usually know the G Rap body of work, as well. You know, because these were the prominent names at that time, as far as lyricists.
But what do I think would happen in a freestyle battle? I think it would be a serious showdown, because these are three names of artists that are on top of their game. And I don't know, I just think it would be interesting to a lot of people and all three names would come across extremely hard. It will probably be of the most memorable highlights of hip hop, in general.
Your lyrical style contains heavy narrations, usually crime oriented. How did this style come up? Do you, by any chance, read crime fiction?
My style of narrative -and things of that nature-, came from the influence of artists like Marley Marl, how he would always narrate the streets or narrate a world condition. I kinda got that passion for rapping in that form and was very influenced by Melle Mel, with songs like The Message. Another song, I can't remember the name right now, was a real narrative song about world conditions. I kinda got that passion for rapping in that form, I was very influenced by Melle Mel. I don't read police stories and stuff like that, it is just a part of me, it's just who I am. Outside of just being a rapper or lyricist, I'm also a writer so that's where it comes from as well.
How do you see hip hop nowadays? Are there any artists out there that you consider decent?
Yeah, I do, there are artists out there I do consider decent and some even beyond decent. I give a lot of credit to those who are on top on their game and that would be artists like Joell Ortiz, Crooked I, Vinnie Paz. I do not know enough or haven't heard enough from some artists who are more recent and that people are giving a lot of credit to. I haven't heard enough of them to give a proper judgement on how I feel about them, as artists.
There is a huge debate on who is actually the best rapper alive. What does Kool G Rap think?
It's hard because it always boils down to a matter of preference. You know, some people feel that Tupac fits in that category, some people think that Biggie fits in that category. But then you got die-hard fans of other artists like Scarface and Ice Cube, Rakim and Big Daddy Kane and KRS-One. It depends on what the listener appreciates the most. Some may appreciate passion; that would be Tupac, all day and every day. Some people appreciate an artist who can put them in deep thought, like Rakim and Nas. Or delivery, with Kane being the prime candidate for that, how he came across, his voice and his presence.
It all boils down to a matter of opinion and preference and if it boils down to wordplay and playing with words, G Rap would enter that list and be a prime candidate for that. So, it all boils down to preference, that's basically what it is.
Beyond music, how do you handle your creativity? Are there any other forms of artistic expression with which you have been involved?
I don't handle my creativity, for the most part it handles me. It's a zone and a vibe you get into and that's when creativity mostly takes over. I mean, I can handle it at times and put myself in a creative state when I have to. Like when an artist wants me to perform on a record or recording of his and I have to show up in the studio or something of that nature. I might not necessarily be a hundred percent in the zone but now that I have to perform for somebody else, I will put myself in the zone and produce a good product, and that's basically it.
Last but not least, send a message to the fans of Kool G Rap in Greece. What’s the first thing that comes into your mind when you hear the word Greece?
To all my fans in Greece, I appreciate the support baby. I would love to get out there and mingle and perform and jump around on stage and run through the classics or some of the new releases. It's something I definitely want to put together in the near future so I'll keep you posted on that. As far as any updates on when that can be possible, just keep tuning to my facebook page or twitter, so just stay tuned baby. I'm right here, on it.