The Godfather trilogy stands the test of time as one of the true classics of Mafioso-inspired entertainment. Aside from the violence and the start power, what made the movies special was the craft. the focus and the energy and painstaking detail spent to bring out the authenticity of the movie. James Caan isn’t even Italian, but damn if you didn’t buy him as Sonny Corleone. Hip-Hop is much the same, you truly attain legendary status when you create vivid worlds that feel unimpeachable to the average listener. Kool G Rap stands as the progenitor of the crime rhyme lyricist. Yes there were some who kicked the gangster shit, but before G. Rap, none of them were lyricists of the first order. As Hip-Hop has grown, the number of street rappers with Kool G Rap in their DNA is astounding as far as a family tree goes. Nas. Big Pun. Raekwon.
In 2013, Kool G Rap dropped the Once Upon A Crime LP along with Necro, progenitor of death rap and yes, another scion of the style Kool G invented. This interview was done before the release of the album, on a Friday night until one in the morning. It overwhelmed me trying to transcribe it and I didn”t trust that transcription in anyone else’s hands. It is my hope that you guys enjoy it and that they forgive me for the delay. The review was on time and you can read it at your leisure. For now, here is the first installment of Godfathers, The Interview. Enjoy.
Planet Ill: Godfather. That’s a powerful statement…
Kool G Rap: Absolutely. I think it’s’ a well-deserved statement. On both our parts. We’re not saying that we’re Godfathers of everybody in the game; we’re saying we’re Godfathers of our craft. Being lyrical, being witty; wordplay, things of that nature. That’s why I say it’s a well-deserved statement.
Necro: Basically, the Godfathers idea, the word was from the perspective of G Rap being the Godfather of Gangster rap and everybody recognizing that when it comes to anything that is street related, G is the first dude that really embraced Scarface and a lot of culture that was gangster stuff and did not evolve in Hip-Hop yet, really. G took it deeper. The first dude that really mentioned John Gotti and overall the lifestyle that a lot of kids in the hood even embraced, G was the first platform that you really seen in Hip-Hop rocking that. Very groundbreaking when you look back on it because everybody played their role, Run DMC, all these dudes did their thing, but G was speaking to the kids in the hood that might have really been going through some real street stuff.
Him being the Godfather makes sense. Most people know that though. G has been saluted by everybody so it’s not like a new kid. There’s a lot of kids right now that started listening to Hip-Hop; they might not know Kool G Rap as the Godfather. They’re just not aware of Hip-Hop and they might not know of the legend I grew up on. Because you’re getting a whole new generation of kids coming up now that think Necro is old. And I feel like I’m a fucking little baby. I killed it for a decade basically. And G, obviously is three to four decades. But after you kill it for a decade you’re going to get kids ten years younger and they’re going to think whoever came out in 2010 is the fire.
When I threw myself in with Godfathers I see myself as a Godfather of the style called Death Rap, which I pretty much invented because people don’t really rock that term, in general. Usually “I’m gangsta rap, I’m hard, this and that.” Nobody ever really said, “I’m doing Death Rap.” You had people using the term horror core but I never like that. I didn’t think that was really a respectable genre it was something that supposedly Russell Simmons created and then kinda crapped on because his little nephew didn’t do that well. A lot of corny artists get associated with that, you know? I kinda viewed what I was doing as in the lane with being a student of G. Rap, same as Nas, Prodigy, Pun and anyone that rhymes lyrical on the East Coast is a student of G. Rap. And then I was just kind of just pushing the boundaries because I have influence from Death Metal and me being a ki8d that at the same time I’ listening to G.Rap, Kane, Rakim, KRS, I’m rocking Metallica, Slayer. That stuff.
In the underground Hip-Hop spectrum, I get credit for being the Godfather of just straight up brutal shit. The whole concept was, shit, if G. Rap would agree to it we’d get into a project. I didn’t overthink it.
G.Rap: Of Course
Necro: If G would’ve been like, “Nah son, I ain’t really feeling that, we need to come up with another name,” I would have gone with whatever G. Rap wanted to do. Because G. Rap gets hierarchy over this. He’s on that level where any of us gotta cater to what he wanted to do, in my opinion. That’s the way I roll. I respect my elders. So he was cool with it and he saw the vision. That’s how we agreed to rock with the Godfathers concept and I don’t really think we was doing shit like a movie. At first, we wasn’t thinking oh Godfathers, Italian Mafia movie. The term was relating to our styles. And as we got into the project, we made a decision to actually jump into that for like four or five joints where we did do some shit that is Mafia-like because G wanted to do it; I hadn’t really thought of it. And then he kind of put the bug in my ear. I kind of look at it like it was G’s realm and I wasn’t really going to hop in it really unless G wanted to and once he wanted to, he had me writing shit like that. And that was kinda flavor.
Kool G Rap: To pick up where Necro left off, when we got into the real depth of the album, I was like, we got the title Godfathers, so we gotta take it there on a few tracks where we bring it to that Mafioso approach because it only makes sense. Even though that wasn’t really the objective to steer it in that direction from the title, but since it goes hand in hand, it makes no sense to avoid that direction, if that’s the title. We had to bring it on the Mafioso angle to make everything make sense and to make it complete. But the whole album is not Mafioso, but we had to put a few sprinkles in there.
Necro: Not a lot of people do that style so it wasn’t like, “Oh, we doing it now and everyone does it.” Really, G is the king of that. He was the first one to mention a lot of Mafioso names and was bigging up dudes, like “Machine Gun Kelly, four across the belly.” No one was really rhyming like that. G could say something like that and it created a crazy picture. It’s funny cause there’s a rapper named that now but G Rap dropped Machine Gun Kelly in like 1990. Nobody was doing that. He’s the first. Especially when you look at joints like On The Run.
Nobody painted a picture of that. A black dude? That’s robbing the mob? That’s crazy! That’s like a Blaxploitation movie Dolemite Meets Truck Turner. In its own way though. In its own way, it was actually more serious. Because a lot of that shit was goofy. This shit was a serious thing. He straight up killed a whole mob family in that video, “shooting crazy Guineas in the neck.”
Planet Ill: And all these years later, Ghostface has 12 Reasons To Die, and he’s going up against the Mafia…
Planet Ill: [G.Rap] You kinda got away from Jive Talk. Is there any phrase flipping on the album?
Kool G Rap: I don’t think I’ve changed anything but I was always an artist that constantly evolved. And maybe that’s why I’m still able to adapt and have an interest level at the point where it might not be the same sales as this one or that one or even myself when I first came out because there was a whole totally different game then. And Hip-Hop was exploding at that time so it was a time and it was a lot more interest in Hip Hop. And it wasn’t not in its infancy, but like its toddler ages. So it was crazy exciting and when artists like me, Rakim, Kane, KRS-One came out, it was different from the cats that preceded us because it seemed like we was the artists that took it to the next level now.
Necro: In my opinion, I feel that that level hasn’t really been outdone. You don’t really hear dudes coming out now that are rapping punchlines iller than Kane. You don’t hear dudes doing multi-syllabic rhymes iller than G. Rap. Sure you might have an Eminem or Canibus or even a Necro or a Pun but you don’t hear it and go, “Oh, he’s iller than G.” You hear it and go he’s influenced by G.
Kool G Rap: It’s like a blueprint was created down in that Golden Age era that it could be twenty years later you’re not going to escape out of that blueprint and just create another one because it’s either the blueprint of G Rap, Rakim Kane or KRS One. It’s like any advanced lyricist coming out even today, you’re a root fo our blueprint.
Necro: And I don’t even hear anything that’s coming crazier than that. I’m real up on shit. The progression from that point, I think every culture reaches a progression. There was something about Metal, when Metal came back in the 80’s and there was a certain level of Metal, Metallica first dropped in ‘83. They got so progressive in ‘86 when Metallica dropped Master of Puppets and then like certain bands, cause I’m up on death metal and I’m from that world as well, the progression that a band would do from like literally 84 to 86, like Slayer went from like 85 to 86 with Reign in Blood, produced by Rick Rubin. The progression was so insane.
From Run DMC to the shit G Rap was doing? I mean DMC said it himself. He said how the fuck did dudes go from what we’re doing to these dues rhyming Amity- ville, kill at will? That’s the blueprint for dudes that want to rhyme now! The illest anybody might get is Eminem rhymes on [mimic’s Eminem]. You can’t even go any further really than what G Rap or Kane or Rakim did. Them dudes took it to that point where any possible things that you can do has kind of been done and it’s like Bruce Lee. They laid down the Kung Fu. All you can really do is build off the Kung Fu.
G Rap to me is a mix of Bruce Lee, Muhammad Ali, Scorcese, Morgan Freeman, Sidney Poitier, Denzel, anyone who really fucking murders it. The rest of us, we’re up-and-comers. People are fronting if they ever try to act like shit ain’t real on that level. Hip-Hop is very disrespectful. As a culture it doesn’t fucking salute properly. The magazines, everything is about next. Nah, it’s not about next, man. How could you do a next when a due like G Rap’s 45 and all of a sudden it’s next for a 20 year old? Right now it should be all about awards. He should be getting rewards out the ass for everything.
Planet Ill: Run DMC said all brand new, never ever old school so that kind of looking for next has always been there…
Necro: Respect your elders is a hood thing, though. If you’re in the streets you either respect OG’s or you get slapped up. You can’t walk around popping shit; you’ll get punched in the face by a 40 year old. That’s street shit, in general, you gotta respect your elders. The game it seems is quick to act like if you’re not selling brand new records…come on we know the game is fucked up because it’s corporately run to have you in a brand new deal and have you pimped so they can make money. How does that part of the game actually have to do with you being a legend that fucking changed the game?
Planet Ill: You started out in the 80s and to see your career still sustainable at this point, how does that feel to be around after all these people came and left?
Kool G Rap: I don’t take nothing for granted my man.