KOOL G RAP LIVE @ 2Funky Music Cafe, Leicester UK June 28, 2017

REVIEW BY MICHAEL GRANT, C.E.O. of RePPiN4U

1992: I was but a 12-year-old. Missed an entire year of secondary education. The stories about my cousin’s cassette tapes, are legendary. To my knowledge he still has them. A lot of tunes I used to rock to but never knew who the artists were and it wasn’t all the time I was exposed to Yo! MTV Raps. Ill Street Blues was one of those tunes. The man responsible was in the UK in 1992, rocked every crowd possible, left, and was not seen in the UK again….

UNTIL NOW.

Kool G Rap Live2017: ‘Mumble Rap’ reigned supreme. Grime is misunderstood in America as UK Hip Hop, some fans just couldn’t give a DAMN despite Kendrick’s continuous effects to push boundaries, while others were stuck in 2001 playing Ether while sleeping at 4:44am. This has called for the Don himself to return, your rapper’s favourite rapper, the man who Nas said wrote the Hip Hop bible. The people of Leicester and surrounding areas came together to witness history. Kool G Rap, new album in tow, rocking the UK for the first time in 25 years.

The 2Funky Music Cafe’s strategy of exposing as much local talent as possible are a bit hit & miss. The show started with a Polish Hip Hop group whose name I didn’t quite catch unfortunately, A lot of what they performed was in their respective language and whatever they were saying in their lyrics – they meant it. Massive props go out to them as the UK continues to become more multi cultural and those who support Brexit for the wrong reasons cannot stop the power of Hip Hop.

Trademark Blud followed alongside DJ Tricksta and dropped an impressive 20 minute set. His ferocious delivery over tongue in cheek like beats and political subject matter left the crowd wishing he could have been on a little longer. If an opening act gives you that feeling, you are going places.

Leicester’s own Shakezpeare & DJ Roll Blunt were determined to top Trademark Blud’s performance, and They did. Even with sound check problems which Shakezpeare easily overcame by dropping hot freestyles like a professional, and that is what Hip Hop is about, to be able to adapt in any situation. His mission was a simple one – make sure his performance was so on point that no one apart from G Rap could follow him. Were Galaxy High from Sweden up for the challenge?

This is the part where I shed sympathy for Galaxy High, what I saw were two talented emcees who struggled to keep the crowd rocking which brings me to my point earlier: Too many opening acts may have been hit or miss, or maybe Galaxy High were positioned wrong in the line up sequence, or maybe the crowd were just ready for G Rap, it was the middle of the week, some may have had to commute the following morning, maybe 4 opening acts might be overkill. It is understandable in one aspect, keeping the crowd waiting for the main event for too long can also be a disadvantage.

15 minutes before G Rap took the stage, it was up to DJ Anthony Mace to set it, and it doesn’t start any better with a series of Mobb Deep tracks to remember Prodigy. The time when G Rap finally jumped on stage was the time the show was scheduled to finish according to Facebook which proves when it comes to gigs you cannot believe what Facebook says by gospel.

Performing the biggest tracks like ‘Take Em to War’, ‘Ill Street Blues’, ‘Streets Of New York’ & ‘Fast Life,’ the Don showed he never lost it. He takes time out to remember Prodigy in his own way by performing ‘The Realest’, in which Prodigy featured, and G Rap reveals a true story on stage of how Prodigy impacted him.

 

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Photo courtesy of @Kip1979_kipp on twitter

An interesting moment was when G Rap performed ‘First N!&&@’. Many of us know the DJ Premier produced version but on this night the Dr.Dre version was blasting through 2Funky Music Cafe’s airwaves before a capacity crowd.

 

The Don closes out his 45 minute set with one of his newest singles from the Return Of the Don album – Wise Guys which features Freeway and Lil Fame of M.O.P. The crowd response was greater than I imagined, as usually a predominately 90s Hip Hop orientated crowd look a bit confused and unfamiliar, but that was not the case here.

Admittedly Kool G Rap was not on my essential ‘see live’ list but looking at it in

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Photo courtesy of @Kip1979_kipp on twitter

retrospect, I’m glad I did see him live. Leicester saw history before their very eyes on this night, and G Rap’s time was yours – he embraced his fans and engaged in full conversation after the show, taking pictures and signing memorabilia, even with Prodigy’s memorial service which took place the following day.

 

Massive respect and salutations to The NGE (New Golden Era) massive and crew for looking out for a brother. They are some good dudes right there, just don’t front on them! Last person who did that got BLAOW! In their mouth corner! Others talk about it while they live it and that’s the Hip Hop we support over here.

Take a bow Kool G Rap! He’s Out For That Life!

 

GHOSTFACE KILLAH – 36 Seasons

Around here things change with the seasons. And 36 Seasons is a long time.

ghostface-killah-36-seasonsReally…? Try 84 Seasons. That’s a VERY long time. Confused? You should be…. 21 years after the first Wu-Tang Album, hip hop’s most influential crew releases their ‘anniversary’ album, A Better Tomorrow. The project was met with mixed opinions from fans, half were saying it is a grown, progressive album. The other half, hoping for that 90s, basement like traditional Wu-Tang sound and didn’t get it, declaring it as disappointing. Chef Raekwon was the most concerned during the albums development, but he finally agreed to be a part of it, and even pushed his own album back to make sure he saw A Better Tomorrow.

Ghostface Killah cared not for that, he did the opposite, just like a Ghost, no one saw him coming. Ghost drops a new album one week after the Clan, and fans quickly compared it to A Better Tomorrow. That’s a mistake. You CANNOT compare 36 Seasons to A Better Tomorrow. That’s like comparing a single chicken wing to a full KFC family bucket.

This is the Wallabee Champ’s 11th Studio Album, released on Tommy Boy. Ghostface’s storytelling techniques have grown and progressed to a level where he is near untouchable, from Tearz on 36 Chambers, to the Source Award winning Hip Hop quotable on Wu-Tang Forever’s ‘Impossible’, to the conceptual R&B inspired ‘Ghostdini’, to the Adrian Younge/Apollo Brown endorsed ’12 Reasons To Die’. This new conceptual album, produced entirely by The Revelations who were responsible for the clan’s side projects – Wu-Tang Chamber Music & Legendary Weapons, has raised the bar in so many ways it is unreal.

As soon as the album start, those classic soulful sonics hit the listener right in the heart. After 9 long years, Tony Starks has returned from The Battlefield. Did he really think that things would stay the same after all that time? Yes he was THE MAN, but during his absence, Kool G Rap  who plays the kingpin is now running the streets, and AZ who plays Rog, a friend of Tony’s, has become a man upholding the law. Starks just wants to see his bamboo. He better hope and pray that she’s in, because she could have relocated in that time.

Luckily for Starks, Penelope (Kandace Springs) was still around, unluckily for Starks, she had moved on too. Sorry Ghost, a woman has needs too! Penelope has a new man, and ‘Love Don’t Live Here No More’, the first single from the album. If this soulful track doesn’t have the listener zoning out and feeling the emotion both artists put in this… they might as well hand in their RZA Chambers headphones.

In ‘Here I Go Again’, Starks reunites with his long time friend Rog (AZ). AZ wants Starks to help him be rid of the corrupt behaviour in the streets. Normal circumstances Ghost wouldn’t do that, but Rog & Starks go way back.

What’s fascinating about ‘Loyalty’ is that something happens here that hasn’t happened in a clan album since Ironman… a track that does not feature Ghostface himself. Here the Kingpin (G Rap) is seen politicking with his right hand man (Nems) plotting to rid Stapelton of the man who has returned after 9 years… funny how biting wasn’t allowed in hip hop 20 years ago and here we are with Nems actually flipping the Chef’s lines from C.R.E.A.M.

The Revelations cover of ‘Thin Line of Love and Hate’ is a wonderful rendition of The Persuaders 1971 original. If this track was on a different Ghost album such as ‘The Pretty Toney Album’ or ‘Fishscale’, we may have seen Ghost rhyme over this, but it was clearly not needed here. Such a strong message to men not to mess their good women around, eventually she will switch on you when you least expect.

Interlude over, back into ‘The Dogs of War’…featuring a returning Shawn Wigs from Theodore Unit playing as Ghost’s right hand man Money Miggs, they go to battle with the Kingpin…but it’s the award-winning verse from G Rap that is sure to be Source Hip Hop Quotable worthy describing his confrontation: “The n!**@ hit his mark right on top of my heart (aw, damn)/
My whole chest went numb and the pain got sharp (down)/Fell face down on the ground, saw the Timberland mark/He bopped, swingin’ the gun like a pendulum arm/The silencer on the sh!t was like a Michelin part/Then everything faded out, became of victim of Starks…”

Ghost, victorious from the battle, finds himself scarred from the explosion, is on the brink of death. Trust in Money Miggs to find the one they call Dr X (Pharoahe Monch) to carry out the ‘Emergency Procedure’. Ghost makes a superb comparison to his favourite comic book superhero. The Marvel comic book counterpart was given components to keep his injured heart beating, staying true to Ironman. Dr X hooks him up with a special gas mask to keep him alive, even keeping him immune to Ebola. Starks doesn’t die so easy…he’s not sweating a lawsuit that he lost recently.

Now everything seems to be back to normal for Starks…. or so it seems. After all Rog (AZ) is law enforcement…. crooked to go with it too, hits the ‘Double Cross’, and gets him thrown in jail. Little does Rog know…

Does love still live??? What made Penelope bail him out? Kandace Springs’ character has doubts creeping through as sheKandace Springs wonders if she made a mistake in ‘Bamboo’s Lament’. Her beautiful vocals shows Ghost still has that good ear from 20 years ago.

Sometimes you gotta figure out the ‘Pieces to the Puzzle’. Once great friends, now sworn enemies, and they know their confrontation cannot be avoided. AZ’s character realises this when he learns that Penelope bailed Starks out. Worse still, Ghost figures out the man Penelope dissed him for turns out to be Rog… you know the Jamaican saying: “Never trust yuh fren, your fren dem turn dem back pon yuh!” That’s what my Grandma always used to tell me…

Nems is looking for revenge after what Starks did to the Kingpin… problem is, Starks is out for revenge too, and Nems doesn’t know about the gas mask….it’s not looking good in this ‘Homicide’, and now the confrontation is at hand as finally Starks goes mano o mano with Rog… there will be ‘Blood on the Streets’, AZ’s character compares the rivalry with Starks to Pac & Biggie.

Seems like love still lives after all… In ‘Call My Name’, the community congratulates the masked avenger for cleaning up the streets, it seems that everyone gets a second chance, including Penelope. After all, 36 Seasons was a long time, and the instrumental for ‘I Love You For All Seasons’ serves as the outro, and has the listener picturing a happy ending and the credits rolling on their screens….

…because that’s exactly what this album was; a short film by Ghostface Killah, pictured so vividly and has the listener so immersed in the story. This is storytelling taken to a whole new level, with the album’s guests serving as a character role, which is genius. It doesn’t stop there, the album also comes with a set of instrumentals… so that heads can get their pen & pad on. Ghost & The Revelations didn’t have to do that, but they did. The album also came with its comic book inlay, so the listener can follow the story as they absorb the album.

I’m not sure if it’s me, or there’s a pattern emerging with Ghostface Killah, he is the most consistent of the 10-man juggernaut, when the clan release an album, give or take a year, the reigning, defending Supreme Clientele champion pulls out an exceptional project. Going back to Only Built 4 Cuban Linx… Ghost had always said that this is a stepping stone to where he gotta go… could he mean film directing? Is that in his future? Is he gonna follow the Abbott himself?

36 Seasons cover photo

GOTHAM GREEN – Cross Island Expressway Ft. Kool G Rap & Nature

Child of an ImmigrantIt’s refreshing to hear a NY rapper come with some fresh new heat without having to complain about hip hop’s current direction, and does what he does best, focusses on what he does best.

In the case of Gotham Green, he teams up with veterans Kool G Rap & Nature on the powerful new single – Cross Island Expressway. The three take on real life stories from the real and explain what you would do in that situation hence the song’s title, including a disturbing scenario: “shorty on the corner prolly made more than his pops/he don’t understand the risk/he just run from the cops/I seen this pregnant girl stabbed right in the gut/baby daddy didn’t care/and he ain’t give a f**k/I looked at her like ‘damn I wished I could help/this sh!t is rough/she looked back/her eyes spoke/said I can’t do much…”

Listen to the K-Salaam & Beatnick produced track below after the jump:

Featured on the album ‘Child of an Immigrant’ which features a plethora of artists like Jojo Pelligrino, Wax, Marika, Jes Hudak and Hit Screwface, boasting production credits from Quickie Mart, Josh the Goon, Blessed by the Beats, DJ Hush, Rob Victum & Twigg, Gotham Green explains his assembly: “I grew up in New York during a time where lyrics and talent ruled hip hop,” says Gotham. “As a result, I gravitated towards artists who could verbally amaze listeners such as myself. Two artists I admired for their lyrical prowess were Kool G Rap & Nature. As I was beginning to work on Child Of An Immigrant I put together a list of artists I would want on the project. When both KGR & Nature’s name appeared on that list, it was only natural to put both rap titans on the same song.”

Child of an Immigrant is out now. If you like what you heard thus far, be sure to cop that!!!

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