Artist: Kool G Rap
Representing: The Juice Crew, Queens
Independent Album: Half a Klip
411: Here's a little-known Kool G Rap fact: The first verse of "Men at Work" and his guest spot on "The Symphony" were originally written as one long, angst-driven rhyme. Clearly, he was in a zone at the time.
But KGR declares he's even better today than he was in the golden era of rap.
"G Rap is so current, you could mix me up with anybody in 2008 and I'mma sound relevant and up to the times," he said, sitting in his Queens studio.
Although he took a long break from recording, G Rap told us that he isn't done. He just released an EP called Half a Klip with production from DJ Premier, Domingo and Juice Crew partner Marley Marl.
"I'm still working on the project, and it's gonna be the full-length album," he said. "But it's been a long wait. The last thing I did was in 2005. I dropped a mixtape with Whoo Kid. I wanted to hit them with an appetizer to keep the stomach growls alive.
"It's hard, but not hard, because at the same time, I was working," he added about his hiatus. "I must have a collection of 50-60 songs. We're gonna put this Half a Klip out there, let it do what it do, then hit them with the Full Extended Klip.
Joints To Check For
»"With a Bullet." "Me and Marley, the song we did together basically was a throwback rhyme," G Rap explained. "It was a throwback verse I had, something I had with Nas years ago, like '92, '93. ... We have one of the dudes we're working with featured on the song, giving him a little light. They found a verse from somewhere. I don't know how they got it. But there's a lot of people out here that got stuff — you wouldn't believe, that I wouldn't believe — on me."
»"On the Rise Again." "DJ Premier laid a crazy track to it. My man D-Mac, the guy who I'm partnered with, ran into Haylie Duff and got her to blow vocals through the chorus. It's not a whole lot, but it's just right. The way Premier put it together was a masterpiece.
"I heard [Haylie] wasn't really up on Kool G Rap, but her managers and people she worked with schooled her on who Kool G Rap was," he added. "I'm aware of the Duff sisters. Of course, her sister Hilary Duff is a household name. I didn't know her [older] sister did the same thing too. I guess we discovered each other through this project."
»"100 Rounds." "That's just me going in," he said. "Coming out that street mode and putting it in lyric mode. It's traditional G Rap right there."
Don't Sleep: Other Notable Selections This Week
» DJ Drama and La the Darkman - The Notorious L.A.D.
» DJ DVS-1 and DJ 1Mic - The League Leaders
» DJ Diggz - The Hardest Out 2 (Beanie vs. Styles P)
» DJ Smallz - Florida Trafficking
» DJ Woogie and Lloyd Banks - Bank Vault, Pt. 2
'Hood's Heavy Rotation: Bubbling Below The Radar
» Donnie Klang (featuring Diddy) - "Take You There"
» Saigon (featuring Just Blaze) - "Gotta Believe"
» Bishop Lamont (featuring Focus) - "Better Than You"
» Rick Ross (featuring Triple C and J Rock) - "Ridin' Thru the Ghetto"
Fire Starter: Tyga
"Young Moooolah, baaaay-baaaayyyyyy!" Tyga literally has Lil Wayne's Young Money stamp of approval — the young buck has Wayne's label logo tattooed on his arm. The 18-year-old, who sports a Young Money chain as well, met Weezy at the 2007 VMAs, during a performance by Gym Class Heroes. While Wayne thought he was just a hanger-on, Tyga turned out to be Travis McCoy's cousin and an aspiring hip-hop artist. Now thousands of fans on the Net know who he is. His alternative-rap/reggae ode "Coconut Juice" is getting the royal treatment. He just shot a video to it with Fall Out Boy's Pete Wentz (Tyga is signed to Wentz's label Decaydance Records). He's also got "Space Joyridin" and "Exquisite," with Birdman Jr. and Gata, floating around the Internet to set up his debut, No Introduction.
For an album with no release date, no single or even a set list of producers, Nas' LP Nigger is still getting a bunch of people talking about it. While over in England, Chris Brown said he's eagerly awaiting it, just like the rest of us.
"Nas' album [title], that's incredible," he said. "I would just say, Nas is a great MC. He is always going to be a dope lyricist, a legend in my eyes. At the same time, it's all about people's personal opinion. That's his album, so if he wants to call it what he wants to call it, he can call it what he wants to call it. There's always going to be people saying that [it should have] 'Parental Advisory' all the time, and they have their opinions. But my thing is, it's his album, so you either want to buy it or you don't."
The Streets Is Talking: News & Notes From The Underground
50 Cent can admit when he is totally wrong and his gambles don't pay off. For most of last year, he took the advice of Interscope Records and fell back from the mixtape circuit because the label had advised him that it was taking away from his official record sales. That was right around the time DJ Drama and Don Cannon were having issues with the RIAA.
But 50 has made up for lost time in the past six months, releasing three mixtapes since last fall.
"They think I'm crazy," 50 told us last week in his Connecticut mansion, chuckling about what Eminem and Shady Records tell him about giving away so much material for free. "Sometimes [Em] misses why I put it out. He goes, 'Why did you put it out?' But I can't be as hot as I'm gonna be if I don't play around. I gotta spar before I go fight the champ. That's my concept of it. If I don't go out and make material and lock in, I'm not gonna make the best possible material for the next [official] project."
Fif — who has been working on a new freestyle with Lloyd Banks and Tony Yayo over the beat of Snoop Dogg's "Neva Have 2 Worry" — obviously hasn't been slowed down by any of his recent issues with his hip-hop peers. Lately he and Fat Joe have been going back and forth in interviews, songs and Photoshopped pictures on the Web.
"The Hip-Hop Weekly [a fake cover] came out, and it was a thing with [Benzino] supposed to be [sleeping] with Fat Joe's wife," 50 said. "I didn't make that. I didn't have anyone [Photoshop] that. Why would you do that? I work for Hip-Hop Weekly? They'll know that there are issues between me and Joe, so when he approaches them, they'll say, 'Nah, it must be 50. You know how 50 is.' But I didn't care, 'cause I don't like Joe neither. It doesn't matter to me that they did it, but it didn't come from me."
But several days ago, 50 did hold a mock funeral for Joe online. In the video, he started to cry, saying the SoundScan returns of Joe's The Elephant in the Room killed him. He also warned Joe's friend Rick Ross not to align himself too tightly with the Terror Squad general.
"Rick Ross is doing good," 50 elaborated. "I also complimented him that he had the #1 album. I said, 'Just don't stand too close to this fat piece of ...' I'm saying that because of what [Joe's] trying to do. He runs to Miami and hangs out with them like he's running Miami? Does Fat Joe run Miami? I don't think Fat Joe runs Miami. I think people from Miami would be upset you're even questioning that. The fact he can influence DJ Khaled on the radio, does that mean Fat Joe runs Miami? ... I don't care if [Khaled] ever plays my records. He's not important enough to what I'm doing for it to matter. Not to say Miami doesn't count. He doesn't count for it to matter to me."
The G-Unit album, tentatively titled Lock and Load, is slated for this summer, while Fif's next solo LP, Before I Self Destruct, is coming toward the end of this year.
To watch an exclusive clip of 50 explaining why his problems with so many artists have a roundabout connection to Jay-Z, click the player above. ...
The T's have been crossed, the I's have been dotted, and now Brooklyn's Papoose is a free man.
"Actually, I just got out of the situation with Jive," he told us last week at Philippe's restaurant in Manhattan. "I had options when I was trying to get out of the situation with Jive. Now that I'm out of the situation, I'mma make my decision within the next couple weeks or so. And I'm going to move forward. After I make my decision, I want the single out, and I want the album to come right afterward. I want my album out as soon as possible. I just want to get it out there."
The lyrical MC said he wants to release his album, Nacirema Dream, this year, no question. He pinpointed June as a target month, but he's still shuffling songs for the project. Now that he's out of his contract with Jive, Pap said there are a few songs from the album he turned in that he wants to swap out for better ones.
"I'm not with the industry politics, like, 'Yo, you have to have this type of record.' I'm not with none of that, because I'm not bred like that. I'm bred from the street."
Speaking of the street, the DJ Kay Slay protégé recently got into it with another 'hood-certified guy, Fat Joe. After trading barbs in the press about a fight they had in North Carolina, Pap said he's done with Joe. But he warned everyone against thinking someone with a slim frame like his couldn't hold his own with a big guy like Joey Crack.
"That's the same reason he got punched in his face," Pap boasted. "Don't underestimate nobody. He's a big dude, but that's dead weight. He thought he was just gonna come in there and get an easy run, try to punk me. 'Yo, you got a problem with me?' That sh-- don't scare me. I'm from Brooklyn; that don't put no fear in my heart. Size don't mean nothing. Like I said, that's dead weight.
"If you listen to the interviews, he told you himself," Papoose continued. "He wants to fabricate, 'Papoose was in the corner, he was so afraid.' But he doesn't realize that the people and the fans aren't stupid. You said it yourself; you asked me, 'Do I have a problem?' You said yourself that I said, 'Do you want to make it a problem?' That was the only thing he was honest about. Everything else, the fabrication starts. A person that's afraid isn't going to ask you, 'Do you want to make it a problem?' So it speaks for itself." ...
Yes, they can. Once Russell Simmons made up his mind to back Barack Obama in the Democratic presidential primary and had to step down as chairman of his nonpartisan political group the Hip-Hop Summit Action Network, one of the first things he did was ... e-mail DJ Green Lantern?
"I got the e-mail from Russ, like, 'I'm going in. I made my decision; I'm throwing the whole house behind Obama,' " Green said.
Green, in turn, picked up the phone to ask Simmons to collaborate on a Barack Obama mixtape called "Yes, We Can," named after the Illinois senator's popular refrain.
"The light bulb just went off," he explained. "[Russell] is going in; I been a Barack supporter for a long time. [Russell] was conflicted with what he wanted to do, and when he finally made the decision, I just hit him back immediately. I got the idea, let's go and get everybody who's professed their support. Let's make it happen."
"That's his idea; this man did it all," Russell chimed in about Green. "When he called me, I was with it. It's just one more layer for the cake. We already see [Obama] as the nominee. I don't think it's possible for him to lose the nomination. But we have a long haul in front of us. Young people got to come out; they got to vote."
The two have been putting in calls to the likes of Common, Q-Tip and Will.I.Am to get original songs for the project. But, according to Green, the mixtape is going to feature 50 percent new material and 50 percent of his remixing. They're aiming to finish the project before next month's HSAN summit in Pennsylvania.
"I'm having a field day with these Obama speeches," Green explained. "I actually got joints where I'll make a beat, I'll get somebody to sing a hook, and where there's supposed to be verses, it's just straight speeches. I played one for my mother, and she started crying. So it's gonna be inspiring, but then on the street side, it's just gonna be some descriptions of life on the street, but not any of the thuggery."
"[This is] something that I had to do personally," Simmons said of backing Obama and the mixtape. "I think this endorsement is something that I had to do, and it kind of promotes a conflict, so I didn't want to be nothing but a participant. I'm not involved in the day-to-day activities of the Summit anymore because I endorsed Barack Obama." ...
Before we take it a step further, R.I.P. Chad Butler, a.k.a. Pimp C. Bun B's second solo LP, II Trill, is coming in less than a month, and the first single, called "That's Gangsta," features Sean Kingston.
" 'Gangsta' is still doing real good," Bun said at the South by Southwest music festival earlier in March. "We're gonna shoot that video, just waiting for Sean to get back from overseas to get that movin'. Finin' to start getting some viral videos together — just trying to stay focused and grind it out."
"Damn I'm Cold" features Lil Wayne, while Mya sings on "Good II Me." Scott Storch produced "I Luv That." All are being considered as singles.
"The song with Mya is a real good record," he said. "We got this song called 'You're Everything With Me' with Rick Ross, David Banner and 8Ball & MJG. The beat is incredible. I think what the song represents would be something good. We got a lot of good options. That's one thing with UGK: We never tried to make singles; we always made sure we got a solid album. Our problem was trying to decide what the single would be."
For other artists featured in Mixtape Monday, check out Mixtape Mondays Headlines.