Friday, October 16, 2009

Kool G Rap In Space

Remember Unkle? It was the collaborative duo of James LaVelle, owner of Mo' Wax Records, and DJ Shadow. Their album, Psyche Fiction, was one of those post-Dr. Octagon spacey/ electronica/ college radio/ hip-hop/ trip-hop/ whatever albums that were really in vogue at the time (late 90's). It was originally touted as a one-off collaboration only, but later they wound up bringing in new members from all different countries, doing new albums and blah blah blah. I don't care either.

But that one-off album did have one compelling guest spot on it. And thank goodness, they released it as a separate 12". And so Kool G. Rap's 1998 "Guns Blazing" single was born.

At first G Rap seems to be phoning in a lackluster, half-hearted performance ("more reservoir dogs than Tarantino"), but by the time the second verse kicks in, he's cooking with gas, spitting his standard post-Cold Chillin' syllable-massacring freestyle mafioso raps:

"Your whole frame laid in the white chalk.
You got the smoking section
First-class ticket to resurrection,
Forever destined to a place where niggas never restin'.
Headed in Hell's direction,
Lost at the crossroads and intersection;
Should've wore a vest for chest protection."

Update 10/20/09: Krisch pointed out in the comments section, and I've just confirmed, that Kool G Rap used this same verse for his guest spot on B-1's Rawkus single "Cardinal Sins" that same year. And G does sound a little more natural over that beat. Still, though, the second verse is definitely original to this song... he even mentions Shadow ("G Rap and DJ Shadow leave your bones squashed") in it.

The music, which is apparently entirely handled by DJ Shadow on this one, is ok, and interesting in that it's a little different from your average Kool G record. But at the end of the day, it's (predictably) not really suited to him, and you'd be better off putting one of his Giancana Stories beats behind him ...which you can do, because this 12" conveniently comes equipped with an acapella. It's not bad, though. Once you get past a really tedious two minute introduction of random sound effects (pro-tip: skip past this bullshit and start the song at the 2 minute mark), it's got a grumbling bassline and hectic drum beat, which feels a little all-over-the-place, but it's pretty hard and generally appropriate. Of course, there's also a ton of spacey sound effects that come and go throughout the song, and vocal samples involving dog-fighting spaceships (hey, don't look at me) during the hook, which are a little less fitting.

Interestingly, the 12" credits mention additional vocals by Latryx. They must just be doing the back-ups where they double-up one or two keywords in Kool's verses, 'cause otherwise I don't hear them anywhere. It's just a G Rap solo record... which is preferable anyway. Also, am I crazy, or does he say you'll be "surrounded by pedoforks" in the second verse?

Well, anyway, yeah. You get the LP version, a shortened version called Vocal Street (which I prefer because it shaves off a lot of Shadow's doodling and cuts right to the G Rap action), the aforementioned acapella and an instrumental (dramatically titled "Drums of Death") of the shorter version. This is no "Road To the Riches" or even "It's a Shame," but as with basically every G Rap record, the lyrics and delivery are must-haves, and it's better than Click of Respect.


  1. G Rap used the lyrics of the first verse again (or previously?) for his feature on B-1's "Cardinal Sins" on Rawkus, also 1998.

  2. Ah, well spotted! I'm gonna update the post.