Monday, November 18, 2013

Kool G Rap and Necro Have Arrived

It's out now: Kool G Rap and Necro's collaborative album, The Godfathers: Once Upon a Crime. I've joked a few times that the only prospect I'd look forward to more than a Kool G Rap album with Necro is a Kool G Rap album without Necro. But let's be real - how is this album, really?

Actually, Necro does a pretty decent job of living up to G Rap. I haven't spent the years following his output too closely. I enjoyed his debut 12", "Underground (Rules4Ghouls)," albeit as almost more of a novelty record than a serious hip-hop piece of art. And once he got even jokier, with his parody of LL Cool J's "I Need Love," "I Need Drugs," I was pretty much done with him. I'd catch a video here or there; but it wasn't until I got a mixCD compilation of his stuff (Origins) free a ughh record order that I thought he might even have the lyrical abilities to be taken seriously. And even then, that didn't have be running out to purchase all his albums I'd missed over the years.

Wait. Let me get even more real. I first heard of Necro when he produced Cage's debut 12". They were never actually a proper group, but they'd done radio appearances and freestyles together before that, and it sort of seemed like they had an ideal pairing going on. When they parted ways after, I always thought Cage - though he'd certainly had an impressive list of producers making tracks for him - had lost his ideal producer. And Necro had lost his ideal MC.  "Underground" was fun, but his corny, forced punchlines ("you'll be blinded like Rosie O'Donnell jumped up ten feet in the air and flashed her tits") and obvious reaches for shock value made him look like a cheap Cage knock-off. They were like two Prince Pos with no Pharaoh Monche; they never should've split.

For Necro, it's like he's finally found his Cage again. Both in being top shelf writers, and also in keeping Necro in on the right path. Not too jokey or too juvenile or too trashy.  Necro, with Kool G Rap, is pretty on point.

And I've never been mad at Necro as a producer. He keeps things simple, with pure, raw hardcore hip-hop tracks that are just perfect for a guy like G Rap. I definitely wouldn't've been mad to have seen his name on Riches, Royalty, Respect. It's a good combination, and again, Necro even shows that he can share a mic with G Rap, too. Yeah, you can still see Kool's the stronger lyricist (Necro still has jokes about Dolly Parton's breast size, if you can believe it); but Necro more than treads water with some slick, angry multis and turns in a better performance than most indie guys who've gotten Kool G Rap on their tracks.

One big thing that separates this from Riches, Royalty and Respect besides the additional rapper is the lack of variety. Where Riches had a variety of topics, styles and tones; this album basically has one speed the entire way through: hard spitting. Whether that's a good or a bad thing is just a matter of preference. On the one hand, the album can a bit endless by the time you're at 10 or 11 (there's 18 total, and none of them are skits). The formula is so locked: one indidivual verse apiece from Necro and G Rap per song. They never go line-for-line or spit multiple, shorter verses or anything. Just one verse apiece, plus a hook.

On the other hand, if you're only going to do one type of the song, this is the best type to do. And it's probably a wise move to keep Necro from attempting sad songs about the loss of a relative or heartfelt material about his love life. It's just a perfect machine-gun like delivery of skill flexing and gangster talk, and you can't go wrong with that. And they don't.

The only mistake I think they make is actually a repeat of a misstep from Riches, Royalty, Respect. It front loads all the weakest material. I appreciate that you don't want your album to run out of steam, but the first song is one of the worst - indeed, it opens with a verse from Necro much weaker than pretty much anything else he does on the album. As the goes forward, the momentum increases and you get to the hotter material but it makes me think people who are on the fence about this album - again, like Riches - won't give it a full and proper chance and wind up passing on what's a stronger album than they realize.

This album features only one guest: regular Necro cohort Mr. Hyde, who drops a quick verse near the end of the album. He holds up his end, too. There's also a female R&B vocalist named Mitch Matlock, who sings hooks and back-up vocals on three songs, and she's used very well. It never feels like a tacky crossover moment; it's subtle and effective, and gives the album a richer feel. One track has a pretty awful "what were they thinking?" hook (not by Mitch), but apart from that the album is pretty solid from beginning to end. Especially once you get a few songs deep.

This album's CD only, but it comes with a nice 25-page booklet including all the lyrics and a bunch of art pieces that clearly had care put into them. If you order it direct from Necro's site, you can get various bonuses from signed copies to t-shirts, hats and posters. Personally, none of it did anything for me apart from the basic CD and possibly the sigs, so that's all I went for. But I'm definitely happy with what I've got. I was a little worried how this project would turn out; but I think it came out the best it possibly could. I mean, I was confident we'd at least get some nice, new verses from Kool G Rap, but it's a very pleasant surprise to learn that the whole project holds up. Sure, it's not for everybody; but if you think this duo might be your speed at all, I definitely recommend it. And I'd love to see a Godfathers Part II. Meanwhile, what's Cage doing now? Dubstep? Oy vey.

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