Monday, April 21, 2014

Half a Klip Worth Half a Krap?

Here we have what is perhaps Kool G Rap's most maligned album (running neck and neck with Click of Respect), Half a Klip. Well, I've found that it's been very worth going back and revisiting his other commonly dismissed albums, so it was only a matter of time until I got to this one, right? And I can definitely promise that there are some interesting things going on with this project to discuss. Plus maybe we're in for another pleasant, underrated surprise.

Like Click of Respect, which can be considered "a posse album and not a proper G Rap album," this album has a built in excuse in case you do find it sub-par. It's an EP. Sort of. Originally, it was meant to be an EP, which is why it's called Half a Klip. Don't take my word for it, though; here's Kool G Rap explaining it in an interview with the now defunct, "(Why a half a clip not a full clip?) Cuz it's an EP. (laugh) Seven tracks. One track is produced by DJ Premier but the rest of it is from up and coming producers. There is a song on there featuring G Rap and his wife Ma Barker."

Well, obviously some things happened between that interview and the release of the album. About the only thing that's still accurate in G Rap's statement is that one track is produced by DJ Premier. It's not seven songs long, there's eleven. He says all the other producers are "up and coming producers," but one of the credited producers here is Marley Marl - you don't get less "up and coming" than him. And also none of the songs feature Ma Barker. So, hey, it sounds like everything changed for the better (sorry, Ma).

Yeah, it's eleven songs, even though there's only nine on the back cover and inside artwork, so I'd say changes were still being made until the very last moment. But I guess we're supposed to consider the last two as Bonus Tracks, since they're just alternate versions of songs from the first nine. In fact, track 11 is just a clean edit of track 9; so that's not really anything to get excited about.  And there's plenty more to get unexcited about. A lot of the production (including Domingo, MoSS, Dane JA and Ricky Snow) is pretty flat and boring. And some are quite short. One of the songs produced by G Rap's fam, The Five Family Click, fades out in such a way that it sounds like we're just not getting the whole song. Let me guess: they faded out before Click member Ma Barker's verse?

And how about that Marley Marl produced track? That sounds pretty compelling, right? Except, strangely, it's just a remix of "#1 With a Bullet," from Kool G Rap and DJ Polo's 1992 album, Live and Let Die, which was sixteen years old even at the time. And they cut out Big Daddy Kane's part!  What's more, listening to it, I really don't think this new beat is by Marley at all.  It doesn't sound up to his standards or in his style.  I suspect one of their "up and comers" produced this remix, and they're just crediting Marley because they wanted to use his connection to help sell this project (notice how his name's right there on the sticker on the front cover).

...But, it's not all bad. They've replaced Kane with a new verse by KL of Screwball, who must've at least been aware of why he was being recorded, because he mentions Kool G Rap in his bars. So it's a little bit interesting thanks to that addition, but it's really nothing special from KL, and doesn't even come close to Kane's original contribution. Oh, and they also removed G Rap's second verse, so it's only got two verses in total now. Couple all that with the inferior new production and this mix really isn't worthwhile except as a curiosity piece for KL's involvement.

Oh, I guess I also have to talk about Haylie Duff. She's on here, and of course the internet being the internet, that's perhaps become what this album is best known for. Haylie Duff is Hilary Duff's sister, who's an even bigger pop singer and TV actress. But I believe they're both both. I don't know; I don't follow that teeny bopper shit. But apparently they're a really big deal in that circuit. And so, yeah, she's on here (though the liner notes incorrectly credit her for being on "Risin' Up," when she's actually on "On the Rise Again." It's their own fault for putting two songs on the same album with "Rise" as the key word of the title). Anyway, her influence on the song is very small. She sings one or two lines which I think are just then repeated as a vocal sample (rather than her singing the chorus each time), and it's kind of low in the mix. Like, I'm not bashing Ms. Duff; I don't know her and couldn't say if she's a talented singer or not. Maybe she's got an amazing voice; but this track didn't test her at all. She could really be any generic girl voice here. Her appearance here is just a novel footnote.

Curiously, there's a song on here called "100 Rounds (Original Version)." Why do they specify "Original Version?" There's no alternate version on here or anywhere else. As far as I can tell, G Rap never used these rhymes on another song or anything. I mean, it implies that we've all heard "100 Rounds" before somewhere else, but a later version; and now we're getting to hear how it was originally recorded... But I'm pretty sure it only exists in this one form on this album, so what gives?

Well anyway, I think it's time now for me to deeper dig into the vaults for another interesting article on Half a Klip that's unfortunately no longer online to get into more of the story. Producer Eric Vanderslice used to have a blog on Philaflava, and was apparently loosely involved with this project behind the scenes. He wrote some pretty interesting stuff about this album, which I'll quote liberally for you now, since it can no longer be found on the internet otherwise:

"The original idea was for Dan Mack [Dan Herman] (ceo of chinga chang records) to get a verse from G Rap for his artist out of Ohio named Epik. Now Epik has the typical 'new rapper' syndrome, he lives in Ohio, and instead of jumping on a train to go record with a legend on a legends beat, he asks Dan for money JUST to come out. Also keep in mind this is wayyyy before you could just 'get' a G Rap verse, I don't even think he was on Myspace at the time? Now if you're a moderately talented rapper with good connections and you had the opportunity to expand that greatly in one day, wouldn't you just show up? Dj Premier, G Rap, & Epik = instant credability for someone no one really knows beyond his area. He doesn't show, Dan and myself truck to G Raps crib in Jersey, get up with Domingo, chill, record, listen, burn the cd, and bounce. Fast forward well over a year and a half, I hear the Premier track finally leaks, and it's not the beat he recorded on, which wasn't much of a surprise to me. 


It was originally scheduled to be merely a collabo 16, in which G graciously blessed 24 bars for.

Dan is pissed Epik thinks he's too cool to come record in Jersey, so Domingo sees Dan throwing THOUSANDS of dollars into this project, only to try and cash in himself. I'm not saying I wouldn't have done the same thing, about 75 - 80% of rap is merely a hustle with a soundtrack behind it. However Dan isn't really rich, he's a real estate scoundrel making money on ebay and pumping that back into his label. Already WAY over budget he put over 10 thousand dollars into a G Rap verse and beat + scratches from Premier. Granted this is much cheaper off the books, it's two unaccessible to the public hip hop ICONS, and Dan talked his way into both spots to be able to do what he did, with what he had. I gotta give em a lot of credit.

The problem lies soley on Dans shoulders for the way this cd came out though. It went from a collabo with Epik, for Epiks project which already hit a few speed bumps. Interscope wouldn't clear the collabo Epik did with The Game for less than a zillion dollars so THAT got shelved, then he did a joint with Lil Flip that never saw the light of day either? Either way you add those 2, and a song with G Rap over a Premier beat you're looking at a tracklist that would interest a lot of people. These problems mount up and Domingo lends a helping hand, all the while trying to reach around into his pockets with the other, I mean a producers gotta eat right? That's why this cd ended up the way it did. Dan ran out of money and couldn't live up to his end of the deal financially or finally didn't want to lose any more of his money. He had no business trying to do this on his own anyway. Drama ensues, Domingo and Dan go back n forth, neither one of em are very stable and i'm almost certain G Rap just stepped aside. The only tracks that were made for this cd were the Premier track, 100 rounds, and Whats more Realer than that."

That's pretty damning stuff, and what you hear on the CD (this was a CD-only release, of course) does a good job of confirming the story above - it sounds like a non-album glued together out of little bits. The only shout-outs in the album liner notes, even, are from Herman, and say simply, "Dedicated to anyone who ever made something out of nothing! Half a Klip is the definition of that." It certainly is. Even when this was going to be just a seven song EP, I think they would've come pretty short. But stretching this out to a full-length album hurts it a lot more.

So, what does all this mean? Is this there any value to this album at all? Yeah, the Premier track is dope, musically and lyrically. Domingo and G Rap have three solid numbers on here, "The Life" is a compelling narrative from the master storyteller, and everything else here is at least decent. It's still Kool G Rap, he never comes wack. And most of this album is new and exclusive material. It's definitely his weakest album and probably holds up worse now than it did at the time (googling around, this album actually got a lot of surprisingly uncritical reviews). Ranked against other G Rap albums, this one definitely lives at the bottom; but try and listen to "Typical Nigga" or "What's More Realer Than That" without nodding along. This is still worth having for any G Rap fan - I'm certainly happy to have my copy. But if you don't already consider yourself a fan, this is absolutely not the album to dust off in 2014 (wow, it's only six years old); and even diehards are going to feel some disappointment mixed into their listening experience.


  1. A great and interesting read, Werner. Kudos for doing this during the holidays.

  2. I remember on his myspace they said if you bought the download through myspace you would get 3-4 more bonus tracks. "extended klip" or something like that. I think it was mostly stuff that had leaked on mixtapes at least.

  3. And here it is via the internet wayback machine:


    Featuring..Busta Rhymes..Bun B..Killa MIke

    Production by..Marley Marl..Domingo..Dj Premier..Moss




    1.Risin Up-Produced by Domingo
    2.Turn it Out-Produced by Childs
    3.100 Roundz (original version)-Produced by Domingo
    4.The Life-Produced by Moss
    5.Typical Nigga-Produced by FrankDukes
    6.What's more realer then that(Deranged mix)-Produced by Domingo
    7.I feel bad for you son-produced by Nomadic
    8.With a bullet-Produced by Marley Marl
    9.On the rise again(dirty)-Produced by Dj Premier
    10.What's more realer then(Original mix)-Produced by Marksbeats
    11.On the rise again(clean)-Produced by Dj Premier
    12.Unda the wing-Produced by EuroBeats
    13.You aint worthy-Feat. Busta Rhymes-Produced by Green Lantern
    14.Risin up(original mix)-Produced by Domingo
    15.Real o.g.'s-Feat. Bun B.-Killa Mike-Produced by My dude

  4. Very interesting! Good find, guys; I did not know about that at all.

  5. The Primo and Marley tracks are out on (bootleg) vinyl:


    S m O O v

  6. The original version of Rising Up can be heard here:


    S m O O v

  7. The rest are on J-Love and and Whoo Kid mixtapes (I think the latter was official). Not sure if untagged/J-Loved versions are out there.