Thursday, January 15, 2009

The Lost Giancana Story

So, most of you guys know the basic story of Kool G Rap's sixth album; but for those who don't let me catch ya up real quick before we get into the advanced stuff. When G Rap was looking for a post Cold Chillin' label/home, Rawkus Records was at the top of its game. So when they signed him, it seemed like the promise of something great (even if they were already showing signs of having too much corny, controlling influence in their artists' work). So, he recorded his album, The Giancana Story for them, and they released a promo single or two. They started to have conflict about his not being commercial enough, their focusing on other other artists who were popping off... the album kept getting pushed back. G Rap recorded new material to please the label, a few more promo 12"s came out, the album leaked. The album got pushed back again, another version leaked. Eventually the album was shelved, Rawkus fell into financial hardship and eventually collapsed, and Kool G Rap was without a label. A few years later, he signed with Koch, and their first project with him was to release long lost The Giancana Story (with Rawkus, who are also credited on the label).

Ok, so now you're caught up. The Giancana Story, as it was released by Koch, was fourteen tracks long (refer to my Kool G Rap page for the complete track-listing). But the leak(s) were longer, and featured a bunch of songs not on the Koch version. And some of the stuff released on promo 12" also wasn't on the Koch album. In fact, there's more missing from the Koch album than there's included! So, now let's take a look back at all of these "lost" Giancana stories.

Oh wait; before I start, let me just get this out of the way. To add to the confusion of the different Giancana Story albums, there have been some retitlings. For instance, "She's Dressed To Kill" from the original leak did make its way onto the final, retail version; only they called it "Black Widow." "Get 'Em Up Now" became "Fight Club," etc. But the tracks we're about to look at are completely different songs.

1) "First Nigga" - This was released on promo 12" in 2001. It's ok (there's some nice scratching on the hook), but was quickly overshadowed by our next track...

2) "First Nigga (DJ Premiere Remix)" - This was released as the B-side to the 2001 single of "The Streets," and as you'd expect from a remix by DJ Premiere, it totally eclipsed the original, which was promptly forgotten. It's not surprising that "First Nigga" didn't make the album, but very surprising that this remix didn't.

3) "Ride On" featuring Jagged Edge - This was released on 12" in 2002. Jagged Edge is a male R&B group singing the hook... they're ok, but G Rap flowing on the killer beat to The Arsonists' "Venom" is hot. It's worth picking up the 12".

4) "G Rap Is a Villain" featuring Ma Barker - This song was only on the leaked album and has never been properly released. It's a duet with Ma Barker, and a play on "Top Billin'" with a hook that goes, "Ma Barker's chillin', G Rap is a villain, what more can we say to you bitches? We pop steel an' that's what we got, baby, givin' it good. Don't give a fuck if you from the same hood." It's not great, but a fun album track.

5) "This Is My Life" featuring CNN - this song is one of the best on any version of the album, but it was only featured on the leak. It loops an upbeat moment from the Scarface soundtrack, and each MC spits gangster tales and comes off tight (and I'm really not much of a CNN supporter generally). There must have been sample issues or something, 'cause I can't imagine even the most tin-eared label exec thinking this should be left back.

6) "Round and Round (remix)" featuring Jonel - To be fair, this was probably never intended for any version of The Giancana Story, but as always, I'm being completist. This was featured on a 2001 promotional CDsingle of "My Life." It's an R&B song by Jonel that features a couple guest verses by G Rap; he wasn't on the original, and there was even another version featuring Method Man. It's basically just another in a long line of forgettable R&B tracks with guest rappers on the remix, but it's worth tracking down just because the guest happened to be G Rap this time.

7) "Keep Goin'" featuring Snoop Doggy Dogg & Devin the Dude - This team-up must've been some Rawkus guy's idea. It was released as a promo 12" in 2002. Each MC does a good job, but with a slow beat (produced by Hi-Tek) and a sung hook, it's the sort of compromised sound that doesn't wind up satisfying any of these guys' fans. It's really not bad, though.

8) "How It Feel" featuring Havoc - The track for this leak-only joint is really cool, with some nice atmospheric samples; and G Rap kills it. Havoc provides a nice hook (though no verse). This would've been a much better choice than a lot of the generic tracks that made the final album.

9) "Ya'll Niggas" featuring BGF - This wasn't featured on the original leak, so it must've been recorded later to satisfy Rawkus. It was never released, only featured on a second leak. It's an ok posse cut with his crew again, the beat is a little livelier than most. Update 1/28/09: The Japanese issue of the Koch CD actually includes this song as a bonus track, retitled as "Planet Of the Apes." There's no difference between the two.

10) "This Means War" - This is kinda like "Ya'll Niggas" but without his crew. Which makes it a little better. It's upbeat and angry, but the track is kinda lame. It was only featured on the leak.

11) "Holla Back" with Nas, Nawz & AZ - Yeah, this was featured on the album. But the leaked version had Nas kicking the first verse instead of Tito of BGF. Nas seriously came off with one of his tightest, illest verses, too ("Throw niggas off yachts, hold niggas with shots, my bitches ran 'cause I'm stupid - I put the shit on digital cam. Light up an ounce, let my bitches watch it on television, hella relentless. Fifty a pop, sell it like Menace. When I sleep, all I see is a white skeleton image. It's telling me something... I opened up Shakespeare's tomb, stole his remains, grinded his bones and got in the game"); so it's a real loss. This version was only featured on the leak. The Koch version also remixed the beat adding a few extra samples and bits. None of it makes up for the loss of Nas.

12) "Nobody Can't Eat" - In a 2002 interview with HipHopDX, G Rap talked about how he wanted this to be his next single, saying, "that’s a good song to define G Rap." It was featured as the B-side to his "My Life" single, but wasn't featured on any versions of the actual album.

13) "Ordinary Love" featuring Ma Barker - Kool G Rap kills it on this song, though the R&B hook could've turned off the pure hardrock fans. I really like this one, though; the only drawback to me is Ma Barker. Don't get me wrong, she's ok (she usually is), but Kool G Rap raises the bar way over her head with his verses. It's also some (slightly) different material for G Rap. This was only featured on the leak.

14) "Why You Gotta Do It Like That" featuring Ma Barker - Kool G Rap tries something a little different here. The hook drags on a bit, but the beat is interesting and G Rap comes off really nice once he starts spittin'. Ma Barker sounds nice on this track, too; though of course another G Rap verse would've been preferable. If you ask me, the combo of G Rap and this track would've sounded really nice on the album, but again it was only featured on the leak.

Update 1/20/09: I forgot one!
15) "Thug Out" featuring Black Child, Caddillac Tah, Ma Barker & Jinx - this is the original version of what Koch later released as "Spill Blood" (not on the album, but put out as the exclusive B-side to their 12" single of "It's Nothin'"). It features the same hook and verses, but the beat is totally different ...actually, "Spill Blood"'s track by DJ Scratch is better, so this not being included is no great loss. For some reason Ma Barker isn't credited on the 12" with the other MCs, but that's clearly her kicking the third verse.

Of course, there's no telling if there are any other unreleased Giancana stories still locked in Rawkus or Koch's closets. The Koch version did introduce us to a few new tracks: "Gangsta Gangsta," "Drama (Bitch Nigga)" and "It's Nothin'," which they also made as their single. So if there was those, maybe there's more. And even if there isn't, there's still enough here for a Giancana Story Part 2. So how about it, guys? G Rap's Rawkus material is underrated (most of it at least holds up to Live & Let Die, and 4,5,6). I'd buy it.


  1. Man,

    Big fan of your work for the last two years!!! It's a shame you're not more known than you already are...very informative and intriguing reads....thanks so much man!! Got you linked up!!

    Take Care


  2. Very impressive, keep up the good work bru. Real rap lives