Monday, June 27, 2011

Kool G Rap & Nas "Holla Back" - The Protoype?

I've done a pair of pretty thorough posts on the many, variant tracks left off the commercial release of Kool G Rap's Giancana Story on Koch Records, here and here. But, you know, there's always another little piece of the puzzle to be found. And today's bone fragment that I've linked to the giant, Tyrannosaurus skeleton (really, Giancana Story's a great album if you gather up all the pieces besides what you just get on the 2003 CD) is a neat white label 12" featuring an alternate version of "Holla Back" featuring Nas.

Now, before you cut me off and tell me you already know about the "Holla Back" version with Nas, allow me to point out that this is another version featuring just Nas. Now, I've already talked about the more well-known, unreleased version of "Holla Back" and how it differed from the one on the final Koch album. Here's the break-down of those two versions:
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, believe it or not, The Fearless Four. 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.
But there's also this white label 12", which features its own, unique version of "Holla Back." The main difference? No AZ or Nawz, and no Tito either. This is strictly a duet, making it a more fitting follow-up to "Fast Life," going right from Nas's killer verse to G Rap's. Now I'm not mad at the other guest verses (especially AZ's) so it's not a "yay! they're gone" situation; but it does turn a sort of awkward posse cut that takes too long to get to G Rap's part into a concise heater with just the two greatest verses from any version of the song.

But that's not the only difference. Where the original version and the Koch version feature someone (I think Nawz?) doing a spoken intro starting out, "yo, it's 2G" etc, this one has its a different intro. This version starts with Nas explaining how Kool G Rap inspired him. Then G Rap gets on to tell us to check out these tracks, and then we're right into Nas's verse. I actually think maybe this intro was recorded specifically for the 12" (which also furthers my suspicion that this white label was a promo release from Rawkus and not a bootleg), but it is blended into the song.

And this 12" has some nice bonuses as well. It features three freestyles which decidedly don't sound like radio or mixtape rips. The sound is clean and professional and I'm guessing they were recorded for this 12". Two feature Ma Barker (natch) and one features him going over the "It's a Demo" instrumental. All three are pretty nice - G Rap kills it on all of them. My favorite is the one titled simply "Unreleased."

Then, the B-side features the Jagged Edge song "Ride On," which features Kool G Rap. Produced by The Trackmasterz, it features them singing over pretty much the same instrumental The Arsonists used for "Venom," so it's pretty hot. Like the more official 12" Rawkus put out of this song, it features Clean, Dirty and Instrumental versions. But only the other, separate "Ride On" 12" has the acapella.

All in all, this is a pretty sweet 12" with a lot of value, considering it has "Ride On" and the three exclusive freestyles. And for me, this is probably the ideal version of "Holla Back" with just the absolute tightest verses on it. But even if you decide you'd rather have the version with the extra AZ and Nawz verses on it (I can't imagine anyone deciding they'd rather have the Koch version which excises one of Nas's illest appearances), this is still an interesting historical artifact. If you see it, pick it up.


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