[3 March 2008]
Kool G. Rap’s stature is ingrained in the psyches of most hardcore rap fans. I listened to Half a Klip, the emcee’s February 2008 release, and I thought, “Wow, I get to review a Kool G. Rap record. What do I say about it?” After some reflection, I believe you should know the following. First, Kool G. Rap is indeed a hip-hop icon and lyrical juggernaut who stands shoulder to shoulder with the likes of NWA, Spice-1, and Scarface as a primogenitor of gangsta rap. That’s right, say “Hi” to the bad guy. Second, Half a Klip is an EP, not a full album, hence the album title. There are 11 total tracks, two of which are alternative versions, while five of the rest clock in at under three minutes. My favorite tracks are “Risin’ Up”, and “100 Rounds”, although there are frequent glimpses of Kool G. Rap’s claim to hip-hop royalty throughout. His rhymes are still gritty, grimy, and gory, and his flow is still intricately smooth, but the project as a whole travels lighter than you’ll want from an artist of his caliber. Contrast that with Scarface’s December 2007 release, M.A.D.E., which was short on time, but qualitatively potent. Hopefully, we’ll see a “full klip” from Kool G. Rap sooner than later. Third, someone must have raided a vault of 1970s blaxploitation soundtracks, considering the vintage era soul that permeated 2007’s releases from Prodigy, Jay-Z, and Camp Lo. Half a Klip uses the vibe effectively, with production from DJ Premier, Marley Marl, 5 Family Click, Dane JA, Domingo, and MoSS. Fourth, you might have heard that Half a Klip contains some vocals from Haylie Duff. This is true, and while it might seem like an odd pairing on paper, it works rather well in audio, probably because you don’t really hear her. On the other hand, Haylie Duff was kind of gangsta on 7th Heaven, wasn’t she? Finally, if you really want a sense of Kool G. Rap’s capabilities and influence, listen to Wanted: Dead or Alive (1990) or his near-flawless verse in Marly Marl’s definitive posse cut “The Symphony”. Half a Klip is for the diehards.