Let's be real. Kool G Rap is a legend. Forget all the journalistic principles about being bias and unbiased. Sometimes you can't ignore the facts. Kool G Rap is rap's Oscar Robertson -- a person who will go down in history as one of the best, but will be misunderstood by today's youth simply because of the generational gap. KGR was a multi-faceted rapper who possessed a whip lashing flow capable of lacerating the pride of fellow emcees. Rappers like Nas and Jay-Z have always spoke fondly about one of the founding fathers of rap with the utmost respect. Jay has even, occasionally, thrown Kool G references in several tracks, including "Encore", and "Maybach Music". You think he said it just to be cool?
Now, KGR returns with a new album, entitled Riches, Royalty, and Respect, and comes with the same intentions as he did when he first came out with his debut album, Road to the Riches -- just do it for the love of the game.
Ballerstatus was able to sit down with Kool G Rap, and talk about his new album, staying true to himself, collabing with Rick Ross, and discussing the outcome of a cipher battle featuring hip-hop's all-time greats.
BallerStatus.com: I know your new album is coming out, entitled Riches, Royalty, and Respect. What made you decide to go with that as your title for 2011?
Kool G Rap: I really became conscious of things like titles, and stuff like that. I mean, not that I wasn't before, but I wanted to make more of a personal statement, rather than something that sounded catchy or mob affiliated or something like that. In the pas,t I used to borrow titles from movies, and stuff like that. But, my first album was called Road to the Riches. That was more of a personal desire. This album, I kind of wanted to go back to that. Go back to the personal; you know what I'm saying? It took me awhile to come up with the title. I just wanted to come up with a list of things that I would want to obtain. When I thought of that, I said, "That's something that every man wants to obtain. Riches, Royalty, and Respect is a desire every man wants -- even women. Any human being would want any of those things or all of the above."
BallerStatus.com: I'm going to be honest man. I'm 21. So when I was comparing the title to my generation as a whole now, I realized, a lot of these cats are going for the riches rather than the respect. Do you think that kind of mindset affects the quality of music?
Kool G Rap: Oh wow. Yeah, I mean it definitely does 'cause it makes you one dimensional. Dudes who make records all day, which they do, basically talk about the same subject matter. They talk about money. They talk about what they got, and what you ain't got. But you know what I think happened to music, the soul is missing. There's good ear candy out there. But the soul is missing from the music right now. And yo, I'm not an artist for my era that downs the artists of today or bash anybody, because there's a lot of fugazy sh** out there. But, there are some cats who are real, and really have talent, and who aren't one dimensional.
BallerStatus.com: What was your mindset making this album, knowing this generation is now more geared towards the skinny jeans, and dance records? Did you come in with the mindset of trying to adapt to them, or just sticking to the script?
Kool G Rap: To be honest with you g, I had no intentions of trying to upset my sh**, and be attractive to the youth or try to be attractive for radio play. You know, I do have songs that I'd love to hit the radio, and I think they're radio playable, but I wasn't reaching for that. Mentally, my mindset was like, "This was something G Rap wanted to get out of his system. Whether it's making music touching on some real life sh**, or me displaying lyrical skills, and wordplay," It was gonna be either of those things. It wasn't gonna to reach Young Jeezy's audience or T.I.'s audience. It wasn't going to be for that. Not to knock those artists, because I like both of those artists. There's sh** of Jeezy that I like, and sh** of T.I. that I like, just like Rick Ross. But I'm not that favorable of anybody doing the sh** right now. But I don't knock em. It's good thing they're doing something positive to make a living when they could be doing other things out there in the street.
BallerStatus.com: I remember when I spoke to KRS-One and Buckshot a while back, they said their issue wasn't necessarily the new cats, but just the lack of lyricism. Does it bother you that the lack of wordplay is evident in rap today? When before guys like you, Rakim, and Big Daddy Kane were always giving away bars?
Kool G Rap: You know what? It really don't bother me because not everybody is capable of being a G Rap, Big Daddy Kane, or KRS-One. That says a person is gifted. These are not any rappers you see on TV, rocking some jewelry, and see all the girls chasing them. Now you see kids like, "Yo. I wanna do the same thing because I want all those things." A Rakim, Big Daddy Kane, and G-Rap kind of talent isn't just going to shoot up your body, and then instantly you become that talented artist. That's why it doesn't matter because some of these artists are just doing what they can do. They doing all that they can do. So then, that's when they make their swag stand out, and make swag a big thing. I mean swag was always apart of hip-hop, it's just we didn't call it swagger. We just used to say that someone was talented or had a lot of charisma. They just titled the sh** "swagger" now.
BallerStatus.com: I remember listening to Rick Ross' mixtape, The Albert Anastasia EP, and you were on it. What drew into doing a feature with him, knowing he had a trouble past in regards to him being a C.O.?
Kool G Rap: Number one, I did music with Rick Ross. What he does in his personal life is him. I don't knock a man for what he does for a living. If he wants to keep that from the public, or present it to the public, that's all on him. I was making music with Rick Ross. He treated G Rap with curiosity, respect, and some cases admiration. So I couldn't be like, "Yo, f*** outta here. You was a C.O." I'm not a cat like that. I don't knock him for that. If he feels it was something shameful, and doesn't want the public to know, that's on him. That's his business. But as far as his music, he's a lyrical dude. That's why I linked with Ross. His mixtape was crazy. He's on top of his pen game.
BallerStatus.com: What does it take to get Kool G Rap on a track as a feature?
Kool G Rap: I mean, like with Rick Ross, it was gonna be an even trade. I do one for you, and you do one for me-type of thing. But you can't be like that with everybody. It gotta make sense for me, and for the other person. Outside of situations like that, I'd charge that bread, that paper.
BallerStatus.com: Speaking of features, who do you have on the album?
Kool G Rap: To be honest, I got a lot of no-name cats that got that fire. I'm not sure if you heard the "Sad" single I dropped last year around September or October. I got an Alchemist track with Havoc on the chorus. There's a lot of hungry dudes coming up that got that fire. On the EP, I'm dropping before the album, I got a track from my man Domingo. You know, he produced a sh**load of people from Shaquille O'Neal to Amy Winehouse, Big Pun, and KRS-One. But there's a lot of hungry dudes man.
BallerStatus.com: I remember Hov did an interview with Charlie Rose, and he said if he was to go into battle with a rival crew, he would take you, Eminem, Biggie, Pac, Nas, and KRS-One. Now I'm wondering, if there was a battle cipher among yourselves, how do you think you would fair?
Kool G Rap: Oh my God. That would be a problem my man. (Laughs)
BallerStatus.com: All heavyweights. (Laughs)
Kool G Rap: You're talking about Pac, BIG, Jay, Nas, and KRS. Damn, I seen what you were talking about. I agreed with what Jay was saying about Pac. It's not that Pac was so crazy lyrically, but it was his passion. Tupac, to me, was like the hip-hop Marvin Gaye. That's the best example, because he was the artist of the time, and so was Pac.