Nathaniel Thomas Wilson (born July 20, 1968), better known by his stage name Kool G Rap (or simply G Rap), is an American rapper from Queens. He began his career in the mid-1980s as one half of the group Kool G Rap & DJ Polo and as a member of the Juice Crew. He is often cited as one of the most influential and skilled MCs of all time and a pioneer of mafioso rap/street/hardcore content and multisyllabic rhyming. On his album The Giancana Story, he stated that the “G” in his name stands for “Giancana” (after the mobster Sam Giancana), but on other occasions he has stated that it stands for “Genius”.
He has also been cited as a major influence to some of hip-hop’s most critically acclaimed figures such as The Notorious B.I.G., Nas, Eminem and Jay-Z, as well as many underground rappers.
Wilson grew up in the poverty-ridden streets of Corona, Queens, New York with legendary producer Eric B. In an interview with The Source he stated.
Growing up in Corona was like a little Harlem, it wasn’t that hard for a nigga to be influenced by the street life type of mentality. I was like 15 years old, Ma dukes couldn’t dress a nigga no more and at that age you want a little money in your pocket. That’s what gets us all, material possessions. A nigga got caught up in that mentality. Nigga started selling drugs at a certain point, and all that shit, it’s what was goin’ on in the streets … eventually all my friends got smoked. Everybody was droppin’. All my friends started packing burners everyday, we was wild shorties.
— Kool G Rap, The Source Magazine, issue 72, September, 1995.
Around this time, Wilson was looking for a DJ, and through Eric B., he met DJ Polo, who was looking for an MC to collaborate with.
Juice Crew producer Mr. Magic and DJ Marley Marl allowed Polo and G Rap to go to their studio to record a demo, which resulted in the song “It’s a Demo.” The song was written and recorded in one night, and had Marley so impressed, that he instantly embraced Kool G Rap and DJ Polo as Juice Crew members/ In 1986 on Mr. Magic’s Rap Attack radio show on 107.5, the duo got their first exposure which created more buzz. They eventually released “It’s a Demo” as a single with “I’m Fly”, along with two more singles. Shortly after this, Kool G Rap appeared on the Juice Crew’s classic posse cut “The Symphony” before they released their debut album, Road to the Riches in 1989. This album and their two later albums, Wanted: Dead or Alive (1990) and Live and Let Die (1992), are highly regarded and considered hip-hop classics. Eventually in 1993, Kool G Rap parted ways with DJ Polo in pursuit of a solo career.
In 1995, G Rap started his solo career with the album 4, 5, 6, which featured production from Buckwild, and guest appearances from Nas, MF Grimm and B-1. It has been his most commercially successful record, reaching No.24 on the US Billboard 200 album chart. This was followed by Roots of Evil in 1998. In 1997 G Rap was featured on Frankie Cutlass’ “Politic & Bullsht” album track titled “Know Da Game” which also featured Mobb Deep.
He was then meant to release his next album, The Giancana Story in 2000, on Rawkus Records, but due to several complications with the label, the album was pushed back several times, and eventually released in 2002. “My Life” the hit single from the album featuring Talk Box legend G-Wise reached No. 6 on the US Billboard Hot 100 Rap singles charts. He then released a joint album with his group, 5 Family Click, on his own Igloo Ent. label to mild success. In the following years, mixtapes were made and further collaborations continued. There were even rumors of G Rap’s signing to both Rocafella and G-Unit Records, and even at one point Maybach Music. In 2007 he released Half a Klip on Chinga Chang Records, featuring production from, among others, DJ Premier and Marley Marl. A full LP was released in 2011, Riches, Royalty, Respect showcasing his true to form style and lyricism. The promise and prospects of collaboration albums were announced later the next year on his own, newly formed label FullMettle.
Kool G Rap is regarded as a hugely influential golden age rapper. Music journalist Peter Shapiro suggests that he “created the blueprint for Nas, Biggie and everyone who followed in their path”. Kool G is described by Kool Moe Dee as “the progenitor and prototype for Biggie, Jay-Z, Treach, Nore, Fat Joe, Big Pun, and about twenty-five more hard-core emcees”, and Kool Moe Dee also claims Kool G Rap is “the most lyrical” out of all of the artists mentioned. MTV describes Kool G Rap as a “hip-hop godfather”, adding that he paved the way for a lot of MCs who we would not have heard of otherwise. Rolling Stone says, “G Rap excelled at the street narrative, a style that would come to define later Queens MCs like Nas (who was hugely influenced by G Rap on his early records) and Mobb Deep”.
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