Kool G Rap’s story has always intrigued me. This is a man who is widely considered a hip-hop pioneer for his early work with DJ Polo and The Juice Crew. Nowadays Kool G is still relevant, although he’s passing off third-rate mixtapes with the likes of DJ Whoo Kid among others. A whole hip-hop culture unto itself indeed. What’s really fascinating is how G Rap was able to outlast many of his peers. Rakim, Public Enemy, UMC, and most of his fellow Juice Crew have fallen into relative extinction. However, Kool G has quietly been keeping his name alive.
Also notable is the change in style. When G Rap was a member of the Juice Crew, his rhymes were well… kind of corny. Not compared to Biz Markie, but still, if you listen to his really early material you’ll notice that he emulated the times. Few years pass and KGR really takes hold of his true identity. Starts to patent his trademark rapid flow, the mafioso image, and the pentasyllabic rhyme scheme. About the time when he drops 4,5,6. This is one of those albums that got shitted on upon first release, but people grew to love it. Seems like a very common occurrence throughout hip hop history. On an extremely random note, did anyone else know that Kool G had a kid with Karine Stephans (you may know her better as Dick Tonsil or Supa Head)?
Isn’t it like an unwritten rule somewhere that the title track is never any good? Regardless that’s not the only surprise here. A certain Nasir Jones (who appears later on this album may I add), is sampled here almost directly in the same way that Sean Carter did it. Maybe Nas didn’t take offense to it, because it was done so sloppily. Seems like Dr. Butcher isolated the half-second he needed and just stuck it onto the hook. Regardless, one of the best odes to rollin’ dice ever.
It’s A Shame
The description of Tammy is priceless.
“Her name is Tammy, got a beach house in Miami
Rides around with a small jammy in her silk and satin panties
A down hoe, a Foxy Brown hoe, standin her ground hoe
And if you clown yo she’ll turn into a bust a round hoe”
One of G Rap’s premier ventures at storytelling, only weakened by the dime-a-dozen hook. Regardless, this is one of those tracks that attempts to be a laid-back cross between sultry R&B and softcore hip hop. It succeeds at neither, but KGR’s mastery in Aesop, makes you totally neglect everything besides the word’s coming out of his mouth.
Take ‘Em To War (Feat. MF Grimm and B1)
One thing that has steady amazed me is how many producer’s sample David Axelrod. I’ve never been a big Grimm fan, especially his later work, but his verse here is pure brilliance. Doctor Death. Following Grimm’s beast of a verse is early Rawkus legend B1. Launching an onslaught of lyricism that lasts for just one minute, but is remarkably vivid in it’s duration.
This is where G Rap truly shines, a minimilastic beat with soft vibrations and vicious drums, which let’s KGR excel by throwing all sorts of alliteration and assorted rhyme schemes into the mix. One of the most violent and grotesque tracks you’ll ever hear ( “I make Bloody Mary’s out of your capillaries”), but it’s hard as fuck not to nod your head to this one.
For Da Brothaz
What would be just another ‘pour one for the homies’, is immeasurably improved by KGR’s lyrical prowess, but even that doesn’t rescue this song from mediocrity.
Blowin Up In The World
Not enough can be said for Buckwild’s production on this cut, I won’t attempt to do it justice, mixed with yet another KGR lyrical annihilation this track proves immaculate (word to Franco Harris).
Fast Life (feat. Nas)
This poppy instrumental has always reminded me of Miami in the ’80’s. The 20 second intro adds to that element. Lame-ass hook, but Nas and KGR combine to firebreath for a good four minutes.
As someone who almost always has something bad to say about the hook, I’m rendered speechless here. Very well done. This has always seemed like a logical outro to me, so this is where we’ll end.
I think it’s fair to say that 4,5,6 is not a very well-produced album, an mirror image of Lifestylez ov Da Poor and Dangerous with average instrumentals and ‘way before their time’ lyricism. This album is a benchmark to the rapid-fire flow, never would any rapper spit half as fierce as KGR on 4,5,6, but countless rappers would try their hand at it. Well, imitation is the highest form of flattery Mr. Wilson.
0-20: Terrible listening experience
21-40: Maybe one good song
41-60: A few good songs
61-80: Half are good songs, half are weak
81-100: Great listening experience, almost all are great songs
I gotta give this one an 93.