EWA100 - #67. Kool G. Rap & DJ Polo - Road to the Riches

67. Kool G. Rap & DJ Polo - Road To The Riches (Cold Chillin. 1989. From the LP Road To The Riches)

Raven Mack: Before Elemental magazine disappeared from my post office box, they had a feature on that Papoose guy who's supposed to be the latest coming of MC Christ Ghetto-Fab, and the first line of the article said something about how, to paraphrase, "most MCs would say Biggie or Tupac as their favorite MCs ever, but Papoose is one of those strange crazy breath-of-fresh-air pseudo-artists who would say Big Daddy Kane or Kool G. Rap." That's not really how it was written but that's how I read it; and it struck me as odd, because isn't that like common knowledge? I mean, Biggie and Pac sold a lot of bootleg t-shirts as well as posthumous albums, but when it came to actually being an MC, would most people pick them over Kane and G. Rap?
Of course they would, and I'm being a dumbass for being such a whiteboy and thinking Kool G. Rap's international notoriety as the rapper's rapper, the lyricist's lyricist, and the mic wrecker's mic wrecker should be something everybody accepts.
But he is. You see, the rhythmic American poetry-izers tend to break down into people who can do crazy linguistical shit that repeats sounds rapidly and, regardless of what nonsense gobbledygook they're throwing together as word patterns, it creates awe in you. Or they weave together stories that create vivid images, like Slick Rick, and tend to not be as wild with their sound patterns, but more than make up for it with what you see in your head. Kool G. Rap is one of the rare situations where both of those qualities come together. If you want to dork out and get into who did what type of style first or all that jazz, a lot of big time rappers - Nas and Jay-Z and Biggie - owe a debt of daps to G. Rap for laying the groundwork for their own more-famous styles. But beyond that, Kool G. Rap is just awesome. And I'm not sure if DJ Polo actually hooked up beats or not or if he was true old school and the DJ that every group had back then, but it seems the releases that had "& DJ Polo" on them were the best.
Being heavily into Kool G. Rap over the years, this particular song - and era even - sound incredibly dated. But at the same time, when you take into consideration that Kool G. Rap and Big Daddy Kane were both in the Juice Crew, and easily the craziest lyricists going outside of Rakim... crazy. Throw in a young Masta Ace and goofy-assed Biz Markie and it really makes me wonder how the fuck MC Shan could've been punked so badly by KRS-One. Did the rest of the Juice Crew just kinda bail on Shan or what?

Mike Dikk: Kool G. Rap was one of the many casualties of the initial rise of the internet. I know it’s hard to imagine an internet where you couldn’t find every single out of print rap release you’ve ever wanted with a decent amount of searching, but four to five years back, it was hard to find even pretty basic stuff. Most people were only illegally sharing the newest of the new shit and hadn’t gotten full into ripping vinyl and old tapes and Cd’s so a lot of artists who weren’t still current or relevant got left in the dust with all the new music fans coming along, since now music was free and more than affordable to become an Expert Whiteboy. Something happened where whoever controls the section of internet dedicated to music forgot to recognize Kool G. Rap as one of the ten best MC’s of all time. This lead to a bunch of new Exert Whiteboy’s “discovering” Kool G. Rap for the first time in the early 2000s, which was kind of weird. He’s basically responsible for N.Y. Reality Rap, but I guess he forgot to write his name in the history book or something.
Road To The Riches, the song and the album wasn’t Kool G. Rap and D.J. Polo’s best work, but it’s still phenomenal. If this was the only thing you ever heard by them, it’s hard to even comprehend that G. Rap would actually get BETTER at rapping, since at this point, he was still better than most of his peers and leaps and bounds better than 90% of the mainstream rappers around now. Even at this point, the only people in his league were Rakim and Big Daddy Kane, and I always imagined Big Daddy Kane to be the Yin to G. Rap’s Yang. That’s a lame cliché statement, I know, but it’s like they both took Rakim’s then-revolutionary style and expanded on it in two different directions. Big Daddy Kane went for the bragging and the ladies and G. Rap went for that thug shit. It wouldn’t fully blossom until the next record, and I won’t front, I didn’t get into G. Rap until Wanted: Dead or Alive, and even that didn’t blow my dick back as much as Live and Let Die, but now I have a hard time deciding which is better.
Until this list, I never noticed how much the piano sample on this track sounds like the music when you fight Birdo in Super Mario Bros. 2. Now it’s hard for me to get the image out of my head of a pixilated G. Rap and DJ Polo dodging eggs while throwing records back at that stupid dinosaur thing. Boy, did I hate Mario Bros. 2.

Download: Kool G. Rap & DJ Polo - Road to the Riches

No video, so here's Kool G. Rap doing it live at BB Kings. No idea when this was from.