Gangsta rap isn’t what it used to be. Though the content is more or less the same, the authenticity of these hustler-turnt-rappers is undoubtedly questionable. While “real” rappers are few and far in between, there is one lyricist, haling from Ill Street Blues, New York, with an impeccable street credit score and rap credentials to match. If you haven’t already guessed, I’m talking about Kool G Rap. That’s right, your trap rapper’s favorite trap rapper. It’s been more than a minute since he last released Giacana Story (2002) and the Half a Klip EP (2008), and quite frankly, it’s about time.
Though he has remained low key for a number of years, G Rap doesn’t show any fatigue on Riches, Royalty & Respect. In fact, Giacana shows fans that he can still whip up delectable hood stories from the bubbling Pyrex pot that we all love. Baseheads get their first whiff with “Maggie.” No, this isn’t a white girl lost in Corona, Queens, but one could easily mistake this for an overly done Bonnie and Clyde tale. Closer examination, however, reveals that “Maggie” is more about her Asiatic relative, Chyna White, than G Rap’s beloved red head. Of course, Giacana’s fiery wordplay and Gilette sharp wit make for an impressive story. Clever lines like, “I swear my lady can cook/ she put the weight on me/ speed up the pace on me/ even though she flake on me/ she played a part in a movie in Scarface with Tony,” are just the tip of the iceberg for fans salivating to hear more.
Other standout tracks include “American Nightmare,” which is an ominous tale of a bad girl turned worst in her insatiable appetite for goons and paper. The foreboding piano keys coupled with G Rap’s cinematic street storytelling ability make a perfect matrimony, and first man, Havoc, kills the hook. Of course, G Rap wouldn’t be G Rap if he didn’t serve junkies up with some classic boom-bap tracks we all love to hear Giacana demolish such as “Goin In” and “G On”. In “G On,” Giacana spits like a “sharp blade on a pendulum” and goes in. Indeed, “G On” is that head bangin’, mean muggin’, “Oh my Gawd he just said…” record you’ll have on repeat after hearing lyrics like, ” If a giant fall it might kill and injure some/ so I’m still in the game ’til some real legal tenders come.”
However the album is far from flawless, and as most fans can agree, the true Achilles heel of all G Rap albums is not its lyricism, but its production. This is evident on “Ya Chic Chose Me,” which aside from G rap’s razor sharp, polysyllabic wordplay, there’s nothing else to implore a head nod from listeners. Other tracks that find the razor spitter hastening into a dull blade include “70’s Gangsta,” “Pillow Talk,” and “$ Ova B*tches.” Sadly, the best conceptual song on the album, “Harmony Homicide,” suffers the same fate due to its lackluster production. Certainly “Knife Fight” featuring Rick Ross would’ve made for a better substitute out of all the aforementioned tracks above.
Nonetheless, Riches, Royalty & Respect is better than half the garbage that overflows the commode now a days. Yet, just as any legend in the game, G Rap is cursed with having his work constantly mounted against prior releases that have all received critical acclaim. With that said, G Rap’s latest installment is mediocre at best. However, this is just a warm-up for Giacana, and given the right production, he’ll definitely blow the fish out the water whether piranha or otherwise. For the fans, this is still an album worth adding to your collection as it serves as a reminder on who put the “G” in the game first.
3.0 mics out of 5 mics