Review Summary: Great start to the career of one of the best, most underappreciated rappers ever.
The Juice Crew was a collection of rappers founded by legendary hip hop producer Marley Marl in the late 80's and although a flashier Big Daddy Kane along with the Clown Prince of Hip Hop Biz Markie gained most of the attention, Kool G. Rap would prove to have the most longevity and was probably the most influential rapper of the crew. Kool G. Rap is also recognized as the originator of the Mafioso Rap and hardcore style, later saying the the G in his name was for Giancana as in mobster Sam Giancana although originally it was for "Genious."
The duo of Kool G. Rap and DJ Polo first came together in 1986 to record the single "It's a Demo," this caught the ear of Marley Marl who produced their debut in it's entirety. On the title track Kool G. raps about what else? Making money, as much a topic twenty years ago as it is today over some powerful keyboard stabs. "Truly Yours" is reminiscent of fellow Juice Crew member Biz Markie's "Vapors" but much harsher, about a girl who left him before he blew up, so now that he made it he disses her starting off with "This I dedicate to the girl I hate" and "You look slick, but you know every Tom and Dick you're more quick than a chick from a porno flick" but he also saves some for her new man "The only picture you got is his mug shot." Over some well placed saxophone notes he talks about this man being in jail and of course being gay "With men, and Len, your real close friend but you wouldn't be his friend if his knees didn't bend" keep in mind that this was done twenty years ago and hip hop has come a long way, you won’t hear this kind of blatant homophobia anymore right? Okay maybe hip hop hasn’t progressed much in that respect.
For "Rhymes I Express," Marley Marl cleverly flips a sample of Kratfwerk's "Trans-Europe Express," the hook being "I'll leave you in a [trans] with the rhymes that I [express]" giving it a bit of an electronic sound. Although he was dissing a girl with "Truly Yours," he shows some genuine emotion and sadness on "She Loves Me, She Loves Me Not" about how much he misses a certain lady that left, a song about love from one of the most hardcore rappers ever! "Trilogy of Terror" contains a harmonica sample and an upbeat tempo where G Rap rips some great multi-syllabic lyrics, this track is a great showcase for both him and Marley Marl who was already one of the top producers in the game. "Cars" is G Rap's take on Gary Numan's song of the same name, seems like a horrible idea but it works with lines like "And you know you get respect cause they’re breaking their necks to see your car" just rapping about driving dope cars and it's a fun, lighthearted moment. Like most albums of the time, this one includes the obligatory DJ showcase "Cold Cuts" although there is some rapping here, it's mostly Polo's track.
Kool G. Rap shines throughout with his rough rhymes and smooth flow, whether it’s a slower track like “Truly Yours” or the faster “Men At Work” where G. Rap drops some great rhymes at a furious pace. DJ Polo’s contribution here is also not to be overlooked, though “Cold Cuts” and “Butcher Shop” are where he really shines, he blends in well timed scratches throughout he doesn’t seem to do it just for the sake of scratching.
Although when discussing MC/DJ duos Eric B. & Rakim are the first that come to mind, Kool G. Rap and Polo, while not having the same popularity, are comparable and G Rap is right up there with Rakim but because there were so many great MCs at the time, unfortunately for Kool G. Rap he was lost in the shuffle among Big Daddy Kane, LL Cool J and the aforementioned Rakim. Even though this duo would put out better albums, they were off to a great start with this album and showed the tremendous potential that would be fulfilled over the course of their next two albums.
Road to the Riches
Men at Work