Review Summary: Due to the controversy surrounding it’s release, this album never got the recognition it deserved but it’s on of the best hip-hop releases of all time
One of the best MCs ever, Kool G. Rap had a three album run with DJ Polo, each album better than the last, culminating with their magnum opus Live and Let Die.
Unfortunately, the circumstances surrounding the album prevented it from being as successful as it should’ve been. First off, label Cold Chillin’ and it’s distributor Warner Bros. had suffered a loss in the now infamous Biz Markie v. Gilbert Sullivan sampling case. Warner Bros. was also caught in Ice-T’s ‘Cop Killer’ controversy and thus refused to distribute Live and Let Die
because of it’s violent lyrical content and controversial artwork.
With the release date being continually pushed back, Kool G Rap was able to rework the album along with west coast producer (and Ice Cube contributor) Sir Jinx. It seems that the extra time was used well because as good as Wanted: Dead or Alive
was, Live and Let Die
is even better, the standard set by that album’s ‘Streets of New York’ is upheld throughout this album. With Live and Let Die,
you get to hear what you’re used to from G Rap… only better.
Kool G Rap’s crime tales are at their peak with the phenomenal ‘Ill Street Blues’ a piano driven beat done by then-unknown Trackmasters who contribute three beats. The rest of the production is handled by Sir Jinx and Kool G Rap, the involvement of Jinx gives this a decidedly west coast feel reminiscent of Ice Cube’s Death Certificate
which was done at about the same time. Sampling The Chi-Lites’ ‘Are you my woman (tell me so)’ (better known now as Beyonce’s ‘Crazy in Love’) ‘#1 With a Bullet’ features fellow Juice Crew member Big Daddy Kane and together they rip the mic with reckless abandon and rapid-fire rhymes, just what you would expect from two of the best rappers ever. In another collaboration, G Rap is joined by more legends: Ice Cube and the Geto Boys for the epic closer ‘Two to the Head’ rarely do you have this many great rappers give these kind of performances.
Throughout Live and Let Die,
Kool G Rap sticks to what he does best: gritty crime tales. Why not? He does it better than anyone else, from the opening track ‘On the Run’ to the heist tale ‘Train Robbery’ G Rap paints vivid pictures and engages the listener with his riveting stories. Another thing G Rap does well is make songs about sex, that’s why a compilation called Rated X
was made, compiling his explicit tales. On this occasion it’s ‘Operation CB’ (which stands for cock block) and with all the details he gives, you can feel his frustration on this hilarious track. Probably his best sex song though is the aptly titled ‘F*ck U Man’ where he talks about his sexual prowess but there’s one thing he WON’T do:
But sixty-nining I ain't with that
I'll go to a Chinese restaurant, bitch, if I wanna eat cat
Because you gotta be brave to eat the tuna, G
So when it comes to pussy-lickin', I'm the chicken of the sea
After working with some of the best producers on the east coast for his first two albums, (Marley Marl, Eric B, Large Professor) working with Sir Jinx gave Live and Let Die
a different feel but Kool G Rap is clearly the star here and he puts on a show of epic proportions. At seventeen tracks, Live and Let Die
runs a bit long especially since there isn’t much of a thematic variety but Kool G Rap’s lyricism and delivery are astounding, this is one of the best albums by one of the best rappers ever that unfortunately was overlooked because it was out of print for about fifteen years. The re-issue contains a bonus disk with additional remixes but all you need is the original album, which makes many of it’s contemporaries pale in comparison.
Ill Street Blues
Two to the Head
F*ck U Man