In part 3 of this extensive conversation with Kool G Rap, the Corona, Queens legend debunks a number of rumors, talks ghostwriting, tells about when Big Daddy Kane shot somebody and how he felt when Bell Biv Devoe sampled his voice on their hit record. (Click here for Part 1 and click here for Part 2 of this series.)
AllHipHop.com: How long had the Juice Crew been around before you joined?
Kool G Rap: They had been around for a couple years maybe. I had definitely heard about the Juice Crew before, but that really didn’t become the Juice Crew until they got a G Rap, a Kane, and a Biz. Before they name was really buzzing on the radio they name was already buzzing to me because I was dead smack in the middle of Queens Bridge, between Queens and Corona. I seen them bubbling from beneath.
AllHipHop.com: Did you ever work with Tragedy (Intelligent Hoodlum)?
Kool G Rap: I knew of Tragedy before I even heard of the Juice Crew, he goes even before me. I didn’t work with Trag too much. I worked with Kane more, worked with Biz. I never recorded with Shan even though we was homies, I mean we used to hang out and we would be booked on the same shows, I had a real close relationship with Shan.
AllHipHop.com: Was there any truth in the rumor that you and Kane had a rivalry?
Kool G Rap: There was really no rivalry with me and Kane. I think me and Kane always been in competition but it was always like a friendly competition.
AllHipHop.com: I heard Scoob and Scrap were your dancers first.
Kool G Rap: Nah, not at all. Scoob and Scrap was always with Kane, they was from Brooklyn where Kane is from. Scoob and Scrap was just as much a part of the clique as anybody.
AllHipHop.com: Was that them in the New York Streets video?
Kool G Rap: Those were my dancers. And I have to be honest I had the better set of dancers. They were the TCF crew they had come out with an R&B record on Cold Chillin’, TCF meant The Chosen Few.
AllHipHop.com: I was told a story about King A from the Kings of Pressure, he said Kane accidentally shot him in the arm and ended up giving him that huge Nefertiti chain, a Gucci suit, and some other stuff to keep it out of court.
Kool G Rap: Yeah. That was a true incident that did happen. I don’t think he was trying to shoot nobody really. It was a small caliber gun and he was trying to shoot out the window, but by the bullet being a small caliber it kind of bounced off the window and hit somebody. (Laughs)
Nobody never wrote nothing for G Rap. I wrote for Shante and I produced for Shan. I wrote a whole song for Shante called ‘Straight Razor.’
-Kool G Rap
AllHipHop.com: Who was writing for who within the Juice Crew?
Kool G Rap: Nobody never wrote nothing for G Rap. I wrote for Shante and I produced for Shan. I wrote a whole song for Shante called Straight Razor. I wrote at least two songs for Shante and it was more like the horror s###. Kane wrote most of the radio commercial records and when they wanted something more sinister and lyrical then they came to G Rap to give her that element for her albums. I believe Kane may have wrote some stuff for Biz but I know the main writer for Biz was Grandmaster Caz from Cold Crush Four.
AllHipHop.com: I love the Cold Crush, one of the best crews ever. Caz is the f*cking dude.
Kool G Rap: My favorite groups was Cold Crush Four and The Force MCs. USA Rollerskating rink in Queens I seen Cold Crush Four and Force MCs before they was the Force MDs. The Cold Crush used to come out a little dressy because rappers back then used to dress up. They wasn’t as dressed up at Soul Sonic Force or Melle Mel and the Furious Five but they was dressed up. I guess they lacked the same amount of money. Rappers didn’t really come out in street wear at that time. When I first heard the Cold Crush I was already loving Hip-Hop but to hear the routines and the harmonizing they took it from the level of the Yes yes y’all, to the beat y’all, and they would take harmonies from songs that you know and convert them to Hip-Hop and rap form, and the beats they were doing it over those were the ultimate break beats of that time, sh*t like Rocking in the Pocket. Oh my God, what they were doing was hot. That was a hell of a time for Hip-Hop.
When I was younger I thought Kool Moe Dee of the Treacherous Three was one of the most phenomenal rappers ever, him and Melle Mel. I never thought Soul Sonic Force was no phenomenal rappers to me they just made great records and thats the credit I give them, but DJ Bambaataa I give a lot of credit because he was one of them dudes that helped push Hip-Hop period to the forefront, cause his name’s been prominent from a very long time ago. Kool Herc might have started it and everybody knew Kool Herc, but Bambaataa I think pushed it out there more and more because his name started to eclipse Kool Herc.
The Juice Crew – the 1980’s
AllHipHop.com: I talked to Scorpio and he told me that Furious Five basically invented modern rapping.
Kool G Rap: DJ [Grandmaster] Flash took it to a whole ‘nother level, they started to bring it from the parks and into the radio, to put Hip-Hop in its first vehicle to take it all the way mainstream. But I remember Funky Four Plus One before the Furious Five and they was rapping. I heard people rapping and became influenced before I knew who the Furious Five was. There was a Rapper named Ray Rock, they had Silky Sam, they had crews and stuff back then, a clique of girls called the Fly Girls, these are people from my neighborhood. I remember DJs from my neighborhood, Disco Twins they was a prominent name in Queens, DJ Polo, DJ Smalls, C and C crew. I was rapping and stuff soon as I heard it. But I was more mimicking other peoples s### then. I didn’t really get deep and write until age 13, when I had all my own written s###. Back when it first started, there wasn’t a whole lot to rapping, it wasn’t like you had to write verses. It was like Yes yes y’all, to the beat y’all, freak freak yall, ya don’t stop, this is like the beginning stages I’m talking about. The rapper that really inspired me and really created the burning flame in me to be better than everybody was a rapper by the name Silver Fox of the Fantasy Three. He was a problem. At the time when the best rappers were Kool Moe Dee and Melle Mel, when I heard Silver Fox I was like Oh my God they got someone better than the f*cking best! He sounded futuristic, like he was from 5 years in the future. On the underground level he was like a monster, he was a beast. A lot of cats was scared of Silver Fox, because of his skills.
The pioneers and the dudes who really brought Hip-Hop to the masses was Run DMC, Furious Five was hot but they had a lot more records that was loved by the hood, except for The Message and White Lines which broke big on the radio. The first artist to take that sh*t completely over the top was Run DMC, they introduced us to the whole world.
“When (Bell Biv Devoe) came to New York for the ‘Poison’ video they had me in the video, I don’t know if that was a way to keep me cool so there wouldn’t be no lawsuits.” (Laughs)
-Kool G Rap
AllHipHop.com: I have an old tape of the Juice Crew tour in London in like 1989 where at the beginning of your set it sounds like maybe you dissed Ultramagntic Emcees and the Get Fresh Crew in your routine.
Kool G Rap: Did I?
AllHipHop.com: Maybe it was Polo, you started the set saying We are not… and Polo dropped the record that said Ultramagnetic then you went And we are not… then Polo dropped The Get Fresh Crew and the crowd went ape sh*t.
Kool G Rap: (Laughs) Wow! Yeah I do remember that. You talking ancient history right now. At the time I didn’t know them like that but I did have a respect for them because I liked they records. There wasn’t any intention to diss, it was just showmanship.
AllHipHop.com: Bell Biv Devoe sampled you on Poison and it was a huge smash, did you ever meet them?
Kool G Rap: There was times we did meet, there was even a Cold Chillin / BBD basketball game. They slaughtered us! You would think Kane and Shan and G Rap could ball because we was more like the street dudes who would be in the courts, I know I used to be in the parks playing. We had no idea that these dudes could ball. Them dudes slaughtered us! (Laughter) When they came to New York for the Poison video they had me in the video, I don’t know if that was a way to keep me cool so there wouldn’t be no lawsuits. (Laughs)
AllHipHop.com: How did you find out they had used your sample?
Kool G Rap: I heard it on the radio like Oh sh*t thats my voice!
AllHipHop.com: How do you feel about sampling and compensation, being as you’ve been sampled but also you’ve used hella loops on your records?
Kool G Rap: I have two ways I feel about that. I feel if somebody uses your whole creativity and makes profits without giving some kind of reward (payment) for that, I mean that’s one thing. But something as limited as taking your voice is more a complement than anything. It was an honor to me, that they would want to use G Raps voice saying Poison in the song and use it as many times in the song as they did. If I was thinking more back then I might have used it as an advantage to say, Listen, I need a song with Bell Biv Devoe on it. Especially at that time, that was like they heyday.