April 17, 2010

Reader Review: Kool G Rap & DJ Polo - Live and Let Die (November 24, 1992)



(For today's Reader Review, P_Captain takes on Kool G Rap & DJ Polo's Live and Let Die, their final collaboration album. Be sure to leave your comments below.)

Kool G Rap & DJ Polo had already released two amazing albums, and were ready to drop their third effort, Live and Let Die. However, their label, Cold Chillin', was hurting after suffering through legal issues regarding some illegally-utilized samples from Biz Markie's I Need A Haircut (the moment sampling in hip-hop completely changed), and when that issue was combined with the controversial album cover that G Rap and DJ Polo conceived, their parent distribution company Warner Bros. refused to work with it, so the label was forced to press it up independently.


Just like every other Juice Crew member who released a solo album, Kool G Rap & DJ Polo decided to get someone else to help them with the production: their first album, Road To The Riches, featured Marley Marl behind the boards, and their second effort Wanted: Dead or Alive saw Large Professor putting in work. For the third trip around the block, the underrated Sir Jinx, who also produced Ice Cube's Death Certificate, receives the honor.


On the previous two albums, Kool G Rap was mostly like other east coast rappers, more of a braggart with impressive lyrical techniques, occasionally mixing in some positive messages amongst the violent and sexual content. But this time here, he seems to have switched up, going all out in full-on gangsta rap mode.


So, how does the end result sound?


(Side note: I'm a fairly new fan of hip hop, so I didn't listen to much of the good stuff until recently, although as soon as I got hold of this album, I was AMAZED! Not to give the review away or anything...)


1. INTRO
Another rap album intro, but this one is better because the theme from The Godfather is featured.


2. ON THE RUN
The perfect starter. Kool G Rap works for a mob family and is forced to quickly leave town after an act of betrayal occurs. He snatches up his wife and kid along the way, but the mob starts to chase him, and G Rap has to take them out single-handedly, making this track an epic chase with some amazing storytelling backing it all up. I prefer the "Al Capone" version with the piano by a long shot, though, so I would have liked it if that made the album instead.


3. LIVE AND LET DIE
The title track. After a lengthy interlude, G Rap discusses inner city life over an awesome beat. The man's storytelling skills are nothing less than amazing.


4. CRIME PAYS
It certainly does, but this song is still rather forgettable.


5. HOME SWEET HOME
This track is about how G Rap's home life is a nightmare to live in. (Not really something I would expect from a rap song, so that's kind of interesting.) While it is still a good song, it isn't one that jumps out on an amazing album like this one. Whoops, I think I gave away he ending of this Live and Let Die review already. Fuck it, you should already know what to expect from Kool G motherfucking Rap.

6. TRAIN ROBBERY
Words can't describe how out of this world this song is, but I'll give it a shot. G Rap and his crew pull off a train heist and the way he relates the tale will blow you away, no matter how high your expectations are.


7. #1 WITH A BULLET (FEAT BIG DADDY KANE)
Big Daddy Kane's career was on the decline around this time, but the man absolutely kills this track, as does our host. I only wish this song was longer.


8. OPERATION CB
G Rap is cock-blocked when he tries to have sex with some girl. This track features two hilarious tales which made me laugh out loud when I listened to it first time.


9. STRAIGHT JACKET
This sounds like a straight up and down West Coast beat, so it's gotta be produced by Sir Jinx, right? Wrong. Surprisingly, the Trackmasters handle the beat, and they capture the Left Coast sound perfectly! Oh, and G Rap's over the top lyrics about being a paranoid wreck are also amazing, by the way: I was reminded of the Geto Boys classic “Mind Playin' Tricks On Me”, although this track is obviously not on par with that one.


10. ILL STREET BLUES
The other Trackmasters-produced track was also one of the singles from Live and Let Die. The beat and lyrics mesh well together.


11. GO FOR YOUR GUNS
I'd take G Rap's advice for sure, because like he says: “What the fuck is a fist fight?” But while the track captures the street atmosphere fairly accurately, it doesn't hold up enough to be considered a gem.


12. LETTERS
The beat forces your head to nod, and I just love the hook, as spelling out G Rap's name is not very easy at a fast speed. And his rhymes are not a let down in any way.


13. NUFF SAID
This song contains a great long, lone verse, but I found myself looking forward to the last thirty seconds of the instrumental, which some of you may remember being sampled in other songs, such as Ice Cube's "Who's the Mack?"


14. EDGE OF SANITY
Here's some more amazing storytelling from our host. As the man falls into the depths of insanity, he conveniently found a recording booth and laid down his thoughts for us to hear.


15. FUCK U MAN
Although the title in no way lends itself to this subject matter, G Rap spends the track's length bragging about his sexual prowess, not unlike what he did on his earlier “Talk Like Sex”. Jay-Z fans may recognize the sample on here as being the same one used on his "Cashmere Thoughts".


16. STILL WANTED DEAD OR ALIVE
This is a sequel to the title track from his previous album. G Rap never ceases to amaze me, and that doesn't change on this song, but in reality, he has steered away from his original formula pretty heavily with this entire project.


17. TWO TO THE HEAD (FEAT SCARFACE, BUSHWICK BILL, ICE CUBE)
Just looking at the line up will scare you. This was the perfect ending for Live and Let Die, with all four rappers completely killing the beat. However, Ice Cube ended up contributing my favorite verse, and the two Geto Boys are as good as ever. (Willie D could have given this song something special had he made an appearance, but he had already departed from the group at the time this track was recorded.)


FINAL THOUGHTS: Live and Let Die was the final album Kool G Rap & DJ Polo did together. And what a way to go out! Every damn song is impressive, to say the least, and the guest appearances were all perfectly fitted into the project. However, Kool G Rap has become way more profane when compared to his first two albums, and DJ Polo's role is reduced here. The production, mainly provided by Sir Jinx, is perfect for G Rap, though, and he flows over it with ease. Kool G Rap became a full time gangsta rapper here (with some time spent essentially creating the “mafioso rap” sub-genre) and he doesn't fail in any way. Some of the tracks are rather forgettable once you turn the CD off, but like I said before, nothing on here is truly bad. This is the best Kool G Rap album thus far.


BUY OR BURN? Buy this as soon as possible. Your collection is dull as long as you don't have this in it. It was out of print for a while, but I understand that this has recently been re-released, so you should pick it up before anything else happens.


BEST TRACKS: "#1 with a Bullet"; "Two to the Head"; "Train Robbery"; "On the Run"; "Ill Street Blues"; "Fuck U Man"; "Live and Let Die"; "Edge of Sanity"


- P_Captain


(Questions? Comments? Concerns? Leave your notes below.)

9 comments:

  1. Was about time for "Live and let die" to get a review...!

    Damn!!! This is a claasic album, a pure gem, because one of the greatest Mc's of all time did his best on this album.

    Your review is OK, P_Captain, you didn't have to say or write about anything more, because G Rap's skills are cure to our ears and this is the reason why everybody should listen this album.

    Well done!

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  2. A.R. MarksApril 17, 2010

    Noice.

    This is my favorite G Rap album, although I only really like #1 with a Bullet, Go For Your Guns and Two to the Head. The rest of it didn't really age well to me.

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  3. wanted dead or alive please :)

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  4. after months of pointless reviews finally i good review of a good album , not as good as wanted died or alive

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  5. The vocal sample in the intro is from "The Untouchables." This album is good, although not as good as it would have been had Gilbert O'Sullivan not fucked it up for everyone. I remember hearing that G.Rap said that "#1 With a Bullet" was far superior in its original mix with some kind of James Brown sample, but J.B. refused to allow the sample because of the violent content. (I guess J.B. would have been okay with it if the song was about beating/killing your wife.)

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  6. And oh by the way, it's obvious that you are new to hip hop because you didn't recognize "Ill Street Blues" as the all-time classic that it is. To date, it remains his defining track.

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  7. AnonymousMay 18, 2010

    This is hearin G rap in his prime and to me Jay-Z doesnt come close

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  8. Usually I hate albums like this. But it's one of my favorites of all time. "Two To The Head"'s beat sounds like something Cream would've written before they got so experimental and left the heavy blues behind. Which means it sounds great, and there are others just as nice. Kool G Rap nails every song. How exactly can he sound so reprehensible and likable at the same time? Classic album.

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  9. giancana stories review?

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