On this day, July 20, in hip-hop history…
1968: Kool G Rap celebrates his 45th birthday.
The legendary Queens MC first rose to prominence during the hip-hop “Golden Age” of the late 1980’s due to his work with Juice Crew. The rap collective served as the launch pad for such prominent artists as Big Daddy Kane and Biz Markie. Together they released several classic albums, including Road to the Riches, and Wanted: Dead or Alive.
After leaving the group in the early 1990s, Kool released his first solo effort 4,5,6. The album was his most commercially successful, peaking at No. 1 on the R&B/Hip-Hop chart and spawning several crossover hits. In 2002, he scored a Top 5 hit on the Billboard Hot 100 with “My Life.” He went on to release several more albums, most recently 2011’s Riches, Royalty, Respect.
The venerable rapper is often cited as one of the most influential of all time, having paved the way for everyone from Biggie to Eminem to Jay-Z. Even contemporary artists like Action Bronson list him as an early influence. He is working on a new album—entitled Hustla’s Bible—that is rumored to be released this year.
Happy birthday Kool G Rap!—Chris Mench