More than twenty years after his debut alongside DJ Polo, Kool G Rap is out to prove that he’s aged gracefully. By staying in his comfort zone, one of the originators of rap’s Mafioso sub-genre uses Riches, Royalty & Respect—his fifth solo album (eighth overall)—to again demonstrate this.
For the most part, the Queens native relies on his signature style, where he shines, weaving yarns about illicit scenarios that often include shady vixens looking for a come up. “Should have known better than to fuck with a chicken head/Should have just came for the brain like Return of the Living Dead,” he spits on “Pillow Talk.”
Though the album includes beats from Alchemist (“America’s Nightmare” featuring Havoc) and old Juice Crew buddy Marley Marl (“Money Over Bitches”), a lack of star-level production hinders the release a bit. Even so, a legion of lesser-known beatsmiths build a capable enough backdrop to showcase G Rap’s New York grittiness. On “70’s Gangsta,” Leaf Dog crafts swelling horns for Giancana to kick a flow that reveals what he’d sound like if he were a Blaxploitation-era rap hero, while “Pages of My Life” finds DJ Supa Dave cooking up crisp drums for G Rap’s autobiographical bars.
Sure, there’s no radio-friendly material to fit the current cookie-cutter format, but that was never G Rap’s forte. Riches, Royalty & Respect will appeal his fanbase, as it reinforces that the impeccable rhyme skills that propelled the Kool Genius to rap reverence have not diminished over time. —Alvin Blanco