Friday, March 14, 2014

Hip Hop Nostalgia 101, Session 30: A 25 Year Retrospective, Kool G Rap & DJ Polo's "Road To The Riches" (1989)

After blessing Marley Marl's classic "The Symphony" along with Big Daddy Kane, Masta Ace and Craig G, it was time for Kool G Rap and DJ Polo's debut, "Road To The Riches." G Rap showed a lot of promise on "The Symphony," and there was no doubt he would show this same promise on here. This review will consist of the original pressing of the album.

Release date- March 14, 1989

All songs produced by Marley Marl

1. Road To The Riches

"When I was 5 years old/I realized there was a road at the end/I would win lots of pots of gold"

That memorable opening line from G Rap sets the perfect tone for this apply titled classic, definitely one of hip hop's best album openers. Striving for the finer things in life is the theme here, told in charismatic form by G Rap.
Grade- A+

2. It's A Demo

"Before I'm competin, you will all be deleted/You said I suck, instead I succeeded/Fan fascinator, I supply data/According to the groove I'm a real smooth operator"

"I'll take a fiend to the extreme/To the climax, and those who sleep will have a wet dream"

Man, those two TIGHT lines above don't do this remix justice (the original version appeared in 1986). I'll tell you one thing, if this is the single that led to their deal, as well as the appearance on "The Symphony," I can definitely see why. G Rap went all out on this one, and when it comes to demos, you really don't hear artists put this much time and effort into it anymore.
Grade- A+

3. Men At Work

Hot damn, there were SO many quotables in this classic banger that I couldn't possibly name them all without listing the entire song. G Rap is lyrically on fire, coming with NICE wordplay and supreme breath control throughout. Men at work, yes indeed, with G Rap on the mic, Marley behind the boards and Polo on the wheels of steel. Amazing.
*Grade- A+

4. Truly Yours

"Way back in the days, you was big as a cow/But look at you now, at jams you say Ow!"

A DOPE letter, in the hip hop form, from G Rap to the chick who felt she was better than him and everyone else. This is what she got. "From G Rap, yo truly yours!" 
*Grade- A+

5. Cars

The flow, lyrics and beat was a direct influence of the Run DMC sound (circa 1984-1986), however, this was not a good fit for G Rap (and that's no knock on the legendary trio from Hollis, Queens). Good thing it was short and to the point.
*Grade- C

6. Trilogy Of Terror

"I run rappers like racers, cut em like razors/Burn em like lazers and stun em like phasers"

 "..... So called MCs will freeze so cold/Then get viewed and examined in a test tube/If you a square you'll freeze in an ice cube"

ANOTHER banger right here, which sounds NICE in the ride to this day, and of course G Rap is ON POINT with the lyrics. G Rap, Dr. Butcher and DJ Polo equals the "trilogy of terror."
*Grade- A+

7. She Loves Me, She loves Me Not

G Rap does one for the ladies with a smooth, laid back vibe.
*Grade- B

8. Cold Cuts

 This was a showcase for DJ Polo's skills on the turntables.

9. Rhymes I Express

 "These rhymes I design is called poetry"

Yes indeed, and the energetic expression of those rhymes is on full display here.
*Grade- B+

10. Poison

 Much like "Men At Work," there were multiple quotables in this banger. I also still wonder who G Rap and Polo were speaking on towards the end, talking about this joint being so dope it'll be immediately biten and Polo calling someone "a big fat, sap sucker." Classic nonetheless.
*Grade- A+

11. Butcher Shop

This is where all the previous classics were made, "the butcher shop." Fitting closer to the album.
*Grade- B

Well, Kool G Rap & DJ Polo's debut was highly effective, a true energetic, dope, slammin, bangin piece of work that has aged SO well. Even a lesser song like "Cars" doesn't bring this album down. G Rap was at the top of his game on the mic and I also feel this album featured some of the most hard hitting beats of Marley Marl's career. Much props and respect to G Rap, Polo and Marley for this classic.

Final grade- A

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