Wednesday, January 7, 2015

Revisiting Kool G Rap's "The Giancana Story"

After dropping three straight classics with DJ Polo in the form of "Road To The Riches," "Wanted Dead Or Alive," and "Live & Let Die," and two dope yet slept on albums (1995's "4,5,6" and 1998's "Roots Of Evil"), Kool G Rap returned in 2002 with the somewhat long awaited album "The Giancana Story." Prior to its release, I remember hearing about the delays it was experiencing at the time and after conducting some additional research (thanks to Wikipedia), my recollections were confirmed. It was supposed to be released in October 2000, but due to some type of label issues with Rawkus, it was delayed for two years and eventually it was released on Koch Records. And check this out, a number of songs were cut from the original release (and to this day no one knows why). Take a look at this lineup of songs that did not make the final Koch version:

"First Nigga (DJ Premier Remix)"
"Ride On" (featuring Jagged Edge)
"G Rap is a Villian" (featuring Ma Barker)
a remix for "Round & Round" with Jonell
"Keep Goin" (featuring Snoop Dogg and Devin the Dude)
"How It Feel" (featuring Havoc)
"Y'all Niggas" (featuring the Black Guerrilla Family) <--- This was renamed "Planet of the Apes" 
"This Means War"
"Nobody Can't Eat"
"Ordinary Love" (featuring Ma Barker)
"Why You Gotta Do It Like That" (featuring Ma Barker)
"Thug Out" (featuring Black Child, Tah Murdah, Jinx and Ma Barker)
"Spill Blood"

Wow, that's a lot of cut material right there, and I'll have more to say about this at the end of the revisit.  In addition, I ended up copping this one in early 2003 from FYE. So with all this said, let's go back to 2002 for this one!!

Release date: November 26, 2002

1. "Thug For Life"
Produced By Younglord

This very dope opener is what I would call "vintage G Rap." Granted, it may be something we have heard before, but G Rap makes this joint work to the fullest extent, plus it sounds better than I remembered.
*4 out of 5*

2. "Where You At"
Featuring Prodigy
Produced By Bink!

With or without Havoc, this was far from "The Realest" on Mobb Deep's "Murda Muzik" album. This song is good, featuring a dope verse from G Rap, but I can't say the same about Prodigy's verse. Lyrically, Prodigy was not sharp at this point and in my view he was still reeling from the lyrical assault from Jay-Z thanks to "Takeover." With all due respect, this song would've been a little better with G Rap by himself spitting an additional verse.
*3.5 out of 5*

3. "Holla Back"
Featuring AZ, Tito and Nawz
Produced By Buckwild

Tito and AZ come with decent verses here, but G Rap and Nawz kill this one, especially the latter who almost steals the show on a song with G Rap, which is not an easy thing to do.
*4 out of 5*

 4. "It's Nothin"
Featuring Joell Ortiz
Produced By Ghetto Pros.

Oh man, I can tell I haven't bumped this one in quite some time, because I'm JUST realizing that Slaughterhouse's own Joell Ortiz was on the hook for this song. The song itself is an aggressive, lyrically gangstafied, fast paced one (G Rap said "he'll give ya body and nuts a divorce"). 
*4 out of 5*

5. "Drama (Bitch Nigga)
Produced By Amar

Simply put, if you want (lyrical) drama with G Rap, bring it. Trust me, he got you covered!
*4 out of 5*

6. "Thug Chronicles"
Featuring Havoc
Produced By Ghetto Pros. and FB

Months after this album came out, Mobb Deep dropped "Free Agents: The Murda Mixtape" and on the bonus disc, there was a version of this song with a different beat. Needless to say, this one right here is much better than "Where You At."
*4 out of 5*

7. "Blaze Wit Ya'll"
Featuring Jinx Da Juvy
Produced By Rockwilder

".....Then pop goes the weasel/If niggas want it, then pop goes the eagles/We can draw guns and rock like the Beatles" -G Rap

The line above is one of several that effectively define this Rockwilder produced banger. G Rap and Jinx go in here and when you're rapping over a beat like this, you can't do nothing but go in hard.
*4 out of 5*

8. "Black Widow"
Produced by Jaz-O

Man, if a movie was made with this title and based on this one song, it would serve as a hell of a theme for it, no doubt. G Rap tells the story of a widow, who has been married 5 times, does everything you can think of (as outlined in the hook) and can take care of herself all at the same time. This is an excellent form of storytelling (nothing new for G Rap), must be heard to be appreciated.
*4.5 out of 5*

9. "Fight Club"
Featuring Shaqueen
Produced By Frank Nitti

G Rap comes with the "double time flow," which may or may not have been the first time he utilized this in his career. He does a damn good job with it too.
*4 out of 5*

10. "My Life"
Produced By V.I.C. and Mike Heron

Even down to the Roger Troutman inspired hook, this is less an introspective look into the life of G Rap and more of a day (or days) in the life of G Rap. Very good song all around.
*4 out of 5*

11. "Good Die Young"
Produced By Younglord

G Rap goes into every description possible to paint that verbal picture, showing why the "good die young."
*4 out of 5*

12. "The Streets"
Produced By Buckwild

This is where it all goes down. There's no a story being told, but G Rap comes with an aggressive approach, showing that any and everything can happen in the streets.
*4 out of 5*

13. "Gangsta Gangsta"
Featuring The Black Guerrilla Family (Ma Barker, 40 CAL Hammerz and Glory Warz)
Produced By Dr. Butcha

I may be overrating this one, but I've always liked it a lot, mostly because of the beat and lyrically it's dope too (all involved came with dope verses). Remember my recent review of the "5 Family Click" album and I talked briefly about this song? I stand by my views that NONE of the songs on that album matches this one overall, especially in terms of lyrics and production.
*4 out of 5*

14. "My Life (Remix)"
Featuring Capone-N-Noreaga
Produced By V.I.C. and Mike Heron 

This CNN assisted remix was just as dope as the original version, which finds G Rap, Capone and Noreaga and rapping over the same beat.
*4 out of 5*

Wow, right off the bat I'm increasing my initial 4 star rating to a 4.5 for this one. It's that good and it has aged well in my view (I guess it was bound to happen considering how long it has been since I bumped it). Over some VERY good production, G Rap was still lyrically sharp at this point, and if you ask me, his style throughout this album was honestly "4,5,6 level" stuff. The (constant) delays didn't help this album at all, because it was very slept on when it came out, and only the hardcore/long time G Rap fans would've been checking for this one.  In addition, I don't think the cutting of the songs listed up top hurt this album, but I'll tell you one thing, having them remastered and released in a "Lost Tapes" esque format would be the way to go (they have to be in a vault somewhere as we speak)). Also, after listening to this again, it's clear to me this is the last true great G Rap album, because subsequent albums, the aforementioned "Click Of Respect" joint with the 5 Family Click, the "Half A Klip" and "An Offer You Can't Refuse" EPs, the VERY underwhelming "Riches, Royalty, Respect," album and the "Godfathers" with producer Necro, pale in comparison to "The Giancana Story" on all levels. Lyrically and verbally speaking, he hasn't been the same since and sadly he hasn't gotten better with age at this point.  Overall, I strongly recommend "The Giancana Story," especially to those who haven't heard it before and for those who own it but haven't played it in quite some time. This is the last time we would hear G Rap in his prime.

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