With DJ Polo by his side, Kool G Rap released three albums on the Cold Chillin’ imprint between 1989 and 1992. The first two releases (Road To The Riches and Wanted: Dead Or Alive) were respectable albums, while the third (Live And Let Die) was very uneven and easily the weakest out of the three. Even though the duo’s catalog never experienced a lot of commercial success, they were able to develop a cult like following on the underground scene and G Rap would earn his respect as one of the best to ever grip the mic, influencing many of the next classes’ top-tier emcees that came after him. In 1993, G Rap and Polo decided it was time to part ways, as G. Rap would pursue a solo career, releasing his first solo album, 4, 5, 6, in September of 1995.
G Rap would call on Dr. Butcher, T-Ray and Buckwild to sonically sculpt most of 4, 5, 6, which would also be his final release on Cold Chillin’. The album received mixed reviews upon its release, but like most of his catalog before it, the streets and underground embraced it.
I haven’t listened to 4, 5, 6 (whose title is a reference to a combination of winning numbers rolled on dice in a game of cee-lo) in years and most of its fuzzy in my memory bank. Let’s take a stroll down memory lane together and see how this turns out. Shall we?
Intro – The album begins with a skit that has a bunch of dudes partaking in a game of cee-lo, before G Rap shows up to the scene talkin’ big shit and gets involved. This bleeds into the next song…
4, 5, 6 – Dr. Butcher laces G Rap with some dusty boom bap shit that our host uses to share the intricacies of his cee-lo game, and of course, he always walks away the winner. What did you think he would say? He’s a rapper.
It’s A Shame – This was the lead single from 4, 5, 6. G Rap uses this one to list off and brag about the finer things and the lavish lifestyle that drug dealing has afforded him. G Rap’s boastful tone contradicts the guilty mood that Sean Brown’s crooning evokes on the hook, but I’m sure most street pharmacists wrestle with both sides. G Rap’s automatic weapon style flow works well over the smooth but hard backdrop.
Take ‘Em To War – G Rap invites B1 and Grimm (aka MF Grimm) to join him on this posse cut, as the threesome prepare for war and spill their foes’ blood all over the track. Grimm and B1 do a decent job warming things up for G Rap, who comes in on the final verse and completely murders shit (no pun intended): “I’m rainin’ on em’ (faster nigga), on yeah, we’re gainin’ on ’em, (Oh shit, he’s with somebody else) fuck it, put his brain on ’em, boom boom, no survivors, lift the nigga out his seat, when they find ’em, he’ll be a backseat driver, but I ain’t finished with the trigger yet, I’m lightin’ up a cigarette. Bang! Bang! I left another niggas wet”. T-Ray’s instrumental is kind of drab, but the dimness kind of works behind the threesomes’ bleak content.
Executioner Style – Our host continues on with his murder mission, riddling off witty punchlines like a machine gun with his signature lisped vocal that will leave you with laughing cramps: “Cause what I carry’s, much bigger than Dirty Harry’s, do a Hail Mary, I make Bloody Mary’s out of your capillaries, pieces of flesh, hangin’ off a niggas chest, cause the vest that he dressed, couldn’t fuck with the Smith N Wes.”. If you can listen to this song and not laugh at least once at one of G Rap’s hi-larious bars, go to your local Wal-Mart or Target, immediately and buy a sense of humor. I wasn’t crazy about the generic hook or Dr. Butcher’s sleepy instrumental, but G Rap spits his strongest bars of the evening by far on this one.
For Da Brothaz – This is probably my favorite song on 4, 5, 6. T-Ray provides a somber instrumental for G Rap to reminisce over a few of his fallen comrades. The backdrop never gets old and it sounds even better when listened to after hours.
Blowin’ Up In The World – Buckwild gets his first production credit of the evening, looping up Bobby Caldwell’s “What You Won’t Do For Love” (which was a popular loop in the mid-nineties) that our host uses to celebrate his rise from rags to riches. Buckwild’s interpretation of the sample definitely has a happy feel than the ones I’ve heard prior. This was solid.
Fast Life – This was the second single released from 4, 5, 6. Nas drops by to exchange Mafioso raps with G Rap over a breezy Buckwild backdrop that I always assumed was produced by L.E.S, because of the low hanging fruit eighties R&B rip (Surface’s “Happy”), which seemed to be his bag on his early production work (see Nas’ “Life’s A Bitch” or AZ’s “Sugar Hill”). Regardless, this was a solid duet from the two Kings from Queens.
Ghetto Knows – More violent tales from the streets over a serious sounding Naughty Shorts instrumental. It’s not a terrible song, but easily the most skippable one on 4, 5, 6.
It’s A Shame (Da Butcher’s Mix) -Dr. Butcher loops up the same sample Diamond D used for the outro on Stunts, Blunts & Hip-Hop for this remix. The dusty boom-bap and the absence of Sean Brown’s vocal on the hook definitely give this mix a grittier feel than the O.G. mix.
Money On My Brain – Kool G Rap ends 4, 5, 6 with a bouncy Dr. Butcher produced backdrop, as B1 and Grimm make their second appearance of the evening and get out rapped by their host for a second time on this ode to money. I didn’t care much for this one, but I guess with only ten tracks prior, G Rap felt he had to fill the album out with something.
I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: Kool G Rap is one of the most underappreciated emcees in the history of hip-hop. Even though at times his lisp makes understanding his swiftly-paced rhymes hard to understand, he is upper echelon when it comes to witty wordplay and clever punchlines. On 4, 5, 6 we get glimpses of vintage G Rap from his days with DJ Polo, but much of the album is flooded with Mafioso raps and our host embracing the underworld persona that begin to become prevalent on Live And Let Die. Don’t get it twisted: Mafia G Rap can still rhyme better than most of his contemporaries, and he does a good job of painting vividly violent bars over a solid batch of boom-bap instrumentals. Overall, 4, 5, 6 is a fairly entertaining listen. It’s just hard to see one of the teachers playing the role of the student.