The national recognition for the gritty reality raps began with Ice-T‘s “Colors” and N.W.A.‘s Straight Outta Compton. A student of that second camp, and protege of both Eazy E and Above The Law, Kokane helped affirm the musical diversity and lasting-power of the west coast. Signed to both Ruthless and Doggystyle Records at different career points, Kokane’s made memorable cameos on N.W.A.’s critically-acclaimed EFILFORZAGGIN and Deep Cover soundtrack and as making a name for himself as a solo artist with 1991’s Addictive Hip Hop Muzick.
Almost 20 years have passed and a lot has changed in the musical landscape, with both the west coast and G-Funk taking a backseat in the mainstream. Not to be forgotten as a footnote in Hip Hop culture, this Triple-O.G. who’s lived in The Bronx, Pomona, Los Angeles and Seattle has been committed to resurrecting the west and in keeping his mentor’s memory alive on wax. On his sixth studio album, Gimme All Mine, Mr. Kane makes it known that he’s as real as it comes and staunchly opposed to the seemingly biased treatment that TV networks and radio stations have towards anything remotely resembling gangsta rap. For example, “Twilight Zone” is a triumphant track that bumps while the veteran emcee addresses the aforementioned injustice with aplomb. “Travel the World” and “Gettin’ Ova” (featuring Eternal) are other standout cuts, letting those controlling the media know that, even without their support, the left coast is still getting by just fine and still moving to the beat of melodic rapping accompanied by early ’80s boogie. Last but not least, “Rollin’ on Hoez” is a nice cut that shows naysayers the adaptability of this style of Hip Hop, successfully mixing old-school rhymes about pimpin’ and hustlin’ with the fresh minimalism of new-school jerk beats.
There are, at times, a philosophical conflict of interest on Kokane’s latest offering that hints at why this L.A.-centric movement might not get further than it already has without imploding. Take, for instance, the title track, “Gimmie All Mine” and the blistering “Lay You Down” (featuring Above The Law). Both songs espouse the righteousness of the gangster lifestyle in a very entertaining manner, including the thrill of taking the block from your sworn enemies and getting respect from the cats in your hood. This is all well and good if the album would have kept that singular message throughout its entirety. Instead, the listener is faced with the stark reality of gang culture on the ruminative “Can a Thug Get to Heaven” and the importance of changing self-limiting beliefs that plague the black community on “Made a Difference.” This opposition of ideals is one major reason why gangsta rap might be seen by many as being too one-dimensional of a sub-genre, unconvincing in giving the audience a cohesive musical message that can transcend beyond it’s dark and violent past into a much more bright and peaceful future.
On Gimme All Mine, Kokane takes listeners on a delightful musical journey to the land that gave birth to two musical visionaries, Dr. Dre and Eazy-E. In his attempt to keep Wright’s spirit alive, the Ruthless disciple sheds light on the great west coast boycott by various media outlets with crafty rapping and hella amounts of “untouchable” Funk, both old and new. At the same time, the contradiction between gangsta rap’s wholehearted allegiance to destruction and violence and Kane’s earnest desire to reveal the dire consequences of L.A. street life make it harder to take any of the emcee’s messages that seriously. Will this album convince casual rap fans to give west coast rider music another listen? quite possibly. Has he successfully made a full-length release that echoes Eazy-E’s heralded contributions to the world of Hip Hop? Most definitely. When it’s all said and done, the latter might actually be more meaningful than the things mainstream appeal could possibly bring to this veteran rapper from Killa Kali.