Kool G Rap has been penning rhymes since most rap fans were treating their mama’s wombs like speed bags. With so many Hip Hop stripes, it can be hard to keep the same old as fresh as a new pair of draws. Rather than spit out shrimp-and-lobster stories on the solo tip (like his last disappointing release), OG Giancana passes the torch to NYC poet descendant 38 Spesh on their full-length collaboration, Son of G Rap.
The album is solid proof New York Hip Hop still has a pulse.
“We ‘bout to do this shit for NY,” 38 Spesh declares on the intro. The rest of the LP follows suit, as soulful cries, deliberate drum patterns, and creeping basslines back Spesh and G’s street confessionals and excessive boasting. G plays the wise sensei to Spesh’s up-start apprentice (who even outshines his idol repeatedly).
The three-year-old cut “The Meeting” (which features DJ Premier’s trademarked sampling-n-scratching), finds Spesh outlining a 187 in vivid detail. “I put a nigga inside the grave first/His wedding and his wake was inside the same church/He got married and buried by the same pastor/Funeral, the cemetery the day after,” he snarls. Meanwhile, Kool G Rap gets a little too comfortable in his advisory role, plainly rapping, “Killers move in silence, so I’m moving in stealth mode.”
Sharing wax time with a legend can be daunting, but Spesh’s soup-kitchen hunger and 20/20 focus drags him out of G Rap’s mammoth shadow. Mostly, Son of G Rap is a testament to the fluid chemistry these two share. Both G Rap and 38 body “Upstate to Queens,” which finds them trading bars in-verse instead of alternating verses. They do the same on “G Heist,” on which their graphic bars about crime stand the cut apart from the slew of robbery-related narratives throughout rap. While “G Heist” stands out, Son of G Rap is hindered by its well-worn East Coast vibes. The songs themselves are varied enough, but as a whole, there is little that separates this album from the slew of ‘90s nostalgia records released in the past decade.
Spesh and G wisely bring guests along for the ride, including Rotten Apple stalwarts AZ and Cormega. Ransom blows up “Land Mine” with intentionally explosive quotables for every cameo rapper is as well-placed as a cameo in a Tarantino flick. And the production is impressively cohesive without being redundant. 38 Spesh demonstrate his musical talents with Mafioso piano keys on “Heartless,” while Midnite provides slow, steady drums and a spacy vibe to back “Nothing Gonna Change.” Pete Rock’s beat on “Flow Gods” creates a smooth backdrop for Freddie Gibbs and Mayhem’s “Ohhhh!”-worthy bars.
The project does tail off unimpressively given its hard-hitting opening, howver. The pro-life sentiment heard on “Aborted Child,” 38 rapping as his never-born child is brilliant. However, it’s an odd way to end an album that spends the rest of its time in the gutter. It’s a worthy cut that would have been better served on a 38 Spesh solo album. This collaboration would have been better suited to close with the penultimate cut, “Young 1s,” which features reflective rhymes over slow-rolling funk.
Son of G Rap’s traditionalism keeps it from being groundbreaking. Most of the songs are solid, but only “Flow Gods” and “The Meeting” are worthy of endless repeats. However, new ideas never seemed to be G and Spesh’s intent. Rather, these two pure MCs seem content with making music by the Five Boroughs and for the Five Boroughs.