It was an honor to see the legendary Kool G Rap live at the intimate Jazz café in London, it’s not every day you get to see your favorite rapper’s, favorite rapper! From Queens, New York, G Rap was half of Kool G Rap & Polo, also member of Juice Crew, has influenced many other critically acclaimed artists, such as Notorious B.I.G, Eminem, Jay-Z and Nas. G Rap is the man who made the integrity of lyrics important and valued in the art of MCing. A huge part of Hip Hop history, starting his career in the 1980’s one of rap’s early pioneers alongside Big Daddy Kane, Shante and Biz Markie.
Kool G Rap may not be as well known by the youth today as the slightly older crowd at the Jazz Café reflected, however it’s important to understand that without his influence we would not have the artists we have today such as Nas. Nas makes a reference to this on the track ‘Made Nas Proud (Let Nas Down Remix)’ by J-Cole, ‘G Rap wrote the Bible’, letting those who admire him know that he admires Kool G Rap as one of the founders of Hip Hop.
The performances started with Saudi born, Eritrean UK Hip Hop artist Awate dropping his track, ‘Jewels’ with DJ Turkish on the turntables. An infectious beat with a nice flow and lines like ‘I reign over the lames like an Eritrean obelisk’ had me listening closely. At one point he explained the origins of his name, being born on Eritrean Independence Day 24th May 1991, his activist parents named him ‘Awate’ to celebrate the victory. It was a powerful story. I instantly wanted to hear more about his story and show him support, his words had power. He spoke about being affected by racism and Islamophobia as a child, his first experience in the British school system was a child refusing to sit next to him as he was Muslim. He then went on to say he knows racism still exists in the teaching system because he was a teacher last year. I wasn’t expecting to be hit with such hard truths but it resonated with me. It’s apparent Awate has a lot to say, I’m looking forward to hearing more, I will be checking out the rest of his discography.
Then Kool G Rap blessed the stage! I was familiar with his music having spent many years in the BBOY scene, those who dance will agree he provided some of the foundation we listen to. For that reason, it was really special to see his stage persona, mannerisms and shapes it came to life, this was real New York flavor. It was a rare glimpse into how things all began, I imagined other rappers who were coming up at the time at a show to see him as I was right now. It was a special feeling, all the nostalgia hit me.
He performed tracks, such as, ‘Ill Street Blues’ and ‘My Life’ I have always loved these beats and flow on these it was exciting to see it live, ‘Rikers Island’ had us wanting to smash something up, with it’s energy, his whole performance brought back that 90’s feeling I so dearly miss. Amidst the show G Rap also gave a shout out to the memory of Prodigy, from Mobb Deep who was also from Queens. This was touching, they had done the track, ‘Where you at’ together, I wished they had done more. The vocals on the hook to, ‘Can’t stop the Shine’ was electrifying. The crowd at the Jazz Café who were mostly hardcore Hip Hop fans were in full appreciation of the performance and during the break we turned to each other to reminisce on the Golden Age of Hip Hop, everyone was feeling good.
The stage show stopped a little early to hold a spontaneous Meet and Greet with fans on the venue floor, which was very pleasing to fans who flocked towards him to get a photo and a handshake. G Rap came across as very approachable and humble considering his cultural significance, it was a great end to the night. We don’t often have the opportunity to see a performance by such historically high-profile artist, I thoroughly enjoyed this opportunity to do so.