Kool G Rap became prominent in the early-1980s as part of the legendary Juice Crew. Based in Queensbridge, the collective had a roster of stars, including Big Daddy Kane, MC Shan, Biz Markie, Masta Ace and many more. However, the Queens group are most known for their battle with KRS-One and Scott La Rock of Boogie Down Productions.
The intense New York rap battle is now commonly referred to as ‘The Bridge Wars’ and helped put both BDP and the Juice Crew firmly on the map. Prior to his membership of the collective, Kool G Rap (real name Nathaniel Wilson) was a fan of hip-hop, and had a lot of influential musical figures close to home in New York.
Wilson grew up in Corona and knew Eric B prior to his fame. However, Eric B wasn’t his primary inspiration as a young man in the 1980s. In an interview with Pitchfork ahead of the 50th anniversary of hip-hop celebrations taking place later this year, Wilson revealed the individuals and tracks that had a profound impact on him before he joined forces with DJ Polo and, eventually, the Juice Crew.
Unveiling his favourite track, Wilson named Slick Rick’s ‘Hey Young World’ released in 1988. Expanding on his decision, Wilson explained, “Every time I hear ‘Hey Young World,’ it gives me flashbacks of hip-hop in its infancy, when I was going to jams and block parties. We were experiencing something that we didn’t know would dominate the world.”
He continued, “This song came around as the floodgates started to open, and it’s really the essence of that era: Rick, KRS-One, Big Daddy Kane, Rakim, and myself really putting the battery in everyone’s back. You don’t get Nas, Raekwon, and Ghost without this era. Rick takes me back to a time before the billions of dollars, before the beefs, when all that was of concern was the music. I love how big hip-hop got, but these were the greatest days of my life.”
It’s undoubtedly one of the finest songs of the genre and if you don’t believe us, you can trust another fountain of hip-hop knowledge, Kool G Rap.
You can listen to ‘Hey Young World’ in the video below.