Melle Mel to Rakim: The artists who influenced Kool G Rap
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Melle Mel to Rakim: The artists who influenced Kool G Rap

Kool G Rap is one of the most influential rappers of all time. Hailing from the golden age of hip hop, he helped to bring rap forward from its more rudimentary form, and through lyrical content and complex multisyllabic rhymes, he augmented the genre for the modern era.

His rapid-fire delivery continues to dazzle to this day, and it has been said he has “superhuman breath control”. Kool G is widely hailed as one of the titans of rap, ranked amongst the greatest of all time, sandwiched in time between Slick Rick and Notorious B.I.G.

Another classic element of Kool G’s artistry was how he popularised what became known as mafioso rap, and then latterly, gangsta rap. He spoke about tangible subjects, including the life he led and growing up on the poverty-ridden streets of Corona, New York. 

It was the things he saw growing up, and the life he led outside the confines of the law that infused his work with an edge not yet seen before in rap. He effectively paved the way for the likes of Biggie, Tupac and 50 Cent. 

In a 1995 interview with The Source, he explained: “Growing up in Corona was like a little Harlem, it wasn’t that hard for a n***a to be influenced by the street life type of mentality. I was like 15 years old, Ma dukes couldn’t dress a n***a no more and, at that age, you want a little money in your pocket. That’s what gets us all, material possessions.”

G continued: “A n***a got caught up in that mentality. N***a started selling drugs at a certain point, and all that shit, it’s what was goin’ on in the streets … eventually all my friends got smoked. Everybody was droppin’. All my friends started packing burners every day, we was wild shorties.”

He managed to survive and carve out a stellar reputation in rap. Whether it be with Juice Crew, DJ Polo or as a solo artist, Kool G Rap has had an exemplary career, and been cited as an influence by some of the most vital rappers in the business. Eminem, Jay-Z, RZA, Raekwon, Ghostface Killah and Action Bronson are just a handful that have mentioned him as an influence. 

Given that so many heavyweights have tipped Kool G as an influence over the years, during an extensive interview with the rap titan in 2017 on Hot 97, the interviewers were very keen to find out who influenced him. It came as little surprise that he mentioned some of rap’s classic figures.

He said: “It was a combination of cats… Melle Mel, Kool Moe Dee, Grandmaster Caz, those cats, from that time. But then I became a fan of LL Cool J, I was a fan of Slick Rick, Dougie, of course, Rakim. You could say all those dudes played some sort of part in what G rap shaped itself to become. But the main influences was like Melle Mel, Moe Dee, Grandmaster Caz, my boy Silver Fox of Fantasy Three and all that. Those were the dudes that put the battery in my back.”

It’s safe to say that every rapper from the golden age was influenced by Melle Mel and the like. At the time, rap was just a seedling, and they inspired the generation that would bring it forward, perfect it, and then set the stage for all that was to come in the ’90s and beyond. 

Ironically, in his 2003 book, There’s A God on the Mic, Kool Moe Dee said that Kool G was “the progenitor and prototype for Biggie, Jay-Z, Treach, N.O.R.E., Fat Joe, Big Pun, and about twenty-five more hard-core emcees”. He didn’t stop there. Moe Dee claimed that Kool G is perhaps “the most lyrical” of the aforementioned rappers. 

A huge name, respected by his predecessor and all those who followed, without Kool G Rap, rap would be a very different beast than what it is today. You could say goodbye to the likes of Migos, Tyler and Kanye without his pioneering steps. 

The artists who inspired Kool G Rap:

  • Melle Mel
  • Kool Moe Dee
  • Grandmaster Caz
  • LL Cool J
  • Dougie
  • Rakim
  • Silver Fox

Listen to Kool G Rap discuss his influences below.