Kool G Rap & DJ Polo

Road to the Riches

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Kool G Rap & DJ Polo's Road to the Riches had been a long time coming when Cold Chillin' released it in 1989. It didn't disappoint. After some successful singles and G Rap's contributions to Marley Marl's Juice Crew, the duo arrived almost fully formed on its debut. Whether boasting (his greatest strength at this point) or spinning tales (which would become his greatest strength), G Rap's knife-edged rhymes -- delivered with the hardest-sounding lisp in hip-hop -- tear through Marley Marl's productions and DJ Polo's scratching with all the ferocity of a pit bull devouring a piece of meat. Though tracks like "Poison," "It's a Demo," and the title track won this record a lot of respect, there are several other moments that help make this a remarkable debut. On "Men at Work," lines like, "I drop rhymes on paper and then build a skyscraper/When I die scientists will preserve my brain/Donate it to science to answer the unexplained" whip by so fast that it's easy to overlook Marl and Polo's perfectly snarling, densely percussive backdrop. Marl's imaginative sampling gleans from all sorts of unexpected sources, like the harmonica from Area Code 615's "Stone Fox Chase," the odd phasings of Kraftwerk's "Trans-Europe Express" (no one used it like this), and the burbling synths from Gary Numan's "Cars" (remember, this was the late '80s). G Rap's occasional homophobic and woman-hating lyrics, along with some production nuances that haven't aged well, are the only hindrances. Aside from that, Road to the Riches showed promise while providing a jolt in its own right.

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