• Courtesy the artist

On Facebook, underground hip-hop hero Kool G Rap calls himself “Your Favorite Rapper’s Favorite Rapper,” and that’s no hyperbole. Now 46 years old, he came up in Queens in the mid-80s (an era when it wasn’t yet entirely gratuitous for a rapper to have a stage name with “rap” in it) as part of Marley Marl’s Juice Crew, alongside the likes of Big Daddy Kane, Masta Ace, Biz Markie, and his longtime musical partner DJ Polo. Before long he’d prove to be a formative influence on the Notorious B.I.G., Nas, and Jay Z, among others.

G Rap and DJ Polo released their first single together in 1986 and collaborated steadily till the early 90s. G Rap’s output has slowed a bit since then, but it’s never stopped: Once Upon a Crime, a duo with Necro, came out last year, and the solo album Riches, Royalty, Respect dropped in 2011. He also makes multiple appearances on the new Ghostface Killah album, 36 Seasons.

G Rap’s show at the Shrine on Fri 12/19 celebrates the 25th anniversary of his first full-length with DJ Polo, Road to the Riches, which is often credited with popularizing “mafioso rap.” But for today’s 12 O’Clock Track, I felt like posting something posi, so here’s “Erase Racism,” a cut featuring Kane and Markie from G Rap and Polo’s subsequent record, 1990’s Wanted: Dead or Alive.

Philip Montoro

Philip Montoro has been an editorial employee of the Reader since 1996 and its music editor since 2004. Pieces he has edited have appeared in Da Capo’s annual Best Music Writing anthologies in 2005, 2006, 2007, 2008, 2010, and 2011. He shared two Lisagor Awards in 2019 for a story on gospel pioneer Lou Della Evans-Reid, and he’s also split two national awards from the Association of Alternative Newsmedia: one for multimedia in 2019 for his work on the TRiiBE collaboration the Block Beat, and one in in 2020 for editing the music writing of Reader staffer Leor Galil. Philip has played scrap metal in Lozenge, drummed with the Disasters, the Afflictions, and Brilliant Pebbles, and sung for the White Outs. He wrote the column Beer and Metal from 2012 till 2015, and hopes to do so again one day. You can also follow him on Twitter.