Before Ghostface Killah and Nas, there was Kool G. Rap, polysyllabic yarn-spinner extraordinaire. Especially on albums with producer Marley Marl and DJ Polo, Wanted Dead Or Alive and Live And Let Die, G. Rap defined an East Coast aesthetic that merged poetic and stylistic intensity with often violent street stories as if he aspired to be the Scorsese or Coppola of Queens.
Half A Klip, Kool G. Rap's first album of new material in six years, is flush with the skills that made him such an influential rhymer in the first place. DJ Premier's suitably moody "On the Rise Again" showcases G. Rap rocking his trademark style in a lyric that alternates between blocks of internal rhymes and slippery cadences. Marley Marl's funk-flavored remix of Live and Let Die's "# 1 With a Bullet" reminds listeners of how both producer and mic-rocker invented the compact formula that made hardcore rap radio-ready by the late ’80s.
This brief set isn't a complete return to form. "Turn It Out" is an unnecessary nod to current Queens kings G-Unit. But when he's dropping the brutal — and sometimes unexpectedly regretful — stories, as he does on the closely observed morality play, "The Life," and the string of tracks featuring lush production by Domingo ("Risin 'Up," "100 Rounds," "What's More Realer Than That"), there are still few better.