Nathaniel Thomas Wilson (born July 20, 1968), better known by his stage name Kool G Rap (or simply G Rap, and originally Kool Genius of Rap) is an American rapper. He hails from the Corona neighborhood of Queens, New York City. He began his career in the mid-1980s as one half of the group Kool G Rap & DJ Polo and as a member of the Juice Crew. He is often cited as one of the most influential and skilled MCs of all time, and a pioneer of mafioso rap/street/hardcore content and multisyllabic rhyming. On his album The Giancana Story, he stated that the "G" in his name stands for "Giancana" (after the mobster Sam Giancana), but on other occasions he has stated that it stands for "Genius".
Wilson grew up in the poverty-ridden streets of Corona, Queens, New York with legendary producer Eric B. In an interview with The Source he stated;
Growing up in Corona was like a little Harlem, it wasn't that hard for a nigga to be influenced by the street life type of mentality. I was like 15 years old, Ma dukes couldn't dress a nigga no more and at that age you want a little money in your pocket. That's what gets us all, material possessions. A nigga got caught up in that mentality. Nigga 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 everyday, we was wild shorties.—Kool G Rap, The Source Magazine, issue 72, September, 1995.
Around this time, Wilson was looking for a DJ, and through Eric B., he met DJ Polo, who was looking for an MC to collaborate with.
Juice Crew producer and Mr. Magic DJ Marley Marl knew Polo, and allowed him and G Rap to go to his studio to do a demo, which resulted in the song "It's a Demo." The song was written and recorded in one night, and had Marley so impressed, that he instantly embraced Kool G Rap and DJ Polo as Juice Crew members (it's worth noting that this was the first time G Rap had ever met Marley.) In 1986 on Mr Magic's Rap Attack radio show on 107.5, the duo got their first exposure which created more buzz. They eventually released "It's a Demo" as a single with "I'm Fly", along with two more singles. Shortly after this, Kool G Rap appeared on the Juice Crew's classic posse cut "The Symphony" before they released their debut album, Road to the Riches in 1989. This album and their two later albums, Wanted: Dead or Alive (1990) and Live and Let Die (1992), are highly regarded and considered hip-hop classics. Eventually in 1993, Kool G Rap parted ways with DJ Polo in pursuit of a solo career.
In 1995, G Rap started his solo career with the album 4, 5, 6, which featured production from Buckwild, and guest appearances from Nas, MF Grimm and B-1. It has been his most commercially successful record, reaching No.24 on the US Billboard 200 album chart. This was followed by Roots of Evil in 1998. In 1997 G Rap was featured on Frankie Cutlass' "Politic & Bullsht" album track titled "Know Da Game" which also featured Mobb Deep.
He was then meant to release his next album, The Giancana Story in 2000, on Rawkus Records, but due to several complications with the label, the album was pushed back several times, and eventually released in 2002. "My Life" the hit single from the album featuring Talk Box legend G-Wise reached No.5 on the US Billboard Hot 100 charts. He then released a joint album with his group, 5 Family Click, on his own Igloo Ent. label to mild success. In the following years, mixtapes were made and further collaborations continued. There were even rumors of G Rap's signing to both Rocafella and G-Unit Records, and even at one point Maybach Music. In 2007 he released Half a Klip on Chinga Chang Records, featuring production from, among others, DJ Premier and Marley Marl. A full LP was released in 2011, Riches, Royalty, Respect showcasing his true to form style and lyricism. The promise and prospects of collaboration albums were announced later the next year on his own, newly formed label FullMettle.
His growing interests extended outside hip-hop in later years. He stated in further interviews his desire to begin writing movie scripts, an ambition taken in for a few years as he sought out various collaborators, and even a clothing line was also at one point apparently in the works.
Kool G Rap is regarded as a hugely influential golden age rapper. Music journalist Peter Shapiro suggests that he "created the blueprint for Nas, Biggie and everyone who followed in their path". Kool G is described by Kool Moe Dee as "the progenitor and prototype for Biggie, Jay-Z, Treach, Nore, Fat Joe, Big Pun, and about twenty-five more hard-core emcees", and Kool Moe Dee also claims Kool G Rap is "the most lyrical" out of all of the artists mentioned. MTV describes Kool G Rap as a "hip-hop godfather", adding that he paved the way for a lot of MCs who we would not have heard of otherwise. Rolling Stone says, "G Rap excelled at the street narrative, a style that would come to define later Queens MCs like Nas (who was hugely influenced by G Rap on his early records) and Mobb Deep".
Other artists who have named Kool G Rap as a major influence include Notorious B.I.G., Eminem, Jay-Z, Tajai of Souls of Mischief, Vinnie Paz of Jedi Mind Tricks, Steele of Smif-n-Wessun, Havoc of Mobb Deep, Rock of Heltah Skeltah, MC Serch, Termanology, Black Thought of The Roots, M.O.P., R.A. The Rugged Man, Bun B of UGK, Rah Digga, RZA, Ghostface Killah, Raekwon of Wu-Tang Clan, Lady Of Rage, Big Pun, O.C. of DITC, Memphis Bleek, Kurupt, Pharoahe Monch, Action Bronson and Twista, among others.
He is also often very highly rated in terms of his technical ability and is often ranked alongside other highly regarded golden age MCs, such as Big Daddy Kane, Rakim, and KRS-One. In Jay-Z's track 'Encore', Jay-Z raps, "hearing me rap is like hearing G Rap in his prime". Allmusic calls him "one of the greatest rappers ever", "a master", and "a legend".
A number of rappers, such as Ice Cube, Rakim, Big Daddy Kane, Lloyd Banks, and Nas have put him in their lists of favorite rappers. Kool Moe Dee ranked Kool G Rap at No.14 in his book There's A God On The Mic: The True 50 Greatest MCs, and MTV gives him an 'Honorable Mention' in their Greatest MCs Of All Time list.
Kool G Rap is known for using complex multisyllabic rhymes since his debut (in a similar way to other golden age MCs such as Big Daddy Kane and Rakim), and this remains a hallmark of his style, along with his rapid-fire delivery and "superhuman breath control". Although many of today's MCs use multisyllabic rhymes extensively (such as Eminem, Pharoahe Monch, Nas, Papoose, and many others), Kool G Rap is known for taking the technique to its limits and packing in as many multisyllabic rhymes as possible, sometimes all in the same rhyme scheme for a whole verse, such as on Sway & King Tech's 'The Anthem'.
He has also been cited as one of hip-hop's greatest storytellers, alongside Slick Rick and Notorious B.I.G., with "laser-like visual descriptions", and "vivid narratives". Rolling Stone states that, "Live and Let Die continued G Rap's reign as rap music's premier yarn-spinner".
Kool G Rap provided the foreword for the 2009 book How to Rap: The Art & Science of the Hip-Hop MC, also providing insight into his rhyming technique.
Kool G Rap is often credited as the first rapper to infuse his lyrics with mafioso and hardcore street content. This can be seen as early as 1989 in the song "Road to the Riches" where he makes a reference to Al Pacino (who plays mobster Tony Montana in the 1983 crime drama movie Scarface) – this was long before albums such as Raekwon's Only Built 4 Cuban Linx… (1995), and Jay-Z's Reasonable Doubt (1996) made such references popular.
Since his debut, he has used various references to mob movies in his lyrics, album covers, and titles. For example, the first line of 'Bad to the Bone' from Wanted: Dead or Alive (1990) is, I'm bad to the bone / with a style like Al Capone, the album Live and Let Die (1992) uses samples from the 1987 crime film The Untouchables, the album cover of Roots of Evil (1998) uses elements from The Godfather and Scarface theatrical posters, and The Giancana Story (2002) album title references Mafia boss Sam Giancana.
Rolling Stone says, "before Kool G Rap, New York didn't really have the street rap that could hold its own against what artists such as L.A.'s Ice-T and N.W.A were churning out" and that "G Rap excelled at the street narrative".
His take on crime, violence, and the mafioso lifestyle ranges from remorse and contemplation (e.g. 'Streets of New York', described by Rolling Stone as "a vivid look inside the misery of the hood"), to glorification (e.g. 'Fast Life' featuring Nas).
Wilson briefly dated Karrine Steffans and they have one son together.