"It's a Shame" was the initial single released from Kool G Rap's first official solo effort 4,5,6. The album is rarely mentioned alongside the sub-genre's plethora of notable works released in the latter half of the nineties. Perhaps the project was a casualty of nostalgia, as many fans are inclined to remember Kool G Rap as a remnant of the previous era despite his irrefutable longevity. Regardless, the album features at least two essential Mafioso rap classics—"Fast Life" and "It's a Shame".
The first verse is manifestly Mafioso. Kool G Rap hurls a barrage of detailed materialistic images before informing the listener these alluring possessions are in fact the fruits of his labor—heroine trafficking and number running. He also compares himself to the infamous Frank Nitti, whose personality ironically completely contradicts the character presented in this song. The theatrics described by the Queens legend are far more analogous to the lifestyle of Nitti's childhood friend and eventual boss Al Capone. Frank Nitti was business driven, quiet, and never desired to capture the limelight. Therefore, one would assume Kool G Rap was referring to the barbarous reputation that earned Frank his "Enforcer" moniker.
Tammy is introduced in the final verse. She's beautiful, cunning, and bears an uncanny resemblance to Sunshine from Harlem Nights. Although Kool G Rap claims to "go all out for his honey", she only exists within this song to reaffirm his Capone-esque lifestyle. The narrator doesn't consider reform, and the emotions of Tammy and the loyal dope fiends that fund his empire are inconsequential.
There is a unique contrast between the lack of empathy displayed in Kool G Rap's lyrics and the other elements of the song, which is completely lost in the DJ Butcher remix often preferred by boom-bap enthusiasts. "It's a Shame" ultimately serves as a vehicle for self-loathing, but only as a result of the soulful Southside Movement sample and a crooning hook stating the not so obvious.
Kool G Rap - It's a Shame