Mafioso Rap Chronicles

CHAPTER ONE: Kool G Rap channels Francesco Raffaele Nittoni.
"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


10 comments:

  1. cos of nas people give fast live too much credit i think, theres better songs on the album. the remix is alright tho.

    its as shame is the bidness tho

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  2. The "Fast Life" remix is wack. The original is a classic. The more recent Cookin' Soul remix is awesome too.

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  3. Underrated album, though it's definitely aged badly production wise. Executioner style is my shit.

    I preferred the fast life remix though, always thought the sample on the original didnt sound like it suited Nas and G rap. Still wish there were more Nas-G Rap collabos.

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  4. Read Ronald D. Humble's "Frank Nitti" biography for a full account. Nitti was a businessman all right, but had a real mean streak...

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  5. Nitti was a businessman all right, but had a real mean streak...

    ^^^^^

    Absolutely. Appreciate the suggestion. I'll check the book out if I ever get a chance.

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  6. Kool G >>>>>>

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