Wednesday, June 5, 2024

Kool G Rap & DJ Polo – Wanted: Dead Or Alive 4xLP


Cold Chillin' / Traffic (2007, Reissue)

Every Wednesday, in honor of Ed Lover Dance Day from Yo! MTV Raps, I take a break from rock and roll to write a little bit about hip hop. In the late 80s and early 90s hip hop ruled my musical life. During this often called 'Golden Era' I discovered so much incredible music. As I am slowly replacing the CDs I've had for thirty plus years with vinyl copies, I'm going to talk about some albums that had a really important impact on me during some very formative years.

I said the same when I wrote about Road to the Riches a while back, but I didn't listen to Kool G Rap & DJ Polo when they were active back in the 90s.  I just don't remember seeing them on Yo! MTV Raps, though I definitely knew the name from reading The Source.  I think I mainly attribute it to the fact that this album, Wanted: Dead or Alive came out right as I was getting into hip hop, the same summer that Mama Said Knock You Out had come out and completely changed my musical worldview.  I wasn't immediately digging into the more underground sounds or the albums that came out before that moment, so they slipped through the cracks.  And I guess when their final record came out in 1992, it didn't make as big a splash in my world as others.

I eventually fell for Kool G Rap & DJ Polo when the Take It Personal Radio podcast did a show long feature on their music.  I had always been aware of G Rap's reputation on the mic, but I really wasn't prepared for the ferocity that he attacked his lyrical delivery.  Wanted: Dead or Alive is step up in that regard as compared to their debut.  The lyrical content is also cranked up a notch as the mafiosa style that he's reknown for really came into focus on this album.

Production-wise, things are a little darker this time out.  Gone out the bouncy pianos of "Road to the Riches," replaced by slinkier bass lines and pounding kick drums.  While I do actually prefer the first album, you can't argue with a crew of producers that includes Biz Markie, Eric B, Marley Marl and Large Professor.

The version of this album that I ended up hunting down is the quadruple LP reissue that came out in 2007.  In addition to the main album there's two extra LPs full of remixes. B sides and instrumentals.  Is it essential material?  Probably not for most people, but the B sides are great and some of the remixes shine just as strong as the originals.  For me it was worth it.

Kool G Rap & DJ Polo – Wanted: Dead Or Alive:

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