First Impressions: The 50 Best Album-Opening Songs in Rap History

34. Kool G Rap "Streets of New York" (1990)

Producer: Kool G Rap, Large Professor, Anton
Album: Wanted Dead or Alive
Label: Cold Chillin'/Warner Bros. Records


"Streets Of New York" sounds like the Beatles' "Dear Prudence" done Blaxploitation style. Is that a harpsichord being played through a wah-wah pedal? Excuse me, waiter, but my smooth jazz sax is starting to melt! How did DJ Polo do it? Answer: he didn't. The imagery is so relentlessly bleak that Kool G Rap sometimes sounds exhausted by the demands of his own list: "Every day is a main event, some old lady limps / The pushers and pimps eat shrimps." When he finally explains the mystery behind that wonky saxophone—"Blind man plays the sax: A tune called 'The Arms On My Moms Show Railroad Tracks'"—you start to get the feeling that this part of town might not be for you, regardless of that gloriously moist harpsichord. And yet despite the dreamlike horror of his hometown tour you get the feeling that you'd never be able to convince G Rap to live anywhere else.Sam Sweet

Tags: kool_g_rap
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