Kool G Rap Breaks Down His 25 Most Essential Songs Image by Simon Jones.

Kool G. Rap is a legend. This is an indisputable fact, in the same way that grass is green and water is wet.

The Corona, Queens native was a member of the Juice Crew, one of hip-hop's most dynamic forces in the '80s. His multisyllabic rhyme style has been cited as an influence on rappers such as Big Pun and Nas, and earned a spot alongside Rakim, KRS-One, and fellow Juice Crew member Big Daddy Kane on the Mount Rushmore of golden-era lyricists. He has as strong a claim to the invention of gangsta rap as any other artist, and his "mafioso" street tales set the stage for The Notorious B.I.G. to become "Frank White" and for Raekwon to make his seminal classic Only Built 4 Cuban Linx...

In a recent New York Times profile, L.A. Sunshine of the Treacherous Three said, "Somebody has to be the roots of the tree. Without the roots, that tree doesn't stand."

Looking at it that way, G. Rap represents roots for artists in the game today like Action Bronson and Rick Ross. And more often than not, those artists are more than aware of this fact. On "Encore," Jay compared his lyrical prowess to "G. Rap in his prime." On J. Cole's "Let Nas Down" Remix, Nas ended the song by saying "G. Rap wrote the Bible." And Ross featured G. Rap twice on the Albert Anastasia EP in 2010.

Never one to rest on his laurels, G. Rap has continued to release music that resonates with the underground. In 2011, he released his eighth album, Riches, Royalty, and Respect, with production from Marley Marl and The Alchemist. Just last month, he joined forces with Necro to form The Godfathers and put out album called Once Upon A Crime.

Complex talked to Kool G. Rap on the phone to break down his extensive catalog. His three albums with DJ Polo, his early work with the Juice Crew, the later solo albums, and even his collaborations with artists ranging from Reflection Eternal to Action Bronson. He talked about almost signing to G-Unit, riding around with 2Pac during the L.A. Riots, and the day he brought a young Nas to Def Jam.

As Told to Dharmic X (@DharmicX)

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