A rapper who calls himself Who Am I? Who could that be? It’s Kokane, one of the most peculiar voices of the West Coast. That voice has been silent for a minute or two but is now being heard again thanks to Snoop who decided to employ the – ehm, singing talents of Kokane for the Eastsidaz album and his own latest serving, “Tha Last Meal”. Who Am I? asked Kokane back when he first stepped on the scene. Today reading the name Kokane probably prompts a lot of people to ask the same question: Who is he? Kokane, who couldn’t be called by that name when he debuted in 1991 due to the usual politics & bullshit (Sony distributed the album), was the second solo rapper (not singer!) on Ruthless Records after The D.O.C.
In the history of rap many a rapper have claimed that they are dope or that their product is dope. Unfortunately, that claim didn’t always hold true, and the main reason Kokane has any claim to his name is because he actually sounds a little bit like a rapper +on+ cocaine. Sometimes he’s off beat, sometimes he’s off key and sometimes he’s both at the same time. This tendency showed a lot more on his second album than this first one here. But being somewhat out of the norm is possibly +the+ requirement for being funky and it’s what makes Kokane one of the few funkateers left in the rap game. And while it suits a rapper to be a little insane in the brain, in no way seems Kokane to be out of his mind. One of the main reasons I would check for this rapper even today is the cut he is probably most known for, “Nickel Slick Nigga”, in which he spins the tale of a ghetto kid slipping into the crack game and later changing into the rap game. And to prove I have nothing against rappers making references to drugs, I’ll say that I prefer the remix of “Nickel Slick Nigga” included on the “Deep Cover” soundtrack over the album version because it is – doper.
“Addictive Hip Hop Muzick” might communicate an acute case of nostalgia to those who are old enough to remember. Apart from Cube everybody was still down with Ruthless and Eazy was alive and verbally kicking ass. Plus the album profits from trusty talent such as Stan ‘The Guitar Man’ Jones on bass and guitar and Donovan ‘The Dirt Biker’ Sound behind the engineering board. Soon after Dre would leave Ruthless and Kokane would later dis him on his second LP, “Funk Upon A Rhyme”. But on “Addictive Hip Hop Muzick” he’s enthusiastic about the future of the whole Ruthless posse. “Keep The Flavor” reads like a who’s who of the then-dominating record label on the West Coast, when the entire record roster is name-dropped. But since Laylaw and not Eazy executed the album, Cold 187um produces it (with a little help from the rest of Above the Law and Kokane himself) for Lawhouse Productions. Dr. Dre only had his hands in the mixdown.
The posse cut finale, “U.S.C.’s Finest”, lacks guest appearances by N.W.A members or D.O.C. and instead features Laylaw, ATL and Ms. Kilo. Other noteworthy cuts include “Inner City Hoodlum”, where Kane and 187 portray two business partners who connect on a street level; “Just A Fiend” with his “bitches have to face it – when I step on the scene / you’re trying to go cold turkey, but you’re a Kokane fiend” boast; the pumped up “Pure Kane Nigga”, where Kokane addresses the clubs at home that only play East Coast hip-hop; or the funny infomercial for some substance that is said to help people step up their pimping game, followed by the “Pimp Mentality” to match.
If we go back to the early 90s, nobody really knew what hip-hop would sound like in the years to come. Well, maybe Cold 187um had an idea, since his thick-layered, bone-rattling and booty-shaking funk can be viewed as the predecessor of some of the flavor that was forced down our ears in the 90s. Overall however the beats and rhymes on this album do only so much damage, and it’s not the total wreckage we are witnessing. After all, Kokane is no D.O.C., Cold 187um is no Dr. Dre, hence “Addictive Hip Hop Muzick” is no “No One Can Do It Better”. And it certainly lacks the cutting edge and controversy that made N.W.A’s “Niggaz 4 Life” a bestseller. Nevertheless this is quite potent and very much original. Kokane plays with his voice and sometimes with the words, while 187 plays the drums and the keyboards to a rather funky result. But the one quality about Kokane that really lingers in my mind (and it obviously lingered in Snoop’s mind too) is his vocal diversity. Whether he talks in his street-talking Sweettalk alias, whether he chats in Jamaican patois, whether he displays a calm voice of reason or takes on the pimp daddy persona, Kokane excercises his vocal chords a bit more than the average rapper.