For lack of a better term, 1995's 4,5,6 was Kool G Rap's comeback. The godfather of East Coast mafioso rap hadn't released a full-length album in three years, and in his absence, a new crop of young cats (namely his Queens neighbors Nas and Mobb Deep) dubbed "the shorties" established a presence.
The last full-length release that we'd seen from G was 1992's Live And Let Die which was credited to Kool G Rap and Polo, and 4,5,6 marked the birth of his solo career minus Polo. Nas' groundbreaking 1994 Illmatic album clearly caught the attention of G, and in a student-meets-teacher move, Nas is featured on the album cover. He is also featured on the popular and acclaimed lead single "Fast Life," which marked a triumphant return for the Juice Crew vet and a solid feature from the newcomer.
Over a loop of "Happy" by Surface, G Rap and Nas trade verses back and forth and split phrases in the spirit of Run-DMC's early style after spitting their individual bars.
"A-yo, our lifestyles exquisite, yayo like a blizzard/esquire attire, standin' on ground with one pivot/two players rockin' silk blazers and diamonds like glaciers/lands with name-brand seats, reclinin' like it's spacious/ bodies on ice, livin' trife, rollin' fixed-up dice /gamblin' grands, handlin' stamps, moves are sheist."
The hook, which is sung in the melody of the smash hit by Surface, helped the song receive prime-time radio play outside of late-night mix shows.
With it's haunting piano loop, the title track "4,5,6" is a ceelo anthem for the dice rollers with G telling tales of "Bettin' Grants with the ceelo champs." "Blowin' Up In The World" tells the rags-to-riches tale of a young hustler who tires of poverty and comes up the best way he knows how. G Rap spits "Roads To The Riches" part two over a Bobby Caldwell classic. "It's A Shame" highlights G's multisyllabic flow with a video that brings the good life to the screen. G masterfully spits, "And once again it's big G, runnin the number rackets wearin' Pelle jackets/ fast loot tactics, I'm well up in the millionaire bracket/ the boss of all bosses, I own race horses and a fortress/ corridors with Olympic torches and Mona Lisa portraits/ jacuzzis and saunas and eatin' steak at Benihana's/ Bentley's limousine the front yard stream is full of piranhas."
"Ghetto Knows" is a cautionary tale about the perils of street life. The Naughty Shorts track provides a perfect backdrop for G to show and prove his relevance in multiple eras. "Take 'Em To War," "Executioner Style," "For The Brothaz" and "Money On the Brain" round out one of G Rap's most solid releases.