Ras G Ras GDown 2 Earth
Ras G returns to earth and to Ramp Records to grace us once more with his potent musical brew. Following from releases on All City, Brainfeeder and Leaving Records in the last two years – some of which were released under his Ras G and the Afrikan Space Program moniker – this is Ras’ third full length release. By virtue of its title, not featuring the A.S.P, it’s a return to a simpler hip hop sound that’s reminiscent of his earlier pre-A.S.P. output – as collected on the Japanese-only “Beats Of Mind” compilation back in 2007.
An essential part of Los Angeles’ beat scene revival since the mid-00s, Ras G is one of those truly unique producers who stands proud alongside his contemporaries by sticking to his musical beliefs no matter what. One of the things I’ve always loved about Ras’ music is that it blends sound system sensibilities (bass heavy, wall of sound approach in a similar way to the likes of The Bug) with Sun Ra-like experimentalism and a hip hop mind-set; that results in a whole which is hard to resist and which you won’t find anywhere else. Or put more succinctly, Ras G’s music is truly unique and dope.
“Down 2 Earth” offers up 21 musical nuggets (only five tracks make it barely over 2 minutes in length) of Ras G’s ghetto sci-fi style, in a manner reminiscent of beat tapes, but with a stronger cohesive feeling. In the 25 or so minutes that the album lasts, Ras weaves a story of sorts via sonic collages, deft sampling, experimental processing and addictive rhythms that takes the listener on a journey. Firmly anchored in the hip hop and analogue realms, “Down 2 Earth” leans heavily towards traditional boom bap yet balances it out with a degree of more modern beat experimentation. It’s that line he draws between old and new school sensibilities that makes “Down 2 Earth” all the more pleasing, and should help entice both old and new heads alike.
In terms of highlights “Crenshaw Bus” is a straight fire riddim, smothered in Ras’ trademark horns and samples. “Harlem Negus Wild” and “Fatcat” are both perfect examples of the classic boom bap sound I mentioned earlier, whilst “303 vs Tell-Lie-Vision” and “40 Bus” exemplify nicely a more modern take on the classic hip hop sound; all of it anchored in Ras’ love of sound system bass and effects.
“Down 2 Earth” is a head nodding journey and a welcome addition to Ras G’s catalogue, one that is definitely more accessible than some of his previous and more recent work with the A.S.P. – which by virtue of its name and influences is a lot more out there. If you never heard his early work - particularly if you’re a hip hop fan - then this makes for a perfect entry point. It’s accessible, yet still full of what makes him such a unique musical character (and the “Beats Of Mind” compilation mentioned above is also an essential buy). As for his existing fans, it’s an easy sell really: smoky hip hop from a true master of the genre.
Harlem Negus Wild