The title of this album is an understatement to say the least.
Ras G is all of the things an artist should be in 2009 – respected by his peers, critically acclaimed in the press, and popular in the L.A. underground music scene. That being said his name is definitely going to cause some confusion to unwary consumers. At first you might assume that Ras G is a rapper with Carribean influences or a tendency to use patois in his rhymes. If somebody hips you to the fact he’s a producer and not an emcee, you might think Ras G is the type of cat following in the Sly & Robbie mold creating hits that crossover from reggae to hip-hop to pop.
Ras G is not any of these things. He’s a “Brotha From Another Planet.”
The first word that comes to mind when listening to Ras G’s album is “experimental.” You start to glean a semblance of a beat and a melody in “Dishwater,” before your mind lapses into the very strange feeling you are playing a game of Lumines on the PSP. Animals growl in the background, the beat shifts at unexpected moments, and every time you hear a whistling sound it’s like the line sweeping across the screen cleared another combo for you. It gets no less odd on “Earthly Matters,” a song which hints at Ras’ hip-hop influences by bringing in turntablism, yet does not fully embrace the potential of the wheels of steel – relegating them to a role scratching a single drumbeat in a peculiar way. Even the short 1:05 “Pennys Confession” is as bizarre as it is beautiful – repeating the phrase “we’re vulnerable” over and over again over a soft melodic backdrop. This strikes me as music for an acid trip.
Ras G is not just a “Brotha From Another Planet,” he’s a “Brotha On His Own Shit.”
If you’re searching for any kind of traditional rap music here you won’t find it. If you want something you can even vaguely identify as hip-hop, there are times that sensibility creeps in through the oddity. “Eunice in White” is almost the kind of futuristic boom bap you could see Aceyalone rapping to. “Astrohood” strikes me as something the late J Dilla would have done on one of his beat tapes for a laugh. “In Coming” could be one of Kool Keith’s self-produced tracks but for all the wrong reasons – it’s a pile of noise and bass attempting to be a melody and falling short. That’s not to say that Ras G doesn’t have some great instrumentals you can cool out to despite defying classification. I really enjoy the ambient sound and interwoven sound effects of “Come Down (2 Earth)” and the African inspired “Alkebulan” closer among many others on “Brotha From Another Planet.” Honestly though I can’t recommend this to the majority of readers of RR, because even those among you who like something experimental or different may find this one more odd than any demented project Madlib, MF Doom or Mykill Miers has ever done.
Ras G. He’s not only a “Brotha From Another Planet,” he’s clearly not even from our galaxy.