September 10, 2018

Ras Kass "Van Gogh" (Vibe Magazine, 2001)

During the recording of Ras's intended third album, Van Gogh, Priority Records merged with Capitol Records, which acquired the emcee's contract and his material. Initially near completion, the album was heavily bootlegged before any single or promotion could be prepared. In fact, the would-be single "Van Gogh" was even played on an episode of The Sopranos. Ras went back to work overhauling the project, procuring tracks from DJ Premier, Hi-Tek, and Dr. Dre and retaining songs from Rockwilder and Battlecat. Tensions arose during the re-recording, from budget restrictions to lack of promotion: Despite the fact that "Van Gogh" remained shelved the album's singles "Back It Up" and "Goldyn Chyd" received decent amounts of spins... Vibe spoke to Ras about the album in May, 2000: "John "Ras Kass" Austin's machete-sharp lyrics are just plain nasty. Going virtually unnoticed, his two albums - 1996's Soul On Ice and 1998's Rasassination - featured some of the most unrelenting verbal assaults to come along since old-schoolers KRS-One and Big Daddy Kane. But this year, Ras, who has been living in the studio these days, is bound to finally get his piece of the RIAA-certified pie. Not only has he been gaining momentum with a plethora of guest spots on underground L.A. mix tapes and on 3Strikes: Original Motion Picture Soundtrack, but Ras is also busy recording LPs with both of his groups, the Goldyn State Warriors (with Xzibit and Defari) and the Horsemen (with Canibus, Killah Priest, and Kurupt). But the crown jewel for the 24-year old will be his solo 60-minute-plus workout in his lyrical fitness, Van Gogh, due out this summer. 'I just wanna get back to the art,' says the Carson, Calif., native. '[This album] is me cutting my ear off and mailing it to the world.' They say "the third time's a charm" (just ask Jay-Z), so let's hope Ras won't have to jump through hoops to get his new CD heard. But regardless, he ain't stressing a thang, 'When it's my turn, I'll eclipse everybody,' he says confidently. 'I'm not putting a timetable on it, but it might be tomorrow. I'm one of the illest.'" - Vibe, 2000. Listen to this previously unreleased classic album below, and continue for an official album review back in 2001 - also via Vibe Magazine.

"Ras Kass utilizes his unearthly rhyme skill to further promote hip hop as an intense but perplexing art form. Although he has never claimed L.A.'s traditional, Crip-walking hip hop set as his own, Ras is not to be confused with any obscure, underground West Coast rhyme sayers. On the contrary, he's surprisingly quite gangsta.... Ras (also) beefs with fellow Angelno-turned-East Coast beat maestro the Alchemist, for selling the same beat to both Ras and Jadakiss. On "Kiss U" he disses the young producer over a synthed-out, Eurythmics-style track produced by DJ Khalil. Production-wise, the album's breadth is astounding - free of any geographical boundaries, kind of like Ras Kass himself. And Van Gogh's serious, sophisticated feel makes it the perfect soundtrack for intelligent hoodlums from coast to coast." - Vibe (November, 2001). Fans have been waiting nearly two decades, but now Ras Kass has finally released the album via his Bandcamp! Delete the bootlegs and pick up a copy!