January 22, 2008

Ras Kass - Rasassination (September 22, 1998)


Ras Kass suffered through poor sales of his debut effort, Soul On Ice, due to a lack of promotion and because the final product sucked. He's always had lyrics to go, and for the right price, he could even make your shit tighter, but Rassy has always faltered when it came to constructing an actual song, a problem that he, sadly, still faces in his rap career.

Rasassination is his sophomore effort, which was released by Priority Records, the label with which he would eventually get embroiled in a court battle regarding contract terms and labor agreements. For this effort, he attempted to branch out to a couple of commercially viable collaborators, which is why Dr. Dre appears on the disc, although he doesn't produce anything here, so what was the fucking point, Rassy? A couple of beats come by way of Easy Mo Bee, and East Coast stalwart-slash-Shawn Carter punching bag Big Jaz also takes a turn behind the boards, but for the most part, Ras decided to actively retain a part of his advance by purchasing beats from no-name producers, which is a tactic that doesn't always work, because it's not like you make more money off of an album with no name producers if it still doesn't move units: you still make nothing.

Which is what happened here. Rasassination was destined to fail in record shops, since he goes over the heads of average listeners, and hip hop heads need something to nod their heads to, something which Ras Kass needs to perfect ASAP. Critically, this album was met with almost zero acclaim, not necessarily because it is a bad disc, but because Rassy himself was considered a boring artist. That was a situation he rectified quickly after going to do a quick bid for a DUI, and then, after his release, getting in a fight with fellow West Coast artist The Game.

Moving on...

1. ENDTRO
Pretentious rap album intro that is produced to make your album sound much more important than it deserves to be, catalog number 847-Q. It would be one thing if this 'New World Order' theme were consistent throughout the album, but it really doesn't pop up again until the very last track. As such, next!

2. RASASSINATION
Is Bill Bellamy really the best example of a black man that white America isn't afraid of?

3. GHETTO FABULOUS (FEAT DR. DRE & MACK 10)
Swipes the beat that Dr. Dre used in the ballroom dance sequence (you read that right, non-hip hop listeners) of the video to his "Been There, Done That". Mack 10 is a nonfactor, which I'm sure is how Ice Cube sees his participation on those Westside Connection projects today.

4. LAPDANCE (FEAT RC)
Not only is the beat not a good one for Rassy, it's almost as if the subject matter is completely beneath him. Almost.

5. SKIT # 1
...

6. CONCEITED BASTARD
The beat is lacking, but the rhymes connect pretty well.

7. ICE AGE (FEAT KURUPT & EL DREX)
Am I the only person in the world wondering how Kurupt earned his spot in that fabled Four Horsemen supergroup, alongside Rassy, Canibus, and Killah Priest? I mean, he's okay, but...

8. ...IN A COOGI SWEATSUIT (SKIT)
...

9. H2OPROOF (FEAT SAAFIR)
Not only is this song pretty decent, it has the added bonus of helping Saafir pay the rent for the month in which it was recorded! Yay!

10. IT IS WHAT IT IS (FEAT JAZZE PHA)
Lame as shit. The hook matches the beat, which you should read as saying "the lame-as-shit hook matches the lame-as-shit beat".

11. INTERVIEW WITH A VAMPIRE (FEAT GOD & SATAN)
That's seriously what this song is billed as. This would be the album's centerpiece, juts like how "Nature Of The Threat" was the main course on Soul On Ice, but I find myself nonplussed with the song itself, since the vocal effects are grating, almost like listening to T-Pain scream in your ear every day for the rest of your life; I find myself much more impressed that Rassy was able to secure guest appearances from two omnipresent beings that, depending on which religion you follow, are either the end-all be-all or two figureheads that never truly existed. Bonus points for mentioning Allah on a song that features God and Satan.

12. WILD PITCH (FEAT XZIBIT & JAH SKILLZ)
I kind of like this beat, but the female guest emcee is terrible. X to the Z does alright by his own standards, I suppose.

13. OOH WEE!
Actually pretty good.

14. ALL OR NUTHIN (FEAT TWISTA)
As you may remember me writing before, having Twista as the guest on your song is almost like the kiss of death, since your instrumental will automatically have to bend to the will of the Tung Twista, i.e., you'll have to speed-rap, since Twista always comes off as both an impressive rapper and a one-trick pony on these cameos. Twista will also always murder you on your own shit, since the beat is more suited for him and not for you. Ras Kass is not the exception to this rule.

15. GRINDIN' (FEAT BAD AZZ)
I appreciate the reference to Pinky & The Brain, but the song itself sucks ass.

16. I AIN'T FUCKIN' WITH YOU
Likewise, Rassy.

17. GET AT ME
Was Rassy aiming for radio airplay here? Because the last time I heard Ras Kass on the radio was probably in a Wherehouse Music advertisement on the radio in 1997 promoting this very album.

18. THE END (FEAT THE RZA)
Word for word, The Rza is probably one of the better collaborators Rassy's ever has on the mic. That said, this song is boring, and Easy Mo Bee's instrumental is best used as a sleep aid.

FINAL THOUGHTS: At least Rasassination has slightly better beats than Soul On Ice, which is an impressive feat, since almost all of the beats are provided by no-name producers. However, just because they're slightly better doesn't mean they're any good, and they certainly don't match the lyrical content that Rassy attempts to bless them with. Rasassination suffers from the same problems Soul On Ice had; namely, the beats suck when compared to the rhymes, and music can't live by rhymes alone; otherwise, Rassy's acapella albums would sell well over forty million copies each. The fun to be had during this listening experience is nil.

BUY OR BURN? Well, the trick question portion of this program is upon us, because you couldn't buy this album even if you wanted to, as it is out of print. (Thanks, Priority Records!) But if we were to pretend that you had a choice, I would recommend a burn only. The lyrics are mostly good, but his ear for beats should be checked out by a specialist.

BEST TRACKS: "Ooh Wee!"; "Conceited Bastard"

-Max

RELATED POSTS:
Ras Kass - Soul On Ice

10 comments:

  1. I will not ever bash Rass Kass, simply because he is one of the
    .02% of rappers I'm convinced is smarter than I am.

    I feel one day we may look back at Rass Kass and be embarassed at his lack of success, in the same way we may be embarrassed at Eminem's overindulgence of support.

    Rass Kass is one guy I'd definitely want to have a beer and a convo with(as long as he wasn't driving).

    He's definitely got the knowledge.

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  2. Here's the thing. If you remember reading the infamous Source interview Ras Kass did right before this album came out where he explained his thinking going into the recording of this album you'd be leery of buying it in the first place.

    He pretty much realized about a full year before anyone else what direction the industry was going in. If he didn't get on the radio/sell units with this album it was the indie route for the rest of his career. He tried to get spins and satisfy heads at the same time...Didn't bloody work.

    One.

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  3. I'll level with you; I love everything about Soul On Ice, beats included.

    This album, on the other hand, is a fucking piece of shit.

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  4. the most felonious vocalist in the wide world of showbusinessJanuary 27, 2008

    I actually rent a room on Ras Kass's nutsack and I still can't endorse this album. I will say that the title track qualifies as a good song and should be added to the list of "best tracks". Some dj should give Ras Kass the Danger Mouse/Grey Album treatment and make his AMAZING lyrics palatable to the average listener. He has recorded a tremendous amount of material in his career (certainly enough to fill a CD with) which could be placed over quality beats and make for a lovely introduction to an artist who can credibly claim to be top 5 dead or alive on the microphone.

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  5. the most felonious vocalist in the wide world of showbusinessFebruary 26, 2008

    You know, Ras Kass compares himself to Van Gogh. Perhaps he chopped off his ear for beats and mailed it to a lady friend.

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  6. I've read this review more than 3 times (I'm no maniac I promise!) but I'm very surprised at your opinion of this album.
    This is Ras Kass at his second best (after Soul on Ice of course).
    And this statement: "the lyrics are mostly good, but his ear for beats should be checked out by a specialist." is among the most foolish I've ever read.

    The lyrics are just good? Max, you've done 400 reviews, and the lyrics on this album are mostly good? Name one song which doesn't lyrically compare the Wu-Tang's best.
    And I loved the beats on this album, I never saw anyone choose the same instrumentals as Ras Kass and that's what separates him... still a dope review.

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  7. To the reviewer... you are an EXTREME dumbass. There are PLENTY of people who liked the beats on Soul On Ice and plenty of people who consider it a classic. And why should a record be garbage simply because of beats? What this review shows is that you think that a rapper can be as good as he wants his music sucks without a good beat. Guess he should stop writing anything worth talking about and just hire as many hot producers as possible.

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  8. AnonymousJuly 22, 2009

    Max i disagree and agree with u at the same time on this one, i agree with u because rassy's lyrics were awesome here so yeah i do agree with u on that, i disgree with u becuz most of the beats in this album was tight as hell, he did managed to recruit dre, who did a little good on the production, but most of the beats here sound better, way better than all of the beats on Soul On Ice

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  9. What JAMMQ said.

    and @ Dart Adams worrrrd...

    And might I say I agree with max on his call, if d beats suck, an d music isnt an enjoyable listen, its kinda pointless... although ill agree dat when i saw his review of Soul On Ice and listened to it, the beats werent half as bad as he made them sound

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  10. AnonymousJuly 03, 2012

    4 horsemen breakdown: Rassy = Kurupt > Canibus > Killah Priest

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