TWO TURNTABLES, HOLD THE MICROPHONE
Written by Miles Raymer for Chicago Reader and ChicagoReader.com
Published March 18, 2010
J Dilla wasn't the first producer to recognize the potential for rap beats to evolve from a backdrop for MCs into a freestanding art form, but the records he made before his death in 2006 have done more to guide that evolution in the past decade than any of their predecessors. Following in Dilla's footsteps is a loose but growing coalition of producers who slip the bonds of traditional hip-hop boom-bap with their drum programming and largely forgo melodies in favor of dense atmospheres compounded from organ snippets, field recordings, video-game bleeps, and whatever else ends up in their samplers. Though this coalition has global reach, it also has localized centers of activity. Not at all by happenstance, one of them is Los Angeles—also home to Dr. Dre, DJ Muggs, and a wealth of marijuana dispensaries.
The best-known musician in this scene is Flying Lotus, but the LA-based Brainfeeder crew he anchors includes several other notable talents. Among them is RAS G, whose BTS Radio Live Set #001, released last month and credited to Ras G & the Afrikan Space Program, sounds like a dialect of hip-hop:despite familiar elements like booming bass and the occasional rap, it's tweaked so far that it's barely recognizable. (Like all the mixes I'm reviewing, it's online only) The tracks he's chosen bear the influence of Sun Ra's cosmic jazz voyages, King Tubby's dub odysseys, and Aphex Twin's deep glitch expeditions, but those artists' willingness to disassemble their music and tinker with its structures seems like just as big an inspiration as their sonics—Ras G and artists he's mixing are like kids who take apart their favorite toys just to see how many different ways they can find to put them back together.
READ THE FULL ARTICLE AT CHICAGOREADER.COM >>>
DOWNLOAD RAS G's BTS RADIO LIVE SESSION HERE >>>