Pulsating kryptonite jams from outer space arriving on the radio in 22nd century Los Angeles. Welcome to the world of Ras G, someone I first became really got into when I heard his album Ras G and the African Space Programme. Sackfuls of samples and idiosyncratic, lurching beats that veered from the sublime to the terrifying, it bought to mind everyone for Terry Riley to Tackhead as well as Jamal Moss and a whole load of experimental hip-hop. A bit more digging revealed a literal universe of music of Ras’ creation and the fact that this cosmic crusader was involved with the Poo Bah record label and shop (one of L.A’s best places for experimental sounds) made him all the more intriguing. However, as Ras was quick to point out, he is actually just an employee of the shop / label – not the owner, as the internet seems to suggest.
His latest record Down 2 Earth (read our review here) explores the world of ghetto-sci-fi, dusty samples and Rastafarianism and is to be blunt, a stone cold classic. With that in mind, I seized the opportunity to find out some more in an interview about someone who I guessed to be a pretty interesting character, and whilst I expected the answers to my questions to be esoteric, I perhaps wasn’t prepared for quite how odd they would be – slightly infuriating as he refused a phone interview, but also kind of endearing – they are pretty off the page.
Gregory is my Strawman u can call me Ras
What does ghetto sci-fi mean to you?
Ghetto Sci- Fi is what I call my approach two making music because I’m still doing my music with drum machines and samplers using records, so the approach would see, rather “GHETTO” to those of the technology but theres a SCIENCE 2 how I do what I do that amazes people once they hear it, but to some its fiction because they don’t believe you can make the stuff I’m making with the tools that I have when one hears it.
You use a dizzying number of samples – do you still dig for them, or do you do “21st century digging ” on places like YouTube as well?
I do it all I record samples on my phone whatever.
What do you think makes your compositions stand apart form a lot of other sample based hip-hop jams?
I’m not sure maybe I’m thinking about so much as just doing and being it which maybe why I don’t have an ego about what it is that I do.
They are also exclusively short – do you like to work quickly?
Depends. On Down 2 Earth those are just raw hip hop beats shit I make when I’m smoking blunts vibed out off records or whatever and just start playing with my sampler. I make music how some people play video games instead of playing Tekken (I know somebodys laughing I know shit about video games) I loop up records and re arrange or just loop up my favourite parts and that usually don’t take me long.
Have you always worked under the Ras G moniker?
Yes I have.
The beat scene in L.A has really blown up in the last few years – has this changed things ( for better or worse ) for you?
It’s good hella kids are striving to be as creative as they can i am not mad at it!
What is your philosophy for making music?
Don`t think feel……
It looks like some kind of space travel will be available in our lifetimes – would you like to go or is the ‘unknown’ more interesting?
i have already been there…………..my unknown is a mystery to some.
How does your belief in Rastafari influence your music?
NIYABINGI!!!! It`s the heartbeat of life Rastafari is life ain`t no religion as portrayed Ra`s Tafari. Ras meaning head creator king, Ra meaning the Sun,Tafari meaning awe inspiring mystical youth.
You have run your label Poo Bah since 2005 – how have you found the experience?
Haha this is always a mistake I don’t own POOBAH, I’m just a employee who orders music and does record trades for the shop to the record shop and an ear at the record label.
What are your plans for the label in the future?
Two release SPACEBASE IS THE PLACE!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! my next LP double 10″ im excited about that release stuff of mine I play all the time that my fans get to finally get in there collection.
And what does the future hold for Ras G?
EVERYTHING AND NOTHING CREATIVITY 4 sure.
You can download the track ‘Black Dusty Radio’ for free below.