Ras Kass Van Gogh

Nice lyrics, shame about the beats. This phrase has been used often to describe the output of Carson, California's Ras Kass, who judging by the title, feels like he has been unjustifiably overlooked. No cow was sacred on his Soul On Ice debut, where his lyrical wizardry dispensed controversial revisionist history classes and his scathing critiques of organised religion were weighted down by pondering self-production. His subsequent efforts to remedy the situation by bringing in tepid g-funk, on Rasassination, left him in the familiar quandary of alienating his core fan base and failing to reach the masses. On this critical third project things start off well enough, with bangers like "Hot Game and "Goldyn Chyld," but start to go off the rails when the beat for excellent buzz track "Home Sweet Home" is unceremoniously yanked. The move and the electro-flavoured next track, "Kiss U," is meant as a diss to producer the Alchemist, who handed the same beat to Jadakiss for his album. Unfortunately for Ras Kass, the beats thereafter become increasingly mediocre and reach their nadir when joined by fellow Golden State Warriors Xzibit and Saafir to rhyme over an interpretation of the "NBC on NBA" basketball theme ("NBA"). It doesn't help that his lyrics, flow and subject matter for much of the album are well below what he is capable of. Things start to pick up at the end, with economic analysis on "Root Of Evil" and the stunning title track, but the damage is already done. A disappointing effort from an experienced talent, it's doubtful Ras Kass will get the respect he wants on this painfully uneven project. (Virgin)