With an ever-growing crop of producers carrying the torch for the LA beat scene, there seems to be no shortage of gritty boom-bap making its way into the world these days. Now one of the scene's longstanding—and considerably more unique—members, Ras G, has returned with a new album which finds him continuing to craft the kind of stoney, hiss-laden space beats he's been turning out all along.
Down 2 Earth is a beat tape in the most obvious sense. Littered with an overwhelming amount of "Oh Ras" tags and customary siren hits, the album is comprised of 21 tracks which never come close to breaching the three-minute mark. In truth, it's nothing more than a showcase of ideas, some more refined than others. Now that isn't necessarily a bad thing in itself, but this choice of presentation can be limiting, as Ras G's pastiche of partially explored musical curiosities fails to ever culminate into something substantial. With over half the songs on the LP being made up of loosely strung-together samples and a host of dubbed-out sounds firing at random (which happens for a minute or so, and then we're off to the next one, and the next one, and...), Down 2 Earth lacks anything worth sinking your teeth into.
With that said, there are a few glimpses of light to be found in this cave of redundancy, especially when the beats take a strong turn towards '90s hip-hop sensibilities. In particular, songs like "Leave!!!!!!," "Black Dusty Radio," and "Crush On a Earthling" stand out the most, approaching Dilla-esque territory while still being injected with enough of Ras G's space funk to sound fresh and unique. There are even a few of the aforementioned delayed-out sample collages that work for a while, such as the dusty (and possibly Thundercat-bass-featuring) "Peace (Saalaam)" and the bubbly "Crenshaw Bus." But even those shining moments are just that—moments—and by the time a particular track begins to engage the listener, it's gone.
The argument could be made that it is a bit presumptuous to ask beat producers to produce anything more than, well, beats. But the scene from which Ras G and others have risen has produced a number of touchstone records that move beyond the genre in which they were created and stand as greater pieces of electronic music in their own right—Dilla's Donuts and FlyLo's Los Angeles come to mind. Yes, it's ridiculous to expect everyone to make a grand statement with each release, but there's scarcely a trace of an evolving style or technique to be found on Down 2 Earth. Surely, we're entitled to expect more.