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December 8, 2010

Ras G

Ras G

Introducing Ras G and the ASP! This “Rasta G” is a super dope producer hailing from somewhere in the South-Central Los Angeles region and who runs with only the best, holding it down with the cream of the abstract-beat generation. Dudes the likes of: Flying Lotus, Hudson Mohawke, Daedelus, Samiyam, Dibiase and P.U.D.G.E. (to name a few). Mr. G is the founder of his own imprint Poobah Records and has appeared on a number of other releases; compilations, 12”s and split 10”s (he appears on #3 of All City Records’ amazing 10-part L.A. producer series with Samiyam). He’s also got some albums out as well. Ghetto Sci-Fi and Brotha From Anotha Planet are good-looks if you stumble across the stuff, but really, Ras is like Madlib in that you can pretty much cop anything and you won’t be disappointed. I caught up with the man in October where he performed a criminally dope set at the Drake Underground [Toronto]. Don’t sleep on this guy.

Introduce yourself, your crew, your region, affiliations etc…

Greetings. I Am Ras_G and I Represent EL AFRIKAN SPACE PROGRAM/GHETTO SCI-FI MUSIC/POOBAH Records/BRAINFEEDER and LEAVING RECORDS. I’m born in EL-AY (Los Angeles) which is in southern C.razy A.liens.

The L.A. region is jumping off these days with these new off-beat beats, where is this coming from?

Well…[there’s] actually nothing new about it. Nothing is really new under the sun, but it seems to [have] become more KNOWN and acknowledged in these times than ever before. Off-beat time signatures can be found in lots free-jazz which is rooted in Afrikan Music as well as other musical forms from other cultures and other worlds of music. Odd measures from beyond what we know as time – ancient things, seen?

EL-AY probably is the most diverse of a city you gonna get…diversity is naturally meshed in the people [and] in the arts, which has built up such great musical communities as the jazz scene in Watts CA, Uncle Jams Army, The Good Life/Project Blowed era unto where we stand now with the Low End Theory, Brainfeeder Sessions, Beat Soups, Geek Down, Top Tape etc. All these different nights are just a continuation of the things from 20-30 years ago.

I saw you play recently in Toronto and noticed you rocking some sort of ASP and a laptop. What do you use in the studio?

Yeah, I use the S)pace P)rogram 404 [that’s the Roland SP-404 digital sampler] for a variety of things in the studio: drums, samples, vocals etc. On the road it’s what I use to get my point across ‘cause I don’t rap, so I speak in music – it’s my translator. My studio is GHETTO SCI-FI, I got hella records, turntables, keyboards, toys and some monitors. Simple, nothing baller or some shit you never have heard of. I just use it in a “Ghetto” context to do what I do. I call it Sci- Fi cause it’s a science how I do it, but it would seem fictional to certain people of the NOW and of the Past, pretty random.

Ras G

How do you play your live sets? Do you just import sequences into your sampler or are you working with the actual sequences from the albums and then just tweaking it?

I do a bit of all; remixing, mixing – all of the above and tweaking it live.

What would you say to those that think your music is too off-beat?

I’m not really here to defend naysayers ‘cause they don’t really know or feel much of anything that ain’t Earth based, feel me? Those same kinda people’s ancestors maybe wrote inDownbeat magazine and said things like “Sun Ra stole his style from Miles Davis after he made Bitches Brew,” or something ignorant like that – haha. They not really in on the feelings of things, they’re more in the moment of things. I’m here doing spiritual things with the music and “un-quantized” (as they call it) music is a feel. Music, it’s really based on spiritual things and things dealing with the unknown, but like everything, there is the equation. I like quantized music as well: Pete Rock, Da Beatminerz, Diamond D, Buckwild, Large Pro, etc. It’s like 2 hands; I can write and do it all with my RIGHT hand, but what amazing thing can I do with my neglected LEFT hand, seen?

So, what kind of projects are you cooking up with your neglected left hand?

Ummm, lots stuff that should have came out this year, but due to Earthly matters, didn’t get released. Quite a bit of that will come out this year: Spacebase is the Place, Alternate Destiny, C)razy A)lien Cassette, Beat Soup 3 (compilation), a split release with SUN RA…working on a bunch of stuff that hasn’t even got a destination yet. I’m busy working on what you ain’t heard or about to hear in the coming months, years or whatever.

What kind of musical traditions are you coming from?

I’m coming from a hip hop understanding when coming into music. The hip hop I was brought up – it encompassed many different genres of music: jazz, reggae, funk, soul, rock, blues, gospel, world etc. MASTER TEACHER AFRIKA BAMBAATAAA was all about finding the perfect BEAT in the record. The type of music never mattered, it was the MESSAGE or the CALLING or the SOUND…the “BREAKTHROUGH” the BREAKBEAT. But yes, my favorites are DANIEL NO 1. BAND (traditional Rasta music), SUN RA (the greatest Afrikan classical musician/being this planet’s ever seen), KING TUBBY (take off the vocals leave the beats = DUBPLATE), LEE PERRY (King of the Ghetto Sci-Fi Production Stylie), JAMES BROWN (creator of the 1 which is the beat), AFRIKA BAMBAATAA (the man who heard the spirits in the Black Ancient 360s and also one of my favorite thinkers), Marley Marl, Pete Rock, Samiyam (these cats make machines speak languages they ain’t supposed to speak), Madlib (Mr.Fuck It!!!), Flying Lotus (showed me that you can make a CPU speak your language in a futuristic way) and man, I miss ODB…

Ras G

Did you know that Miles Davis’ last album was mostly produced by Easy Mo Bee and it’s a rap album?

Yes, I knew about Miles and Mo bee doing it. I didn’t realize the significance at that point, but I’m appreciative of Miles keeping that musical dialog or continuum going.

You’ve talked about other guys like Sun Ra starting to move into other musical genres, do you think that if Sun Ra had a drum machine and a stack of records, that he might come out with the kind of sounds you’re producing?

Man SUN RA has been talking about this stuff since the 60’s man, [did you] ever hear DISCO 3000? I got [all] the El Saturn Records and the re-issues. It’s my favorite, he demonstrated the future and the past quantized and un-quantized on that song he’s playing with the whole Arkestra and a drum machine. Haha, he would have skipped the whole sample thing and if he didn’t, he would be sampling himself or the Arkestra. I’m just part of the continuum doing what he said it would be back then, he knew. That’s why I champion him [as] the best on the planet.

Producers like Flying Lotus have been starting to produce for rappers and other musicians, have you branched out and worked with some other people?

I have worked with a few vocal artists, mcs, singers etc., but everything’s in due season, so when it’s right, you will hear it due time.

Is it important to you as an artist to be releasing your material on vinyl?

It is. For me, the vinyl is like a certificate of your creativity. A mark of your time, work…it’s that pat-on-the-back. I guess you can say it’s gonna keep itself alive.

Can you tell the people a little more about Brainfeeder? Whose label is it? How you got on it?

Brainfeeder is just what the name says: a group of somewhat like-minded artists making mind, body and soul enhancing music, movies and art. How I got on was through Steve (Flying Lotus). I turned my crazy mushroom induced Brotha From Anotha piece to him on a summer day and he told me about Brainfeeder and here we are 2 years later…

What’s the atmosphere like at Low End Theory or Brainfeeder Sessions? Who comes to the jams?

Lots of regulars, who’s who on the Beat Scene, outta town homies, lots of up and coming kids who make beats etc. Out-of-towners geeking [who] can’t believe they’re looking at most of their favorite artists, all in one spot, vibing-out, laughing, smoking; walls shaking from hella bass hundreds of kids…[it’s] pretty crazy.

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Where did you get started, at one of these nights?

I got started at Project Blowed djing, then Sketchbook. I actually began playing my beats for like-minded friends, then Low End Theory is where my live sound and show evolved.

If someone were to pick up Ghetto Sci-Fi 1000 years from now, how do you think people might take it? You think your music would have the same resonance in the future?

I’m not sure we shall see.

Aside from EL-AY, where else have you been where this off-beat sound has thrived?

All over the world, it’s an ancient rhythm, a spiritual rhythm.

This past October when you were in Canada, was it your first time? What were your impressions?

Yes it was, I enjoyed myself: trees, record shopping, hanging out (even though it was HELLA COLD – haha!), shout out to the homie Rilly Guilty.

What are your personal thoughts on Proposition 19? Good? Bad?

Pssssh! I was passing before it passed and I will be passing after it passed or if it ain’t passed…haha no change, HERB STILL GROWING!?



For more on Ras G and the African Space Program, hit

6 Responses

  1. Look, maybe I shouldn’t be so quick to judge. The fact is he’s doing his thing and it’s making him happy. To each their own. So sorry for that.

    Personally I’ve just never been into stuff this arythmic. I got into hip hop for the beats – the unique flavor of drums – and so without that element I’m out.

    Just a bit too scatter-brained for my tastes.

  2. What do you mean by arhythmic? I personally find this dude’s broken up composition pretty rhythmic, maybe a bit stuttered…but I’m glad to have found out about this. I’m also imagining what a Ras G/Rammelzee team up would have yielded.

  3. that’s what’s up rajbot…for reaaaaalio. East LA is A-ok!

    Baggs, have you checked for flying lotus? hudson mohawke?