Ras Kass is Making the Search for Lyrical Hip-Hop Easy with “The Chase” (Video Premiere)

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In 2006, Nas dropped Hip-Hop Is Dead, an album which reflected his thoughts on the music industry’s failure to promote high-quality, concept-driven, and lyrically centered music. Its release re-ignited a longstanding conversation about what “real” Hip-Hop is, a conversation that continues to permeate the culture. One artist who has never swayed from calling into question the current state of affairs is Ras Kass, whose forthcoming EP takes the “Hip-Hop is dead” notion one step further. Lyrical Hip-Hop Is Dead drops January 19, and the free six-track affair features contributions from Royce Da 5’9″, Guilty Simpson, Kutlass Supreme, Ras Austin (Ras Kass’ son), Rampage the Last Boyscout, 4rax, and Flobama.

With music inspired by Kaytranada’s “Instrumental Hip-Hop is Dead,” the EP’s opener is “The Chase,” a booming anthem for perseverance featuring inDJnous. As Ras Kass tells Ambrosia for Heads, the song is mostly about “doing things with the right motivation, never chasing fame, or sex, or drugs. And not idolizing money.” Lyrically, it features all of the deftness fans have come to expect from the Los Angeles MC, with references to everyone from Elzhi to activist Bree Newsome sprinkled throughout his verses. Visually, it’s demanding in its simplicity; the most striking feature is the appearance of a young boy with an exploding smoke bomb, who Ras Kass says “symbolizes me continually chasing my dreams. He represents every person’s will to succeed, no matter the odds.” Free from the distractions of overly conceptualized imagery, the video highlights what is really important about the song – its lyrical content. When asked for a timeline of lyrical Hip-Hop’s demise, Ras Kass says that “it’s been in a coma since about 2004, but there are always dope MCs (mostly in the peripheral of the mainstream) who study the art and bring lyrics to the forefront.” So how do we resurrect it? A few spins of Lyrical Hip-Hop is Dead may provide the answer.

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