Album

What Went Right With… Soul On Ice by Ras Kass?

A close-up of prison bars to accompany the review of Soul On Ice by Ras Kass. By whatwentrightwith.com

Back in 1994, a rapper named Ras Kass made a little buzz in the underground. With his contribution to the group Western HemisFear, his verse on the “Wake Up Show Anthem”, and his single “Remain Anonymous”/“Won’t Catch Me Runnin’”, he became known for his anti-mainstream sentiments and his intelligent, sometimes complex, yet witty lyrics. In the mid-nineties, a lyrical rapper from the West Coast (who wasn’t afraid to use typical East Coast sounds) was a refreshing change from all the G-Funk being produced by other Californian rappers, and Ras’ unique aesthetic had everybody yearning for a full-length LP.

Ras Kass’ début album titled “Soul On Ice” dropped two years later in 1996 and thankfully Ras kept the lyrical style that was present in his underground singles and appearances. But that being said, “Soul On Ice” did contain some more conventional content and when the album was first released there were many people who slagged off the production, which for me was a little harsh. Some critics didn’t just call out certain tracks, they said that the entire album contained poor-quality beats which I staunchly disagree with to this day.

The album for me contains numerous cases of decent mid-nineties production, there’s “Anything Goes” and “Marinatin’” which are both smooth and mellow, and since these two songs feature a slightly “mainstream” sound it’s strange that they weren’t more popular. Something like “Miami Life” could also have been more successful had it been marketed better, the sound of this song is surely “acceptable” for a Pop fan and there’s even drug-based lyrics which are usually popular with corrupt radio and TV stations.

Aside from a few potential radio-friendly tracks, the aesthetic of this album switches between “East” and “West Coast” sounds; “Marinatin’” in particular is a smooth, typical West Coast track, whereas “Etc.” has a distinctly East Coast vibe especially with the sample (“pen predator et cetera”) from Black Moon’s “How Many MC’s”. And that brings me to the whole East Vs. West beef which was brewing during the time of this album’s creation, and Ras Kass’ song “Sonset” gives a great response. The title of this song I assume refers to Jeru Da Damaja’s “The Sun Rises In The East” and certain lines also reference a few East Coast songs such as De La Soul and Biz Markie’s “Lovely How I Let My Mind Float” and Das EFX’s “They Want EFX”. In that respect, “Sonset” doesn’t diss all of the East and respects Hip-Hop’s foundations in the Bronx, however with some regional prejudice bubbling in the genre, it was nice to hear a well thought out argument from someone from the left coast (rather than making music videos kicking over Manhattan buildings… Dogg …ahem… Pound). This line from “Sonset” says it all; “So why these niggas acting like, since they live in the state that rap originates, they automatically all time greats? It takes classic material to make phat shit, not proof of New York residence and an accent”.

Since Ras Kass is known for his complex rhymes and scholarly themes, there are of course some great lyricism on tracks like the aforementioned “Sonset”, “The Evil That Men Do”, “Nature Of The Threat, and “Ordo Abchao”. The topics waver greatly however, from “On Earth As It Is…” which is jam-packed with biblical metaphors, “Marinatin’” which focusses on legal and illegal money making, “Nature Of The Threat” which is about racism, and “Ordo Abchao” which tackles the New World Order. There’s also brilliant lines like “Existence is a life sentence” from “Reelishym”, humorous similes like “Eazy cum, Eazy go like Eric Wright” from “If/Then”, and comments about Hip-Hop music – “Make a radio hit, heads criticise it; Underground classic, nobody buys it” also from “Reelishym” (which as it turned out perfectly described “Soul On Ice”).

There are of course some issues with this album, and it isn’t all down to the lo-fi, sometimes amateurish production. The worst parts of the album for me are; the unneeded outro to “Anything Goes” (the pointless farting, “Human Nature”, cheesecake skit), a few unfortunate homophobic references to RuPaul (in “Marinatin’ and “Etc.”), and the lacklustre song “If/Then” with Ras going off-beat to the point it feels jarring. “Drama” which sounds like a song by Skee-Lo isn’t needed at all, this is the most Pop-sounding song especially with Coolio on the hook and the overly sexist lyrics which ruin Ras Kass’ other more “enlightened” tracks. “Soul On Ice” contains some introspective, poetic, and sometimes high-brow content but unfortunately there’s also immature and contrived stuff on there too. But with one single, brazen, unashamedly non-mainstream track, everything that may be sub-par is pretty much forgiven, and that song is “Nature Of The Threat”.

Easily one of the stand-out tracks on the album, “Nature Of The Threat” is a seven minute long song that takes the form of a chronological history lesson of Caucasian supremacy and racism. This track has outlived so many other songs from the same period, not to mention other joints from Ras Kass himself. The lyrics from this song are spoken about even to this day on Afrocentric, white supremacist, conspiracy theory, and historical forums. The reaction to the song is even evident in the comment section of my review of Ras Kass’ other album “Intellectual Property” where a few people took issue with a song that didn’t even appear on the album in question. But this type of criticism regarding accurate or mainstream history to me is very blinkered – every time film and television tells lies about the past (such as constantly showing the public a Caucasian Jesus) white mainstream revisionism never really gets questioned, but one black musician makes a song with suppressed or alternative history and everybody’s up in arms. That’s pretty racist to me.

The debate “Nature Of The Threat” sparked may not have been intentional but his unorthodox opinion must have affected Ras Kass’ standing within the greater entertainment business – we can’t have a minority having an anti-white racist opinion, but white musicians can get all the way to the top even when they’ve made blatantly racist songs and statements – another contradictory and racist state of affairs. Surely an MC with such an original song should be spoken about more often when it comes to discussing the all-time great rappers, but sadly outside of underground Hip-Hop, the majority of people have no idea about this album or this song.

Yes, “Nature Of The Threat” is overtly anti-white and somewhat racist, but as long as someone is oppressed in their country I think they deserve a free pass to vehemently comment about their situation, and if that brings out some racism then so be it – that’s reparations for a prejudice society. If a Palestinian made a similar track about Israelis or an Aboriginal Australian wrote something like this about white Australians I would be okay with that too. Hell, if a woman wrote a similar song about men or a disabled person wrote this type of track about able-bodied people, I’m sure the same people that feel so offended by Ras’ lyrics would feel very differently. You can only take so much from an unbalanced and unfair society until you air your opinion, when you’re the minority (be it sexual, ethnic, or religious) if your demographic is being oppressed daily, then a little song is the least of your oppressor’s worries. Sometimes what’s needed is a big “fuck you!” to the powers that be, and in this case the target was the white European-American… big deal.

That’s not to say that Ras Kass as an artist should be immune to criticism, in fact it’s downright wrong that over the years he’s become somewhat of a mythic figure who everybody seems to think is 100% underground, political, conscious, and free from reproach. The conventional criticisms regarding reverse racism and bad production however are unfounded in my opinion, if you’re going to criticise Ras Kass there are a few other aspects that should be pointed out about the MC. Like if he’s supposedly anti-Illuminati as he’s stated in “Ordo Abchao” and “How To Kill God” (among others) then why do the contrived “covering one eye” on the “A.D.I.D.A.S.” album cover? Secondly, with crossover-blips like “Drama” and “If/Then” on his début LP, it was obvious that Ras wouldn’t be a full-time political rapper like Immortal Technique for instance. It was pretty evident early on that he would eventually try to be more “mainstream”, songs such as “Ghetto Fabulous” featuring Dr. Dre and Mack 10 (from his second LP “Rassassination”) showed that even the mighty “Endangered Lyricist” Razzy Kazzy would attempt to crossover and appeal to the masses. Ras Kass hasn’t stopped there, for every “Interview With A Vampire” he’s released a “Get Yo’ Money Right” and he’s also made a handful of horribly cheap, contrived, and forgettable songs like “A Game”, “Pop Life” and “Since U Been Gone” (from “Quarterly”) or “On Top” (from “A.D.I.D.A.S.”). He’s also back-tracked with his anti-white and anti-American sentiments – on “Hip Hop Now” for example he rapped… “What do you stand for? We stand for what’s true. The homies that’s red, some white, and some blue…. What do you stand for? American colours; black, brown, white, yellow American brothers” …a lyric that’s not only the antithesis of “Nature Of The Threat” it’s also vomit-inducing and corny.

People always say that this type of stylistic change is an artist “evolving” but to me it lessens the impact of all the good that’s come before. Let’s face it, a rapper changing their style to sell to a bigger section of the buying public isn’t something to be admired, it is if anything a business-move to make more money – it’s hardly a hardcore artistic statement to switch your style to something that’s more popular, it’s simple profit making. Ras Kass aside from “Blasphemy” has made numerous albums and countless songs that almost refute and discredit his début album, and that to me is very disappointing and worthy of criticism. Sure, someone can change their opinion, but in Ras Kass’ case this greatly undermines his magnum opus “Soul On Ice”, and whereas his later albums are all but forgotten, his début LP is still spoken about 20 years later. With the majority of Hip-Hop music and many Hip-Hop musicians succumbing to prevailing sounds and trends, it would be great if a rapper for once stuck to their guns. If Ras Kass can make his upcoming “Soul On Ice 2” without being a post-millennial, pro-American, moralistic, pop-culture referencing, cross-over-wannabe, then he’ll not only rightly be heralded as one of the greats, but the Hip-Hop genre might finally be offered something other than the ordinary.

Back to “Soul On Ice”, I would have preferred if “Drama” and “If/Then” were removed from the album and “Soul On Ice Remix”, “Remain Anonymous”, “Jack Frost”, and the brilliant “Won’t Catch Me Runnin’” were added. If Ras had made these omissions and additions, this album would have easily been a 9/10 especially if the tracklisting was reordered with “Nature Of The Threat” closer to the end of the album. I know that most of these problems were due to issues with Priority Records, and if these elements were fixed in 1995 when the LP was originally set to be released, this would have been a completely different album indeed. Apparently The Source magazine wanted to give this album 6 Mics (5 Mics were the maximum rating) and with these aforementioned tweaks “Soul On Ice” might have been worthy of such an accolade…

The constant criticism of “Soul On Ice” regarding the production is slightly overblown in my opinion, since these days someone like Kendrick Lamar is applauded when he makes a disjointed album. If “To Pimp A Butterfly” and even “Untitled Unmastered” can get overrated by the masses then why can’t an album like this go without heavy criticism? Regardless of your opinion of the beats, or your point of view on racism, you can’t deny that a LP with this much lyricism, this much unique content, this much individuality (and of course the classic song “Nature Of The Threat”) is a classic album in every way. With the majority of rap being dumbed-down and contrived these days, “Soul On Ice” is like a breath of fresh air if you play it today. What this genre needs is an unconventional opinion and some lyrical skill – club-focussed Hip-Hop has its place but every now and again rap fans need to wake up and hear what’s really going on. The issues tackled in “Soul On Ice” haven’t gone away, so where is the next generation’s equivalent commentary on society and politics?

Hip-Hop On Ice.

Beats: 6/10

Rhymes: 10/10

Overall: 8/10

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18 replies »

  1. I still think “Blasphemy” easily surpasses “Soul On Ice” .

    Much better production & it was even more complex & heartfelt . I’ve heard that Apollo Brown & Ras Kass are going to make another album together that will be released on Mello Music Group .

    The “Breakfast At Banksy’s” album Razzy did with the electronic music producer Jack Splash was released on Mello Music Group . It came out one year ago (give or a take a week) . It had the outstanding tracks “Jesus Pressed Mute” & “Can’t Give Up Now” .

    https://mellomusicgroup.bandcamp.com/album/breakfast-at-banksys

    Apollo Brown is a great producer . So far , other than Ras Kass , he hasn’t made albums with rappers I am a big fan of . There’s nothing wrong with Journalist 103 , Boog Brown , Hassan Mackey , O.C. , Guilty Simpson , Verbal Kent , Red Pill , Planet Asia , Skyzoo , Torae or Ghostface Killah . They are dope . But they aren’t my favourite lyricists . It’s my preference .

    Apollo should make an album with One Be Lo / Binary Star , Gift Of Gab of Blackalicious , Vinnie Paz , Rakim (if only) , Esham , Kool G Rap , Big Daddy Kane (would be insane if that happened) , Chino XL , K-Rino , Andy Mineo , Lecrae , Virtuoso , Slug , Del The Funky Homosapien , Hopsin or Canibus .

    I think Razzy still has the potential to release an ever better album than “Blasphemy” & “Soul On Ice” if he could line up the featured guest artists & producer / producers . It would need to have a higher production budget . Razzy would have to not rush the release date & take a lot of time planning every track on the album .

  2. I was listening to some tracks from “Intellectual Property” while working out today . On “And Then …” Ras Kass shouts out & big ups Dr. Dre .

    http://genius.com/Ras-kass-and-then-lyrics

    And On “Bardom” he shouts out & praises Eminem .

    http://genius.com/Ras-kass-bardom-lyrics

    It’s almost 2017 . Why the fuck at this point in his career does he do this ?? Dre & Eminem’s music is the antithesis of what Razzy’s music is supposed to stand for .

  3. Also on “And Then…” Razzy says :

    “And I’m turning atheist but it’s just God’s plan ,
    And I’m probably just a mortal , but not just a man ,
    I’m a spirit , I’m a will , impossible force fam …”

    Do you think he is an agnostic now ?

    That would be a huge 180 from where he was during the era of “Soul On Ice” . The era where he supported Farrakhan , The Five Percent Nation & mainline Islam (Sunni , Shia) .

    2 years ago on “Blasphemy” he professed pantheistic views & also his continued his Black Nationalist point of view . Some would call it religious Black Nationalism .

    In February 2015 Ras Kass wrote this .

    View story at Medium.com

    It seems he doesn’t conform to mainstream anthropologist’s view that Ancient Egyptians & Ancient Israelites WERE NOT black Africans . The Ancient Egyptians & Ancient Israelites are said to be of similar ethnicity to the people living in Lebanon today . Dark-skinned Semitic peoples , not black Africans .

    Razzy’s views would be considered historical revisionism . X-Clan , Kam , Pete Rock , C.L. Smooth , Jeru The Damaja , Guru (Rest In Paradise) , MC Shan , AZ , Nas , KRS-One , Black Sheep , Del The Funky Homosapien , Souls Of Mischief , Erykah Badu , Digable Planets , Positive K , Native Tongues , Juice Crew , J-Live , Big Daddy Kane , MF Doom , Black Thought , Just-Ice , Blaq Poet , Lakim Shabazz , Freddie Foxxx , Viro The Virus (Rest In Paradise) , Boot Camp Clik , Brand Nubian , The Wu-Tang Clan , Rakim , Jus Allah , Poor Righteous Teachers & many of the Wu-Tang affiliates have declared similar views during their careers .

    There are many , many more than that . But I named the artists I could think of in the span of 1 or 2 minutes .

    Before the late , great Sean Price (Rest In Paradise) passed he willed that his body be ritually cleansed by male family members & close friends in accordance with mainline Islamic beliefs .

    Buckshot was one of the men that did this . He even talked about it in a Vlad TV interview .

    I don’t see many younger or newer emcees follow the N.O.I. , The Five Percent Nation or mainline Islam . Lupe Fiasco , Freeway , Loon , Viro The Virus (R.I.P.) & Jay Electronica would be the notable American rappers ( that have gained fame after the year 2000 ) that I can think of .

  4. My above comments have grammar , syntax & spelling errors . I typed very quickly after listening to those Ras Kass tracks that hugely disappointed me .

    Why doesn’t Razzy shout out Saafir , DJ Battle Cat , 4th Avenue Jones , Coolio , Jaz-O , Easy Mo Bee , Voodu , Stu-B-Doo , Jazze Pha , Jah Skillz , The Mystik Journeymen , The Living Legends Crew , Strong Arm Steady , Twista , Bad Azz , El Drex , The Beat Junkies , The Visionaries , DBA Flip , R.C. , WC , Jurassic 5 , Punchline , Kid Capri , Mack 10 or Chino XL ??

    My guess is that shouting those guys out doesn’t generate social media buzz / interest & that almost all of them are considered “has-beens” in mainstream hip hop .

    I’d rather listen to them than Eminem or Dr. Dre , though .

    Ras Kass shouted out Sway & King Tech . I respect that loyalty . He should have shouted out Coolio . Coolio helped him get started in a big way . Razzy was even featured on a track from Coolio’s studio album , “Gangsta’s Paradise” , from 1995 . That album was huge at the time .

    • He should have given a shout-out to everybody that helped him get where he is today, and that includes Key Kool & Rhettmatic / LMNO / Ahmad / Coolio / Golden State Warriors (Saafir/Xzibit) / Western HemisFear (Voodoo, Mykill Miers, Meen Green, Bird) / Da Hrsmn (Canibus, Killah Priest, Kurupt), Sway & Tech and everybody in the Wakeup Show Anthem (Lauryn Hill, Nas, Pharoahe Monch, Prince Po, Shyeim, Dread Scott, Saafir (again)) / and anybody who’s put political Hip-Hop on the map (KRS-One, dead prez, Immortal Technique etc.).

      Although Ras has always tried to appeal to the core/mainstream West Coast fans/rappers (Mack 10/Dre etc.) I think his attempts at crossing over have always failed and they’ve never fit into his lyrical ethos. Dr. Dre and Eminem in particular are the last people he should give a shout-out to, especially Eminem – I thought all white men were “potential predators”? Like I said in the Intellectual Property review, how can you give props to the writer of “Foolish Pride” when you made “Nature Of The Threat”? That’s basically selling out.

    • I forgot about Western HemisFear & Dread Scott . He mentioned Canibus & Xzibit on “Intellectual Property” . He didn’t big up them as much as he did to Dr. Dre or Eminem . Ahmad was in 4th Avenue Jones . LMNO , DJ Rhettmatic & Key-Kool are members of The Visionaries .

      In 2014 he did a track called “Historic” with The HRSMN that added in Tragedy Khadafi .

  5. I don’t get why so many people, on this site, as well as in certain hip hop groups, have to always diss on Soul on Ice because of it’s production. I think the majority of beats are very good, not in the sense that I enjoy listening to them or that they are on par with something Large Professor or Beatminerz could muster, but because they perfectly captured the mood of the album. The whole album blatantly states it is a more lyrical centerpiece then instrumental, so people should understand that. Subjects on the album range from criticizing regular traditions by americans, rebelling against the government, and questioning institutions and well-believed theories, so it makes sense for songs like “Nature of the threat” to have an atmospheric, scary, depressing tone with bells tolling, whereas “Interview with a Vampire” contains a layed-back symph-like sound playing through it.

    The album isn’t perfect, nor do I agree with some of the political stances, but at the end of the day, sometimes you have to respect things for what they are. Soul on Ice is just that, and in its case it is considered by many underground fans as one of the best highlights of 1997.

  6. I really hope Razzy drops “Soul On Ice 2” before the end of 2016 . After listening to “Intellectual Property : Deluxe Edition” over again I’ve started to like it more . “Hood On Ice” , “#WWJD” feat. Delorean , “Pay Pal The Feature” feat. Sean Price (Rest In Paradise) and General Steele , “Downward Spiral” feat. Bumpy Knuckles and Onyx , “Talk Greazy” feat. A-F-R-O , “Promised Land” , “Beautiful Mind” feat. Teedra Moses , “In The Moment” , “Goodbye” and “Intellectual Property” are great tracks .

    https://www.indiegogo.com/projects/ras-kass-soul-on-ice-2-hiphop#/

    If you check the info from his Indie Go Go page you can see that Razzy is trying to line up some big features and producers for “Soul On Ice 2″ .

    ” Intellectual Property (IP) is nearly completed (track list forthcoming soon) with features and production including KRS-One , Bun B. , Statik Selektah , Apollo Brown , O.C. , A-F-R-O , Kurupt , Snow Goons , Killah Priest , Apathy and others . ”

    It says . Several of those features and producers never came to be on “Intellectual Property” .

    ” “Soul On Ice 2” is slated for release in December 2016 . Partly consisting of previously unreleased vintage 1995 recordings and audio , rare remixes , some remixes from legendary hip hop producers and brand new tracks inspired by S.O.I. . Already completed tracks include features and production from artists such as Diamond D , Immortal Technique , V. Bozeman , K-Rino , Apollo Brown , The Alchemist , Vinnie Paz , Styles P , M.O.P. , Faith Evans and more . We are fundraising with the goal of adding other stellar artists such as DJ Premier , The RZA , Anderson Paak , Justice League , Mos Def , L’Orange and Thunder Cat .

    In addition to dropping two new albums , Ras Kass will shoot several videos . One video is planned for his new song , “White Power” featuring Immortal Technique . He will also shoot a retro video for the hip hop classic ” Nature of the Threat . ” ”

    Oddly enough it says that the fundraising for “Soul On Ice 2” is closed .

  7. If “Soul On Ice 2” has some of the proposed feature tracks with decent production values it will be monumental . Immortal Technique , Mos Def and K-Rino are the ones I’m looking forward to most . I really hope he gets RZA , Apollo Brown , L’Orange , Statik Selektah , Snow Goons or DJ Premier to produce those tracks .

    • I’m definitely looking forward to his collaboration with K-Rino, I hope that they make a “historical” Hip-Hop record which blends Nature Of The Threat with Grand Deception.

      I have to say though, that December is coming to an end and the fund-raiser for SOI2 has only generated a third of it’s ask.

      It states on the fund-raiser page that the fundraising for SOI2 is now “closed”…

      https://www.indiegogo.com/projects/ras-kass-soul-on-ice-2-hiphop#/

      Ras Kass has released “Soul On Ice: Revisited X – Rediscovered. Deconstructed” which contains numerous remixes and lost tracks…

      Since the content of Soul On Ice 2 is supposed to contain “previously unreleased vintage 1995 recordings and audio, rare remixes, some remixes from legendary hip hop producers” I hope the release above isn’t some kind of replacement.

  8. Most of the bonus material from this newest release has been previously released on various Ras Kass compilations and collections . I own Razzy’s whole catalog in digital format . With the exception of a few tweaked remixes ( I wouldn’t really count these as new material ) , short bonus tracks and skits . I really hope he does release “Soul On Ice 2” . And that he makes a studio album with K-Rino .

    • @ What Went Right With

      What do you think of K-Rino’s “Grand Deception” . I think it is one of the greatest hip hop tracks ever . I believe in the supernatural and I am religious . But , I imagine , many materialist atheists would even find the content of “Grand Deception” very compelling . From a political and historical perspective . The song completely tells the truth about the diabolical , racist , vicious and greedy Founding Fathers of the United States for example . The American Founding Fathers also exploited the white male land owners , poor farmers , illiterate labourers and indentured servants who fought for them against The British . It reminds of what Brad Pitt’s character in “Killing Them Softly” said .

      ” My friend , Thomas Jefferson’s an American Saint because he wrote the words , ” All men are created equal . ” Words he clearly didn’t believe . Since he allowed his own biracial children to live in slavery . He was an extremely rich wine snob who was sick of paying taxes to the Brits . So yeah …. he wrote some lovely words and aroused the rabble . And they went out and died for those words . While he sat back and drank his wine and raped his slave girls . This guy wants to tell me we’re living in a community . Don’t make me laugh . I’m living in America . And in America you’re on your own . America’s not a country . It’s just a business . Now fucking pay me !!! ”

      No wonder people with the beliefs of Penn Jillette or Milo Yiannopoulos idolize Thomas Jefferson today .

      I am a huge Ras Kass fan . But sometimes I get really disappointed in him . Sometimes he condones fuckery and selling out . Like how he recently paid Joell Ortiz and RZA for terrible features . Or how he on “Intellectual Property” he big upped Dre and Marshall Mathers .

      On the track “Humble Pi” he took it way , way , way too easy on Wayne , Kanye and Jay-Z when he criticized them .

      K-Rino is a real hard cat . Almost like a 21st century Frederick Douglass .

    • “Grand Deception” a few years ago was the only song I knew when it came to K-Rino, and it was and still is one of my favourite songs by him. Any track that has the courage to air alternative history or non-mainstream opinions I applaud, I wish that more rappers had the balls to do the same.

      That’s what made Hip-Hop different than other genres of music, it was left-field and unorthodox until the mid-nineties, by the noughties the majority of rappers became annoyingly safe and conventional.

      On the subject of “Humble Pi”, I hate when someone has a quick blip of anti-mainstream opinion but then adds some contrived bullshit like the line “this ain’t hate” – that’s pretty much wussing out, almost like taking back what you just said. It’s things like that that disappoint me when it comes to a modern Ras Kass – there was no apologising on “Soul On Ice”, and that’s the way he should always be. So far K-Rino hasn’t switched up or watered down his opinion.

  9. I agree with you on “Humble Pi” . How he took back what he said after criticizing Kanye , Jay and Wayne . Not all of “Soul On Ice” was anti-mainstream . You might remember there is a skit at the end of one of the tracks where Ras Kass talks about attending a Jay-Z concert . I think the skit is done in the format of leaving a message on an answering machine or a telephone conversation with someone else (I can’t remember) . In 1996 Jay-Z was still a real hip hop artist . Still , I thought of it as Ras Kass kissing up to a more famous artist when he dropped Jay’s name .

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