Ras Ceylon

It may be ten years since we got a solo album from Oakland emcee Ras Ceylon, but one could argue that we needed this album more than almost any other, with the state of the world over the past year or two. ‘To SRV the PPL‘ is one of those albums that cuts through the general wave of dope hip hop – this is hip hop with a message, with that social commentary that speaks on truths, rather than creating street cinema, and Ras does so by infusion some soul, funk, reggae and bringing a handful of the homies along for the ride. Not only is this a fantastic hip hop album, this is a really important album in the vain of some early Public Enemy or when you first copped a Paris or Dead Prez album.

The power and beauty in Ras’ pen lies in the authenticity with which these bars are written. You feel what Ras is conveying, you hang on every line, you connect with him, you understand more deeply, the emcee behind the mic who delivers dope rhymes over killer beats. ‘1 Lankan Love‘ speaks to his Sri Lankan heritage and is a great way to open the album as it slaps you right in the face with a revolutionary tone from the jump and has it’s unique islander instruments blended throughout. ‘Resolution‘ brings that reggaeton into the spotlight as Ras’ music with a message continues to connect with the listener and that gruff delivery of Seti X ensures you pay attention before ‘Babylon Fallz‘ picks up the pace to deliver a track that really brings a sense of urgency, as well as speaking directly to the problems of the modern landscape and the journey to divide and conquer.

Prayerz Up‘ is a more traditional joint with boom bap drums scoring the soundtrack with a lovely crispness, and Sizzla & Young Shanty bring a vibrant essence to work alongside the narrative of Ceylon, and the almost eerie nature of ‘Summer of 2020‘ really permeates the production and transports you back into the coalface of some serious social injustice, while still maintaining a positive power. Prodigal Sunn immediately changes the nature of the ‘Rebel on the Roof‘ track, bringing those Wu vibes as his energy turns the dial way up, but continues to deliver poignant bars and drop knowledge on those heads who are tuned in.

It’s back to riding solo on the next few tracks and Ras certainly commands the mic with his message and presence on each and every track. ‘Live Ya Life’ is that true West Coast sound, with some trunk rattling synth and that bounce that makes the low riders jump, then ‘Purple Heart‘ brings it back to a more focused avenue as Ras showcases his ability to rapid fire spit his spirited prose. Kinetic 9 jumps on the mic for ‘Still Got It‘ and the two emcees both line them up and knock their verses out of the park over a really dusty joint that gets the head nodding and puts the pen skills on display.

Chamber Szn‘ features Timbo King & Solomon Childs, and really has that Public Enemy, marching in the street energy that evokes 80’s-esque emotion. It’s powerfully delivered both through the understated darkness inherent in the production, but also as each emcee takes it upon themselves to really ‘shift the earth’ with their verses. ‘Revolutionary Love‘ continues this same ‘fight the power’ energy but this time Ras needs no help to convey his commanding social commentary, riding solo over the energetic street anthem. ‘1999‘ hits the brakes and completely switches it up, with a slow paced, melodic joint but this ain’t a track for the clubs, this is STILL about change, healing, unity and the fight for freedom. ‘3 The Godway RMX‘ brings LA the Darkman and Prodigal Sunn to once again spit their teachings over another powerful and soulful track, which is a really dope way to close out this journey of energetic, passionate and moving music.

Bangers: Rebel on the Run, Chamber Szn, 1 Lankan Love, Still Got It, Revolutionary Love.

Score: 9 / 10. This album isn’t your usual run of the mill hip hop journey. There is a real message here and it has been delivered in a unique and authentic way that has you hitting rewind, not just to catch the cleverly crafted bars, but to gain a deeper understanding and insight into the social commentary thaty Ras Ceylon and guests take the time to deliver for us. This album takes you through a gamut of emotions, not just challenging your mental, but providing intelligent edutainment for the listener. ‘To SRV the PPL’ is a really important hip hop album, and one you should spend a few hours experiencing.

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About The Author

By Brutus Maximus

Founder of Raw Side Hip Hop. Been rocking with the hip hop culture for over 30 years. Love the creativity, authenticity of the art and the culture as a whole. Shout out to the real ones making and supporting true hip hip and the artists who make it!