In anticipation of his upcoming Barmageddon album, Cali underground vet recently released The Barmageddon Mixtape, in association with DJ Booth and Bare Arms Clothing. Ras Kass has been spitting some of the hardest body-blow lyrics for years now, and is counted among one of the greatest lyricists of his generation. The Barmageddon Mixtape solidifies him as that and displays a lyrical beast at his best on track after track.

Clearly disappointed with the direction Hip Hop has taken in the past few years from an artists’ perspective, it’s evident that Ras is taking much of the garbage music personally and considers it his duty to remind Hip Hop fans of the basics: bars, lyricism, wordplay, heavy-hitting beats and dusty soul sample-based production. This is clearest on a track like “Holes in the Ozone” where Ras uses the hook to take shots at radio-friendly Hip Pop, and even Hova and ‘Ye with the line “I wear my own crown, I ain’t watchin’ no throne…”

But Ras is also famous for getting politically and socially aware, and does so sincerely on “The Great Recession” and “Payback”, where he convincingly and angrily hits on everything from Occupy Wall Street to the current Obama Administration Drone controversy to the World Bank, the war in Afghanistan and Bill O’Reilly.

Some of the best moments on Barmageddon that aren’t geared towards the political or the lyrical (at least not entirely) are “Manna” with J Natural and “Focus” featuring Kendrick Lamar. Both display fast-paced wordplay by Ras and his guests, while the beats lean towards classically funky, laid-back, smoked out Cali production that might put more than a few of his fans in the mood to roll one.

Ras Kass doesn’t deviate to far from his proverbial script. With a mixture of an all-star cast of guest appearances from Cali’s and Hip Hop’s finest (The Game, E-40, Kendrick Lamar, Raekwon), uncompromising battle-tested bars, a few politically savvy tracks and engaging production, he’s created a solid mixtape that can hopefully build strong anticipation for his upcoming Barmageddon LP.

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