Ras Kass, Soul on Ice: Revisited (Blackhouse Records, 2016)

It's hard to believe, but it's been two decades since I first heard Diamond D's remix of Ras Kass' "Soul on Ice." I don't recall if I came across the track on one of Stretch and Bobbito's WKCR sessions or some other underground radio show, but it was definitely the first time I came across Ras and his sinister rhyme style. At that point, I was one of many stubborn New Yorkers who refused to believe a West Coast rapper could hold a candle (lyrically speaking) to our own homegrown emcees.

With "Soul on Ice" (also the name of his debut album), the Watts native proved us wrong. With its cinematic David Axelrod string sample and Ras' authoritative flow, the Diamond D remix sounds as chilling today as it did two decades ago.

To help celebrate the 20th anniversary of the Soul on Ice album, Blackhouse Records has put together an expanded version of the full-length, as it was originally intended by Ras before Priority Records fucked it all up. The new version also offers up an additional 21-track bonus CD of lost and unreleased material from around the time of the original album's release. I'll focus on the extra material here to help steer you in the right direction.

In addition to the aforementioned Diamond D remix, there are a few remixes included with the reissue that should bring a smile to any boom-bap era loyalist. Philly producer Felony Muzik turns in a smoothed-out take on "Anything Goes," while Da Beatminerz provide a deep bass groove for "Etc." Speaking of "Etc.," Joell Ortiz drops a new verse on the track, which sits beautifully next to Ras' boast attack. Brooklyn's J57 flips "On Earth as it is in Heaven" into a hypnotic swirl of choral vocals, vintage organs, and hard-hitting percussion. Soul on Ice: Revisited also includes a raw freestyle session from 1996 with Guru and Ras that features huge punchlines from each rapper.

If it isn't already obvious by my words here, rest assured, Soul on Ice: Revisited would be an appreciated stocking stuffer this holiday season for the rap fan on your shopping list.

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