Rapper, Ras Kass was born John Austin in Watts, CA. He grew up in Carson, California, and
from a young age was influenced by the old-school rappers of the likes of Ice Cube, Rakim,
Scarface and KRS-One. A voracious reader throughout his youth, he adopted his stage
name in honor of the African King Ras Rass. After releasing a pair of independent singles,
Ras Kass emerged as one of the most highly regarded new rappers in some time, winning
particular acclaim for his skills as a lyricist (in a six month period, he twice earned Rap Pages
magazines Rhyme of the Month award as well as The Sources Hip Hop Quotable honor);
his long-awaited debut LP, Soul on Ice, finally appeared on Priority Records in 1996.
Rasassination followed two years later which featured a wide range of well-known rappers
including Dr. Dre, among others. The lead single, “Ghetto Fabulous,” featured Dr. Dre and
was promoted by a lavish video shoot. Both albums were released on Priority Records.
During the recording of Rass intended third album, Van Gogh, Priority Records merged
with Capitol Records, which acquired the rapper and his material. Though intended to be
an album, it was released as a mixtape generating a moderate buzz. Ras, later released
two more mixtapes in 2006, Revenge of the Spit and Eat or Die. In October of 2007, Kass
independently put out the album Institutionalized Vol. 2 on Babygrande Records.
Featured in HipHopDXs Underground Report, Ras Kass revealed that his next release would
be a project called The Quarterly. Originally intended to be completed within the fourth
quarter of 2009, it comprised a song a week released in the fashion of fellow west coast
emcee Crooked Is Hip-Hop Weekly and Freeways Month of Madness. "The Quarterly" was
released on November 23, 2009 via www.raskass-central.com and includes nineteen tracks
featuring collaborations by Killah Priest, Mistah F.A.B. and Krondon of Strong Arm Steady,
with production from Pete Rock, Veterano, and others.
On July 20, 2011 Ras, released A.D.I.D.A.S. (All Day I Dream About Spittin), the project was
released as a limited edition double CD and LP. In 2012 Ras released the mixtape,
Barmageddon and released an LP of the same name in February of 2013 which included
features from Kendrick Lamar, MK Asante, Bishop Lamont, Ice T, Too Short, and Talib Kweli.
In 2014, Ras Kass joined the hip hop supergroup known as The HRSMN, with his fellow rappers
Kurupt, Killah Priest, Canibus.
On January 19, 2016, Ras Kass released, his most recent project, “Lyrical HipHop is Dead”
Inspired by Montreal native Kaytranada’s 2014 “Instrumental Hip Hop Is Dead”, an intriguing
selection of hard-hitting unreleased production. “Lyrical” takes some of those same tracks
and reworks them into new original songs & remixes. A fresh take on a masterful work
mixed/arranged by Felony Muzik and mastered by Redsecta. The Digital Album is available
for purchase via https://raskass.bandcamp.com/.