Ras Kass

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Ras Kass
Birth name John Austin IV
Also known as The Waterproof Emcee, Pestilence, Conquest, Razzy Kazzy, The Endangered Lyricist, The Black John McCane
Born (1973-09-26) September 26, 1973 (age 41)
Watts, California, United States
Origin Carson, California, United States
Genres Hip hop
Occupation(s) Rapper, Producer
Years active 1994–present
Labels Patchwerk Recordings, Priority, Zoo Life, Re-Up Entertainment, Mello Music Group
Associated acts The HRSMN, Kurupt, Xzibit, Saafir, 40 Glocc, Canibus, Killah Priest, Chino XL, Krondon, Phil Da Agony, Planet Asia, Da Beatminerz, Dr. Dre, Crooked I, Coolio, Bishop Lamont, Dina Rae, Apollo Brown
Website www.raskass.bandcamp.com

John Austin IV, (born September 26, 1973) better known by his stage name Ras Kass, is an American rapper. He returned as a member of the hip hop supergroup The HRSMN along with Canibus, Killah Priest, and Kurupt in 2014.[1] Ras is a member of the group Golden State Warriors with Xzibit and Saafir. Editors of About.com ranked him #30 on their list of the Top 50 MCs of Our Time (1987–2007).[2] Pitchfork Media called him "one of the best rappers of all time." [3]


Austin was born in Watts, California on September 26, 1973.[4] In 1996 he had twin sons (Ras and Taj) with R&B and soul singer-songwriter Teedra Moses.[5][6] BMF Entertainment artist Barima "Bleu DaVinci" McKnight is his cousin.[7]

Early career[edit]

Ras Kass took his stage name from the legendary Ethiopian Emperor Yohannes IV whose name was Ras Kassa Mircha before he was crowned as an emperor. Ras Kass sent waves through the hip-hop world with his debut independent single release "Remain Anonymous," earning him a Hip-Hop Quotable in The Source Magazine. Before his signing with Priority/EMI Records, Ras Kass began making guest appearances on several records and freestyles on numerous radio shows, further solidified the emerging lyricist's notoriety. Recorded guest appearances include Sway & King Tech's "Come Widdit" (feat. Ras Kass, Ahamad & Saafir) (Priority Records) and their "Wake Up Show Anthem ’94" (feat. Ras Kass, Nas, Lauryn Hill, Chino XL, Organized Konfusion & Saafir), as well as Chino XL's "Riiot" American Records, and KeyKool & Rhettmatic's "E=MC5" (feat. Ras Kass, LMNO, Meen Green &  !) Up Above Records.

Soul on Ice & Rasassination[edit]

From a young age, Austin was influenced by hip hop music, inspired by a variety of emcees including Ice Cube, Rakim, Scarface, and KRS-One. His first album, Soul on Ice, was released in 1996. Taking its name from a book by Eldridge Cleaver, Ras addressed racial relations in the same manner, most notably with "Ordo Abchao" and "Nature of the Threat." The album was released on Priority Records, as was the follow-up, Rasassination, which featured beats from Easy Mo Bee and guest appearances by RZA, Twista, Xzibit, Mack 10 and Dr. Dre. Lead single "Ghetto Fabulous" featured Dre and Mack 10 and was pushed by a lavish video shoot. The album received generally positive reviews,[8] and shortly afterward the MC announced his third album, Van Gogh.

Priority Issues, Van Gogh & Goldyn Chyld[edit]

During the recording of Ras's intended third album, Van Gogh, Priority Records merged with Capitol Records, which acquired the emcee’s contract and his material.[9] Initially near completion, the album was heavily bootlegged before any single or promotion could be prepared. In fact, the would-be single "Van Gogh" was even played on an episode of The Sopranos. Ras went back to work overhauling the project, procuring tracks from DJ Premier, Hi-Tek, and Dr. Dre and retaining songs from Rockwilder and Battlecat. Tensions arose during the re-recording, from budget restrictions to lack of promotion: Despite the fact that "Van Gough" remained shelved the album's singles "Back It Up" and "Goldyn Chyd" received decent amount of spins on Los Angeles urban contemporary radio stations KKBT (The Beat) and KPWR (Power 106) during the course of 2001-02.

Ras Kass was also involved in The HRSMN, sometimes called the 4 Hrsmn, consisting of himself, Kurupt (of Tha Dogg Pound), Killah Priest, and Canibus. The Horsemen Project, a white-label of rough tracks by the four, was released in 2003, but no other releases have been subsequently forthcoming. Finally, nearing the completion of his album, the MC and Priority disagreed over the lead single. Originally pushing "Goldyn Chyld," produced by DJ Premier, Priority executives decided to try to release the Dr. Dre-produced "The Whoop" instead, against the wishes of both Ras Kass and Dr. Dre. As he was finishing up Goldyn Chyld, Kass was pulled over in California and arrested for a D.U.I., marking his third; though sentenced to jail time, he was given an extension. Two weeks before the start of his sentence, Priority informed him of their decision not to put out Goldyn Chyld after all. Becoming a fugitive, Ras attained the masters to his project, recorded some music, and finally turned himself in to police.[10] During this time, he also had minor problems with producer the Alchemist, who sold Ras a beat that he later re-sold to rapper Jadakiss, which ultimately formed the basis for the track "We Gon' Make It."[11]

Incarceration, Institutionalized I & II, Priority Release[edit]

After serving only 19 months for his D.U.I. charge, Ras Kass recorded the album Institutionalized and began seeking release from his contract with Priority/Capitol Records. Though intended to be an album, it was released as a mixtape,[12] generating a moderate buzz[13][14] despite Capitol's alleged reluctance.[14] He would go on to release two more mixtapes in 2006, Revenge of the Spit and Eat or Die, and got into a fight with former G-Unit rapper The Game over an alleged reference to the rapper's son in a freestyle.[15] In October 2007, Kass finally succeeded in being released from his record contract.[9] However, after rumors of a deal with Def Jam or G-Unit Records,[16] he was again incarcerated, this time for violating his parole by flying to the 2007 BET Awards. During this time, he put out the album Institutionalized Volume 2 on Babygrande Records. After nearly two years of incarceration, Ras Kass was released from jail at the end of May 2009.[17]

Ras Kass talks about his arrest and incarceration in the 2011 film Rhyme and Punishment which documents Rap artists who have spent time behind bars.

The Quarterly[edit]

Featured in HipHopDX's 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 comprises a song a week released in the fashion of fellow west coast emcee Crooked I's Hip-Hop Weekly and Freeway's Month of Madness.[18] "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.[19]

A.D.I.D.A.S. Kickstarter Project & Save The Ras Kass[edit]

Flyer with the South African dates of the Ras Kass A.D.I.D.A.S. album tour, 2011.

In early 2010 Ras Kass launched a Kickstarter campaign to fund the manufacture of 1000 CDs and 500 vinyls for his A.D.I.D.A.S. (All Day I Dream About Spittin) project and a viral marketing campaign called "Save The Ras Kass", which included a series of satirical web episodes about the plight of the endangered emcee.[20] In an interview with MTV UK writer Han O'Connor he explained his decision to use Kickstarter, stating "we started trying different angles at solving old problems. Kickstarter was the natural evolution of trying creative new business models. When we put out The Quarterly there were people that said, ‘well how come you didn’t create a CD for this?’ and I’m like ‘well if I have to spend that $5000 and you want one, I appreciate it but there’s the small problem that I spent $5000.’"[21] His webisodes document the downfall of an emcee, as he explained, "You just see this downward spiral; it’s just that fall from grace and I’m kind of making fun of that and using me as the vehicle for it."[21] Finally, Ras Kass exceeded the $3,800 needed for the record in less than five days,[22] with the project being released as a limited edition double CD and LP on July 20, 2011.[23]


On November 2012 Ras Kass stated that he had changed the name of his upcoming LP from "P.U.M.A." (Pushin Underground Music Always) to "Barmageddon", which was released on February 12, 2013.[24] Barmageddon includes features from Kendrick Lamar, MK Asante, Bishop Lamont, Ice T, Too Short, and Talib Kweli.


Studio albums[edit]

Year Album Peak chart positions
U.S. U.S. R&B
1996 Soul on Ice
  • Released: September 17, 1996
  • Label: Priority
169 35
1998 Rasassination
  • Released: June 23, 1998
  • Label: Priority
63 11

Unreleased Albums[edit]

  • Van Gogh (2001)
  • Goldyn Chyld (2002)

Independent Albums[edit]

  • Barmageddon (2013)
  • Barmageddon 2.0 (2014)
  • Goldyn Chyld: Reissue (Official Bandcamp Album) (2014)

Collaboration Albums[edit]

  • 2003: The Horsemen Project (with HRSMN)
  • 2007: Chinese Graffiti (with Jay 211 & Namebrand)
  • 2010: A.D.I.D.A.S. (All Day I Dream About Spittin) (with DJ Rhettmatic)
  • 2011: The Yellow Snow EP (with Doc Hollywood)
  • 2012: Spit No Evil (with Doc Hollywood)
  • 2013: Drop No Evil EP (with Louie Rubio)
  • 2014: Historic EP (with HRSMN)
  • 2014: Blasphemy (with Apollo Brown)

Compilation Albums[edit]

  • Re-Up: The Compilation (2003)
  • Razzy Kazzy (2007)


  • Sampler on Ice (Promo Demo Tape) (1996)
  • The Van Gogh Preview CD (Hosted by DJ Doo Wop & DJ Kay Slay) (2001)
  • Goldyn Chyld (Album Preview CD) (Hosted by Kid Capri) (2002)
  • On the Run (Hosted by DJ Lt. Dan) (2003)
  • Run away Slave Mixtape (Hosted by Tung Ha) (2003)
  • Guess Who's Back: Freestyles '05 Vol.1 (2005)
  • Institutionalized (2005)
  • Revenge of the Spit (Hosted by DJ Dow Jones) (2006)
  • Eat or Die (2006)
  • Institutionalized Volume 2 (2008)
  • Quarterly (2009)
  • The Endangered Lyricist (2010)
  • The Endangered Lyricist Vol.2 (2010)
  • The Endangered Lyricist Vol.3 (2011)
  • Barmageddon: The Mixtape (Hosted by DJ J-Ronin) (2012)
  • ChristMess (2014)


Year Single Chart positions Album
U.S. R&B U.S. Rap
1996 "Anything Goes" 85 20 Soul on Ice
"Soul on Ice Remix" 82 22
1998 "Ghetto Fabulous" (featuring Dr. Dre and Mack 10) 56 Rasassination
2010 "Golden Child II" A.D.I.D.A.S.
2012 "Sushi" Barmageddon

Guest Appearances[edit]

List of non-single guest appearances, with other performing artists, showing year released and album name
Title Year Other artist(s) Album
"Come Widdit" 1994 Ahmad, Saafir Street Fighter (soundtrack)
"E=MC5 (Bust the Scientifical)" 1995 KeyKool & DJ Rhettmatic, LMNO, Voodoo, Meen Green Kozmonautz
"Get Up, Get Down" Coolio, Malika, Shorty, Leek Ratt, P.S., WC Gangsta's Paradise
"Riiiot!" 1996 Chino XL Here to Save You All
"Miami Life" N/A The Substitute (soundtrack)
"Plastic Surgery" Xzibit, Saafir At the Speed of Life
"It Ain't Nothing Nice" DBA Flip Flip on This
"Uni-4-Orm" 1997 Heltah Skeltah, Canibus Rhyme & Reason (soundtrack)
"The Ebonic Plague" Cru Da Dirty 30
"Hit 'Em" Coolio My Soul
"Arch Angels" Xzibit The Lawhouse Experience, Volume One
"Action Guaranteed" 1998 O.C. Lyricist Lounge, Volume One
"3 Card Molly" Xzibit, Saafir 40 Dayz & 40 Nightz
"One On One" Kid Capri, Punchline Soundtrack to the Streets
"Handwriting On the Wall" RZA Bobby Digital in Stereo
"Sophisticated Thugs" 1999 Bootleg Death Before Dishonesty
"Line on Fire" Domingo, Bamboo, F.T., KRS-One, Godsons, MC Shan Behind the Doors of the 13th Floor
"Play the Cards I Was Given" Mr. Mike Rhapsody
"The 7th" Ice-T, Marc Live, Catastraphe The Seventh Deadly Sin
"All Checks Are Cleared" D.B.A. Doing Business As...
"On Top of the World" Battlecat, Hot B, Skitso G Gumbo Roots
"West Coast Mentality" 2000 N/A 3 Strikes (soundtrack)
"Game" Mystikal WWF Aggression
"La Vida Bloka" Clee & Drank-A-Lot Good Laaawd That's a Lot of Drank
"What Part of the Game?" Killah Priest View from Masada
"Heaven or Grimmripping" IRS America's Ghettos
"Horsementality" Canibus, Killah Priest, Kurupt 2000 B.C. (Before Can-I-Bus)
"Spazz Out" David Banner Them Firewater Boyz, Vol. 1
"I Gets Paper" Mr. D.O.G Ghetto Politics
"Heart of the Assassin" Chace Infinite, Krondon, Phenam a.k.a. Don Krisis Soul Assassins II
"Bounce, Rock, Golden State" 2001 Xzibit, Saafir Training Day (soundtrack)
"2001 4dr. Cadillac" Bad Azz, Sylk-E. Fyne, Butch Cassidy Personal Business
"Bentleys & Bitches" Da Beatminerz, Jayo Felony Brace 4 Impak
"My Bloc" 2002 Caz, Kurupt, Roscoe Goin Head Up
"What Type" 2003 40 Glocc The Jakal
"Rise of the Machines" Jedi Mind Tricks Visions of Gandhi
"Comin' from the Lower5 Level" 2004 CHOPS, Phil Da Agony, Talib Kweli Virtuosity
"Lyrical Swords" 2005 GZA Wu-Tang Meets the Indie Culture
"Making the Rounds" Rasco The Dick Swanson Theory
"Introducin" 2006 Vakill Worst Fears Confirmed
"Legendary" Mr. D.O.G, Scipio Backstreets & Boulevards
"Flashlight" The Alchemist, 40 Glocc No Days Off
"Musical Murdah" 2007 Hell Razah Renaissance Child
"125 Part 3 (Connections)" Joell Ortiz, Stimuli, Grafh, Gab Gacha The Brick: Bodega Chronicles
"Inner G" Killah Priest, Canibus, Kurupt The Offering
"U Ain't Me" Strong Arm Steady, Chamillionaire, Xzibit Deep Hearted
"Killen Em" Cool Nutz King Cool Nutz
"Go Hard" 2008 Bishop Lamont, Black Milk, Royce da 5'9" Caltroit
"The Corner" Termanology, Doo Wop, Alias Khryst Da Cameo King
"Payback" Immortal Technique, Diabolic The 3rd World
"Be Cool" Bishop Lamont, Xzibit, Glasses Malone, Mykestro The Confessional
"2010 Wake Up Show Anthem" 2010 Sway & King Tech, B-Real, Crooked I, DJ Jazzy Jeff, DJ Qbert, DJ Revolution, Kam Moye, Locksmith, RZA, Tajai, Tech N9ne N/A
"I Wanna Rock" (West Coast Remix) Snoop Dogg, Daz Dillinger, Kurupt, Crooked I, Nipsey Hussle
"Catalyst for Change" Truthlive, Finale Patience
"Smoke Sumthin'" Cypress Hill, Kurupt, Young De Smoke Out Compilation
"I Got Mines" Ski Beatz, Tabi Bonney, Nikki Wray, Stalley 24 Hour Karate School
"The Golden Cypher" 2011 Canibus, K-Solo Lyrical Law
"The Red Carpet" Evidence, Raekwon Cats & Dogs
"Classical" 2012 Planet Asia, Jasiri X Black Belt Theatre
"The Book" KnowMads, La The KnewBook
"3 the Hard Way" Crooked I, Kurupt Psalm 82:v6
"Californication" David Banner, Snoop Dogg, Nipsey Hussle, Kree, The Game Sex, Drugs & Video Games
"What The West Like" Snowgoons, Planet Asia, Krondon Snowgoons Dynasty
"Play No Games" 2014 Shane Dollar, Jesse Taylor, Deep Thawts N/A
"48 Laws (Part 1)" Apollo Brown Blasphemy



  1. ^ "Canibus, Kurupt, Killah Priest, & Rass Kass (The HRSMN) - Historic Audio | Ambrosia For Heads". ambrosiaforheads.com. Retrieved 2014-11-06. 
  2. ^ "Top 50 MCs of Our Time: 1987 – 2007 – 50 Greatest Emcees of Our Time". Rap.about.com. Retrieved 2012-11-16. 
  3. ^ "Jedi Mind Tricks: Visions of Gandhi | Album Reviews | Pitchfork". pitchfork.com. Retrieved 2014-11-06. 
  4. ^ Jason Ankeny (1973-09-25). "Ras Kass | Biography". AllMusic. Retrieved 2015-07-18. 
  5. ^ Teedra Moses: Simply Complex Part Two Allhiphop.com
  6. ^ Teedra Moses: A Conversation with the Young Lioness (2008) Beatsboxingmayhem.com
  7. ^ RAS KASS: “Let the Truth be Told“ Hiphopclub.biz, 2006
  8. ^ Nathan Rabin (1998-09-22). "Rasassination - Ras Kass | Songs, Reviews, Credits, Awards". AllMusic. Retrieved 2015-07-18. 
  9. ^ a b "Ras Kass and Capitol Records finally part ways.". CraveOnline. Retrieved 9 March 2015. 
  10. ^ "Ras Kass - HipHop-Elements.com". Retrieved 9 March 2015. 
  11. ^ [1][dead link]
  12. ^ "Exclusive Hip Hop News, Audio, Lyrics, Videos, Honeys, Wear, Sneakers, Download Mixtapes". Retrieved 9 March 2015. 
  13. ^ "Mixtape Monday: Mixtape Monday: Ras Kass Claims L.A. Crown; Ice-T Considers 'New Jack' Sequel". Retrieved 9 March 2015. 
  14. ^ a b [2][dead link]
  15. ^ "Ras Kass - Bet That". Xxlmag.com. 2006-09-19. Retrieved 2009-09-21. 
  16. ^ [3][dead link]
  17. ^ [4][dead link]
  18. ^ "Lil B - Bitch Mob (Respect The Bitch)". HipHopDX. 16 May 2011. Retrieved 9 March 2015. 
  19. ^ "Ras Kass Announces Release & Tracklisting Of The Quarterly". HipHopDX. 15 November 2009. Retrieved 9 March 2015. 
  20. ^ RAS KASS: A.D.I.D.A.S. - Limited Edition CD & Vinyl Kickstarter.com
  21. ^ a b "Ras Kass MTV UK Interview (by Han O'Connor)". MTV UK’s The Wrap Up. 2010-03-12. Retrieved 2010-05-17. 
  22. ^ Ras Kass Asks Fans To Donate $3,800 To Release Next Album Hiphopdx.com, 23 February 2010
  23. ^ Ras Kass Laces "A.D.I.D.A.S." Up, "Play My Sh*t Against Whoever Says They Got A Hot Album" Sohh.com, 20 July 2010
  24. ^ "Ras Kass "Barmageddon" Album Stream | Get The Latest Hip Hop News, Rap News & Hip Hop Album Sales | HipHop DX". hiphopdx.com. Retrieved 2014-11-06. 

External links[edit]