Ras Kass
File:Ras Kass - Eat or Die Cover.JPG
Background information
Birth name John Austin IV
Born September 25, 1973 (1973-09-25) (age 45) in Watts, California, USA
Origin Carson, California, USA
Genres Hip hop
Occupations Rapper, Producer
Years active 1994 - present
Labels Priority
Associated acts The HRSMN, Xzibit, Saafir, 40 Glocc, Coolio, Chino XL, Scipio, Jay 211, DJ Rhettmatic

John Austin IV, (born September 25, 1973) better known by his stage name Ras Kass, is an American rapper. He is also a part of hip hop supergroup The HRSMN along with: Canibus, Killah Priest, and Kurupt.


Austin was born in Watts, California on September 26, 1973.[1]

Early career Edit

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 & RasassinationEdit

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," songs dealing in militant Afrocentrism. 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,[2] and shortly afterward the MC announced his third album, Van Gogh.

Priority Issues, Van Gogh & Goldyn ChildEdit

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.[3] Initially near completion, the album was heavily bootlegged before any single or promotion could be prepared. 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:

I would always tell Priority executives, "You give me a road kill cow and pair of scissors but you expect a pair of Air Jordans. It's not fair." Ironically, I would still somehow manage to make a couple pairs.

—Ras Kass

Ras Kass was also involved in The HRSMN, sometimes called the 4 Hrsmn, consisting of himself, Kurupt, 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 Child," 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 Child, 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 Child after all. Becoming a fugitive, Ras attained the masters to his project, recorded some music, and finally turned himself in to police.[4] 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."[5]

Incarceration, Institutionalized, Priority ReleaseEdit

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,[6] generating a moderate buzz[7][8] despite Capitol's alleged reluctance.[8] 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 .[9] In October 2007, Kass finally succeeded in being released from his record contract.[3] However, after rumors of a deal with Def Jam or G-Unit Records,[10] 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 Vol. 2 on Babygrande Records. After nearly two years of incarceration, Ras Kass was released from jail at the end of May 2009.[11]

The QuarterlyEdit

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. Though released in this format, the collected songs was released as an album.[12] "The Quarterly" was released on November 23, 2009 via 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.[13]

A.D.I.D.A.S. Kickstarter Project & Save The Ras KassEdit

In 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. project and a viral marketing campaign called Save The Ras Kass, which included a series of satirical webisodes about the plight of the endangered emcee. 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.’"[14] 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."[14]


Studio albumsEdit

Year Title Chart positions
U.S. Billboard 200 U.S. R&B
1996 Soul on Ice
  • Released: October 1, 1996
  • Label: Priority
84 18
1998 Rasassination
  • Released: September 22, 1998
  • Label: Priority
21 11
2001 Van Gogh
  • Released: Unreleased
  • Label:
2002 Goldyn Child
  • Released: Unreleased
  • Label:
2005 Institutionalized
2006 Eat or Die
2007 Razzy Kazzy
2008 Institutionalized 2
2010 A.D.I.D.A.S (All Day I Dream About Spittin)
  • Released: July 20, 2010
  • Label:


Year Single Chart positions Album
Billboard Hot 100 U.S. Rap
1996 "Anything Goes" 85 20 Soul on Ice
"Soul on Ice" 82 22
1998 "Ghetto Fabulous" (featuring Dr. Dre and Mack 10) 56 Rasassination
2010 "Release yourself" A.D.I.D.A.S.
"Goldyn Chyld 2"




  1. Ankeny, Jason. "Ras Kass > Biography". allmusic. Retrieved April 9, 2010. 
  2. Rabin, Nathan (1998-09-22). "((( Rasassination > Overview )))". allmusic. Retrieved 2010-07-30. 
  3. 3.0 3.1 Maddox, Dante. "Ras Kass and Capitol Records finally part ways.". Retrieved 2010-07-30. 
  4. "Ras Kass". Retrieved 2010-07-30. 
  5. "features | interviews | Ras Kass Interview by Kobi". Retrieved 2010-07-30. 
  6. "Exclusive Hip Hop News, Audio, Lyrics, Videos, Honeys, Wear, Sneakers, Download Mixtapes". 2005-10-03. Retrieved 2010-07-30. 
  7. "Mixtape Monday: Mixtape Monday: Ras Kass Claims L.A. Crown; Ice-T Considers 'New Jack' Sequel". 2006-03-09. Retrieved 2010-07-30. 
  8. 8.0 8.1 [1]Template:Dead link
  9. "Ras Kass - Bet That". 2006-09-19. Retrieved 2009-09-21. 
  10. "Features : Ras Kass: The New Deal". Retrieved 2010-07-30. 
  11. "Daily News - : Ras Kass Secures May Release Date From Prison". Retrieved 2010-07-30. 
  12. "Underground Report: Ras Kass | Rappers Talk Hip Hop Beef & Old School Hip Hop". HipHopDX. 2009-09-28. Retrieved 2010-07-30. 
  13. "Ras Kass Announces Release & Tracklisting Of The Quarterly | Get The Latest Hip Hop News, Rap News & Hip Hop Album Sales". HipHopDX. 2009-11-15. Retrieved 2010-07-30. 
  14. 14.0 14.1 "Ras Kass MTV UK Interview (by Han O'Connor)". MTV UK’s The Wrap Up. 2010-03-12. Retrieved 2010-05-17. 

External linksEdit

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