If there isn’t a rapper that will always remained overlooked or shamelessly sabotaged by the politics of the Music Industry its Ras Kass. What Ras Kass was supposed to have been was the West Coast’s answer to Nas. During the period when Rappers wanted to act G’d up, Ras Kass chose to not talk about that during his first album.
He instead focused on controversal topics such as hypocrisy within Religion, Racism, Industry corruption, and blasting fake rappers. Many would claim that Soul on Ice is an underground classic but many felt that the production on Soul on Ice left alot to be desired. But lyrically its a masterpiece and possibly ahead of its time.
Nature of the Threat
Soul on Ice
Even though Soul on Ice’s record sales didn’t match his props. Ras Kass kept on grinding, He would be recognized as one of the West Coast top underground lyricists which at that period was the era of respect and props before sales. But for Ras Kass, He had to sell records in order to pay the bills. Respect wasn’t getting him paid so Priority gave him a bigger budget. For Rassassination he recruited Dr Dre, Easy Moe Bee, RZA, and got guest appearances from everyone from Twista, Kurupt, Mack 10, Xzibit, and others. He even had a song called Ghetto Fabolous rapping about the hood rich lifestyle which looked like it was out of Ras’s element.
Rassassination was a good album(In my opinion) but a critical and sales disappointment to many as it showcased Ras as an artist who’s lost in direction. He still dropped gems on songs such as Water Proof MC, Interview with a Vampire, Rasassination, and The End featuring RZA but the album turned away alot of his longtime fans and didn’t gain new ones.
Interview with a Vampire
Ras’s issue with Priority started around the time of recording his 3rd album Van Gogh and up and coming forth album Golden Child. Ras at this point was a very respected emcee by many of his peers but it seemed that Priority continuously tried to hardness his vision and make him out to be something he’s really not which was a gangsta rapper.
Fed up with the politics and not being able to be released from his contract despite constant negotiations and Xzibit even willing to buy Ras out so he can they can work on the Golden State Warriors album, Ras stole the master tapes away from the label and announced that he was a “Runaway Slave”.
But things will get much worse for Ras as Priority refuse to put out Golden Child but he was also on the run as a fugitive by not returning to police for a D.U.I. charge. Between Ras’s battle with Priority and him being on the run from the law. This gave Ras the biggest publicity he ever had in his career as this story would get coverage from all the hip hop publications including MTV. Ras shortly would turn himself in to authorities and start serving his 19 month term for a DUI offense. Despite being gone, Ras’s support from his peers was at an all time high.
Ras Kass Letter From Jail ..
First of all, I want to say thank you to my family and friends for all their support. Everyone who signed the “Free Ras Kass” petition, I consider you family; thank you, whole heartedly. I’m extremely appreciative to my homey’s West Coast to East who rode with me. I eluded the California Department of Corrections long enough to record and possibly release my music. I’m indebted to Kristi & Jo (Asti Management), Paul (allhiphop.com), Spon (RasKass-Central.com), 6 and Scipio ( Re-Up Ent.), Storm, Science, Dr No & Jason (Perfect Storm), C.L, Drew & Tone (Digi-Wax/ Stay Laist) and my attorney Randy Cutler of Cutler & Sedlmayer. Fuck Priority. Forever. With an AID’s- infected dildo. Especially Wendy Goldstein and Andrew Shack to name, a few. A great thanks to Bonsu for giving me a National platform to get some awareness out about what I was going through. One Love XXL, as well as 4 Corners, Murder Dog, and Eric Cubeechee at 100.3 the Beat. I won’t soon forget that. (Tung ha, you’re Re-up)
Since it’s no mystery where I am now, I do feel the need to clarify what it is I was fighting for, or as some saw it, running from. Also, to give an update as to the progress we made……
As those close to me know, I never had a problem serving my “debt to society”. I broke the law. I got caught. ‘Nuff said. God forgives- the State of California does not. Well, Robert Downey Jr. Maybe.
What I fought against was the systematic undermining of my economic wellbeing. The politics within the racist machine known as Priority/ Capital Records who, for 5 years, binded me in a recording contact but never fulfilled their part-promoting and distributing an album. Now ask yourself, “if I couldn’t get these people to put out an album nor would they agree to allow me to record elsewhere-how do I eat?!” compound that with the fact that anybody who tried to help was also slapped in the face. Platinum producers and artists who have not been paid in 2 years! Don’t believe me? Ask Mike City or Xzibit. Priority’s reputation as a garbage label and a plantation is common knowledge. Former employees will tell you the same. Ironically, when I expressed concern that I wasn’t being given a fair chance, Priority’s executives branded me “hard to deal with!” then ‘drunk!’ I was even told I was “too smart for my own good”. Whoa!
Anyway, needless to say, when Priority pulled this most recent bullshit and reneged, my entire album disappeared! 1.2 million dollars and 5 years worth of my wasted talent. If I’m black balled, so be it. But fuck them.
As of now it appears I’m finally free. Thank God, it looks like I can finally close the chapter of my life at the plantation, Priority. This August, Ras Kass presents ‘The Re-Up’ release. It’s a compilation that reminds me of a West coast Version of Nas’ the lost tapes. A lot of random shit and an introduction to my man Scipio. Next, the album I recorded while a fugitive, Catch Me If Can releases on Landspeed. Strictly spit. Mixtape Street shit. In the meantime and in between time the albums Priority “lost” will probably find their way to ya local bootlegger. There’s Van Gogh and Goldyn Chyld with beats by Rockwilder, Premiere, Dr Dre, Scott Storch, Hi Tek, Rick Rock and Mike City to mention a few. Its pure fire. Shamed it was wasted at corny ass Priority.
Anyway, I’m in this 2 man cell here in Bakers-field, CA. Its like 110 degree out here and my celly’s a crackhead. We get two hot meals a day and a peanut-butter & jelly sandwich for lunch. We’re in the cell about 23 hours a day. Shower every other day and there are NO phone privileges here. Fuck the rap songs and videos young people. Jail is not COOL! I’m blessed, ²²²²²s is in here doing way more time than me. Just yesterday somebody recognized me, told me to get out & drop some hot shit then told me he had to serve 30-life. That’s real.
To my folks I should see you sometime late in 2004. Haters, we wiping yall out. I’m kickin’ rocks.
Ras Kass Aka Tiger Hoods
Beef with Game
When Ras was released from Prison, He wasted no time hitting the booth and putting out new music. His flow seemed to be more venomous than ever. He spent less focusing on Politics and spent more trying to appeal to the streets. It was also clear that he wasn’t feeling the current West Coast Rap Scene as he would throw a diss at Compton MC/West Coast savior The Game on the track Caution:
It was a clear shot at the Game so Game seen Ras at a nightclub and confronted him about the record. Ras said something slick and feisty to the degree “This is Rap homie, It is what it is” and Game hit him with one clear shot in the face.
Game’s version of the fight
But what made Ras Kass look further embarrassing to the public was his video response to the fight. Ras sporting a black eye was standing among 20 white dudes talking about how tough he is and what they’re gonna do to Game. The video itself was comedy and did nothing but made Ras Kass look like a joke in the eyes of many.
Ras would fire diss records at The Game which would be very vicious but they wont be career ending and the fact that in the public eye Ras was looked upon as the dude who got knocked out and doing records to save face. It was a situation that didn’t do any harm to Game’s career and it certainly didn’t do anything to elevate Ras’s.
Hush Little Baby
Fresh New start
Finally after a decade of being held as a slave as Priority. Ras is finally able to walk around the game and look for other options. The Rap Game has changed and did a 360 over the past 5 years so him going to a major would be suicide at this point. The smart thing for him to do is to focus on putting out music through an Independent and weigh out major options for his future.
He need to possibly link back up with Xzibit and Safair to release that Golden State Warrior’s project or his crew the Four Horsemen(Canibus, Killa Priest, Kurupt)so we can finally see those dream projects come to life. He still has aptitude as proven on the song Jackin 4 beats where he took alot of pop beats and put his own form of lyricism to them:
Jackin 4 Pop Beats
Mike Jacks(Michael Jackson Tribute)
Golden Child 2
Now with the war with Priority behind him. We can only hope Ras Kass can finally find a home that can respect his craft and the direction that he wants to go with his music. He still has it in him to make a great album but he needs the support of his peers and producers to really bring a classic album out of him. The Horsemen and Golden State projects is a perfect start.