born John Austin in Watts, CA
he was a voracious reader as a child and eventually developed into one of the hottest rappers around cerca '94 and '95 with a knack for complex lyrics. his much awaited debut album "Soul On Ice" was critically acclaimed, but its lack of mainstream appeal (partially due to mediocre, yet underrated beats) made it a commercial failure. However, that album alone made him widely regarded by hip-hop heads as one of the most talented rap lyricists of all time. Unfortunately, after his debut album, he rarely fulfilled the potential that he showed in his early career. His second album, with the exception of a few standout tracks, "Rasassination" (1998) was a poor effort from such a talented artist. Unfortunately, due to difficulties with his record label and legal trouble, much of his material was not released until well after it was recorded. His most recent solo album "Van Gogh" was a sure improvement from his sophomore slump, but its failure to produce any one classic track had it fail to meet the impossibly high expectations that are now placed on Ras Kass. His most accomplished song has to be "Nature of the Threat", which appears on "Soul On Ice"; it is a detailed description of the history of racism and religion, particularly propagandist racism and religion and Ras spent 6 months researching and writing this 7+ minute track with no hook, a rarity in rap today. This dedication is unmatched by most of the so-called "legends" of rap... for example 2pac recorded "All Eyez On Me", his most commercially successful album, in 16 days. Despite the fact that Ras Kass seems to be beyond his prime, he is still much more refreshing than over 90% of the rap that you will hear on the radio these days. He is also an excellent freestyler. In response to the many rap fans who criticize Ras' choice of beats, I once read an interview which stated something along the lines of "To criticize the beats in Soul On Ice is like criticizing the cinematography in Clerks"... think about that.
Here is a Ras Kass quotable...
and most emcees aint prepared /
so what i say goes over ya head like pubic hairs /
Jose Contreras: I think Ras Kass is the best lyricist of all time.
Bruce Lee: Perhaps he is the most talented lyricist of all time, but he is rarely in top form. Therefore, it is ludicrous to compare him with the likes of Rakim, KRS-One and even our generation's Aesop Rock.