BIO 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
From a young age, Ras Kass 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, and shortly afterward Ras announced his third album, Van Gogh.
Priority Issues, Van Gogh & Goldyn Child
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. 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 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, Ras 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. 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." In January 2012, Ras Kass left the group.
Incarceration, Institutionalized, Priority Release
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, generating a moderate buzz despite Capitol's alleged reluctance. 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. In October 2007, Kass finally succeeded in being released from his record contract. However, after rumors of a deal with Def Jam or G-Unit Records, 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.