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.
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, and shortly afterward the MC announced his third album, Van Gogh.
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. 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.’” 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. Finally, Ras Kass exceded the $3,800 needed for the record in less than five days, with the project being released as a limited edition double CD and LP on July 20, 2011.