Highly revered native Carson, California, self proclaimed Endangered Lyricist, Ras Kass, née John Austin IV, unleashed his acclaimed debut solo LP, Soul on Ice, back on October 1st 1996 via Priority Records. Now nearly twenty-three years removed, the Waterproof Emcee, who just unveiled his latest DJ Green Lantern helmed banger, “F.L.Y.,” an ode to Prince’s classic, “1999,” dropped its long-awaited follow up, Soul On Ice 2, on September 11th, featuring a hall of fame lineup of rappers / producers including; Diamond D, Pete Rock, Snoop Dogg, Immortal Technique, Justice League, Cee-Lo Green, and Everlast, to name a few.
We recently caught up with Ras Kass to talk new music, and much more. Read the full interview below.
Parlé Mag: Let’s hop right into the lead single: the Styles P & Lil Fame assisted “Guns n Roses” — Tell me about this particular composition; how did it even come to fruition?
Ras Kass: Honestly Vokab sent the track, I heard the beat and immediately thought M.O.P., (as well as) The LOX. Ras chuckles I’m very grateful that I sent it to Styles and Fame, and they immediately smoked the track! Blessed for real.
Parlé Mag: “Guns n Roses” comes courtesy of the long overdue, Soul On Ice 2, the official sequel to your now classic ‘96 solo debut of the same name — With so much anticipation already built up, what all exactly can be expected from this new project?
Ras Kass: It’s basically my Silver Anniversary; 25 years. For me, it was about taking inventory; what have I learned? How have I succeeded and looking at my failures. Analyzing myself to see if I’ve fundamentally changed, and comparing/contrasting my opinion about society – race, socio-economics, politics etcetera – and asking if the world has changed much in those 25 years. It really hasn’t. In many ways it’s regressed.
Parlé Mag: How then does Soul On Ice 2 either differ and/or compare to previous Ras Kass efforts?
Ras Kass: I think sonically this album is daring in all the right ways. I show my diversity in a way I’ve never quite been able to on any previous album.
Parlé Mag: For it, you teamed up with a Mello Music Group — What particular string of events actually led up to this union?
Ras Kass: I love Mello Music, since Apollo Brown did the Blasphemy LP. I’ve always wanted to make it my home-base. I know the owner Mike, and I know that he really loves The Culture. Easy fit.
Parlé Mag: In having said all of that, why has this particular record taken so long to finally come to fruition? What has been the biggest hold up?
Ras Kass: No big hold up. I just wasn’t ready writing-wise. There were other topics/feelings I was dealing with, and I knew what Soul On Ice 2 needed to be for me to genuinely name something that title.
Parlé Mag: Switching gears here, how has not only the industry itself, but even more-so you as an individual, either changed and/or evolved since your whole inception into music?
Ras Kass: I answer that on the album! Ras chuckles again
Parlé Mag: Longevity, what do you attribute yours to?
Ras Kass: I refuse to quit. I’m just as good or better than most of these ‘famous’ rappers, and I have something to prove. I deserve to mentioned with Jay-Z, Rakim, Nas, Eminem, J. Cole, Kendrick, etcetera.
Parlé Mag: On a more serious note, are you happy with the current state of Hip-Hop? And, even more specifically, where exactly do you “fit in” when it comes to today’s current/trending sound-scape?
Ras Kass: The music industry will always be corny. That’s (the) nature of anything going mainstream, so I don’t focus on that. I enjoy all the amazing music people are creating from their soul, and that inspires me to do the same.
Parlé Mag: Do you have any other outside/additional aspirations, maybe even completely away from music?
Ras Kass: I want to write scripts. I’d love to work as a writer on a late night TV show; like Seth Meyers or Colbert. I want to write for Marvel. And, I plan on publishing my first book soon.
Parlé Mag: To date, what has been your greatest career achievement(s), at least thus far anyway?
Ras Kass: Nothing in particular. It’s the memories I’ve had, and the interactions with people I was only a fan of who (I) got to meet; some I can say even became friends with. And some of those people (who) are no longer with us. R.I.P. Sean Price, Prodigy etcetera.
Parlé Mag: As for the immediate, what’s next for Ras Kass?
Ras Kass: SOI2. Then Jamo Gang LP; that’s me, J57 and El Gant from Brooklyn. Touring the world hopefully.
Parlé Mag: Lastly, whatever became of your offshoot collectives; The HRSMN [alongside Canibus, Killah Priest & Kurupt], as well as Golden State Warriors with Xzibit and Saafir? Do you ever foresee (a) reunion(s) happening with either respective crew?
Ras Kass: Saafir has a spinal injury, so his health is more important to me. We are all brothers and all communicate regularly. Many of us still do music together; just not as those name-brands.
Parlé Mag: Any “closing” thought(s) for our readers?
Ras Kass: Peace & Justice.
pics by V Shootz
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