Ras Kass
Ras Kass.png

Birth name

John Richard Austin II


September 26, 1973 (1973-09-26) (age 47)
Watts, California, U.S.


Carson, California, U.S.


Hip hop


Rapper, producer

Years active



Patchwerk Recordings (1994)
Maverick (1994)
Priority (1995-2007)
Capitol (1999-2007)
Re-Up Entertainment (2005-2007)
Cre8yte Corporation (2013-2014)
That's Hip Hop LLC (2016)

Associated acts

40 Glocc, Ahmad, Apollo Brown, Da Beatminerz, Bishop Lamont, Canibus, Coolio, Crooked I, Dr. Dre, The HRSMN, Killah Priest, Kurupt, Planet Asia, Saafir, Xzibit

John Richard Austin II (born September 26, 1973), better known by his stage name Ras Kass, is an American rapper from Carson, California. Ras Kass took his stage name from the legendary Ethiopian Emperor Yohannes IV, whose name was Ras Kassa Mircha before he was crowned as an emperor.

Austin earned a feature in the "Hip Hop Quotable" section of The Source magazine in 1994 with a verse from his independently-released single "Remain Anonymous", and he subsequently signed to Priority/EMI Records. He released his debut album, Soul on Ice, in 1996. It received good reviews, as did its 1998 follow-up Rasassination. Although his intended third album became shelved, several singles from the album received radio airplay. It was around this time that Austin became a member of the group The HRSMN alongside Kurupt, Killah Priest and Canibus.

Austin was incarcerated for nineteen months in 2004 and 2005 for a D.U.I. charge. In October 2007, Austin was released from his contract from Priority, but was incarcerated for violating his parole before being able to sign to another label. He was released at the end of May 2009. He used Kickstarter to fund the release of his album A.D.I.D.A.S. (All Day I Dream About Spittin), a collaborative album with DJ Rhettmatic, in 2011. He released his third album Barmageddon in 2013, which received a sequel titled Barmageddon 2.0 the following year. He collaborated with Apollo Brown for the 2014 release Blasphemy. In 2016, he released his fifth studio album, Intellectual Property: SOI2, a sequel to his debut album.

Early life[edit | edit source]

Austin was born on 26 September 1973 in Los Angeles, California. His father, John Austin, was a police officer. He grew up in Watts and Carson, California. From a young age, Austin was influenced by hip hop music and inspired by a variety of rappers, including Ice Cube, Rakim, Scarface and KRS-One.

In 1991, Austin made his debut appearance on the single "Trick or Treat" by Wild West Corral alongside B.O.X., Ganjah K and Torche.

Austin attended Phineas Banning High School in Wilmington, Los Angeles. One of his classmates and friends was future NFL player Bob Whitfield. In 1993, Whitfield founded the record label PatchWerk Recordings after financing studio time to record a demo for Austin.

Career[edit | edit source]

1994-1995: Early career[edit | edit source]

Austin released his debut single, "Remain AnonymouS", on PatchWerk in 1994. Austin's lyrical abilities created a large amount of hype for him, and one of his verses on the song was featured in The Source magazine's Hip Hop Quotable section. The following year, he appeared on the soundtrack for the movie Street Fighter, contributing to the song "Come Widdit" with Ahmad and Saafir. He also featured on Coolio's album Gangsta's Paradise and Key-Kool and DJ Rhettmatic's Kozmonautz.

1996-1998: Soul on Ice and Rasassination[edit | edit source]

In 1996, Austin signed to Priority Records. In October of that year, he released his debut studio album, Soul on Ice. Taking its name from the book by Black Panther Party member Eldridge Cleaver, Austin addressed racial relations and conscious subject matter in the same manner.

Personal life[edit | edit source]

In 1996, Austin had twin sons, Ras and Taj, with R&B singer Teedra Moses.

Discography[edit | edit source]

Studio albums[edit | edit source]

Collaborative albums[edit | edit source]

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