John Austin IV,(born September 25, 1976 in Carson, California), is better known by his stage name Ras Kass. He released his debut album Soul on Ice in 1996. The album built up considerable hype through the release of several independent singles, including "Remain Anonymous" and "Won't Catch Me Runnin'." Soul on Ice saw little commercial success but was adored by the hip-hop underground, which appreciated both his sharp battle rhymes and his militant Afrocentricity. The latter also caused controversy due to the songs "Ordo Abchao" and "Nature of the Threat," which were tracks detailing the history of white-on-black racism, the latter lasting for well over seven minutes and likely his best-known song.
Some claimed that Ras was extreme to the point of racism against Caucasians. Ras Kass made a big push to make sure his second album Rasassination was commercially successful. As well as securing guest appearances from Xzibit and the Wu-Tang Clan's RZA, he received considerable assistance from superstar West Coast producer Dr. Dre, who rhymed on the lead single "Ghetto Fabulous," the video for which was supported by an extravagant video shot on a luxury yacht.
The album contained some of his most intellectual material to date ("Interview With A Vampire," a theological and spiritual exploration that featured Ras rhyming from the perspectives of God, himself, and the Devil) and occasionally addressed very personal subject matter ("It Is What It Is," concerning his relationship with his mother). Despite the single, his album didn't sell well. Ras Kass' third album Van Gogh was originally intended for release in 2001. However, the nearly-finished album was leaked onto the internet months before the release date.Make Ras Kass Playlist