Since the release of his 1996 debut Soul On Ice, Carson, CA rapper Ras Kass has remained one of the most underrated lyricists of all time. Weaving together complex rhyme schemes with straight forward and biting societal critiques, Ras’s style might not always be the most commercially viable, but his impact is undeniable. 23 years later, Ras has returned with a sequel that keeps the heart of his debut while also showing just how much the artist has progressed.
The inspiration for the title of both albums comes from the 1968 memoir and collection of essays by famous Black Panther leader Eldrige Cleaver. When I asked Ras why the title resonated with him so much, he told me that he valued Cleaver’s description of the duality of man in a nonlinear way and that he always hoped he could bring that same spirit to an album, even before he had ever released one. When I asked him what the phrase meant to him today he hit me with a Star Wars reference. “When I think of Soul on Ice, I think of Han Solo in carbonite. A frozen human being, still alive, but trapped.” He finds this metaphor for being a black man in America is just as applicable now as it was in 1996.
When I asked Ras what advice he would give himself if he could go back in time to before his debut, he said he would stress to his younger self the importance of financial independence. “You have to have your business together because you have to finance a revolution.