Ras Kass Entered At The Top Of His Game With This Diamond D Remix (Video)
Twenty years ago, Ras Kass debuted with Soul On Ice. In the two years prior, the Carson, California MC has appeared on the Street Fighter soundtrack (alongside Ahmad and Saafir), as well as Coolio’s smash album, Gangsta’s Paradise. However, the public had not gotten a true dose of the dense research, highly opinionated songwriting, and razor sharp delivery. Priority Records, the same vehicle that had introduced artists like Richie Rich, Brotha Lynch Hung, and WC would take on a different kind of lyricist in the mid-’90s.
Soul On Ice, deriving its name from an Eldridge Cleaver memoir, was a vehicle that put attention square on Razzy’s raps. At a time when Rap production was becoming a major talking-point and selling-point for albums, Ras Kass came in with his own squad. But, just as Outkast, Snoop Dogg, and Junior M.A.F.I.A. were doing, Ras Kass sought out a higher-profile remix to extend his title track single even further, with an alternate look:
In ’96, Diamond D was on a hot streak. The Bronx, New York veteran D.I.T.C. MC/producer had laced joints for The Fugees, Xzibit, and Sadat X—all that calendar year. He took one of the most grabbing beats he ever created, and placed it against Ras’ coldest, most deadpan punchlines (new verses from the LP version). “Soul On Ice (Remix)”—which was marketed as the regular version due to the video, was a newcomer’s fearless commentary on an industry acting up. Even as a rookie, Ras Kass wasn’t afraid to call out the fashions, the helplessness, and the posturing he saw in the field he loved. Diamond D’s heavy sampling and accents made the point all the more powerful.
The visual is especially ’90s: lots of set design, dark lighting, and of course a chase sequence. All the trimmings show that Ras Kass was onto something much more than set-tripping, bragging about his jewels, or counting the fictional bodies he caught. Au contraire—the MC was a microphone mercenary, executing on his own breakthrough (and very valuable) LP.
As Ras Kass continues to make some of the best albums of his career in the 2010s, it’s incredible to see just how potent he started in this video remix single.
#Bonus Beat: The original version, produced by Lamont “Bird” Holdby: