Coast Contra Returns With Another Breathtaking Freestyle
After years of paying dues, the Coast Contra group made major inroads during 2022. The quartet of Ras Austin, Taj Austin, Eric Jamal, and Rioloz released their debut album, Apt. 505. That They promoted the self-released LP with a memorable performance on The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon and a song with Ciara. Throughout ’22, the crew dropped amazing freestyles—as they’ve done previously, including renditions of A Tribe Called Quest and Leaders Of The New School’s “Scenario” and Benny The Butcher and Black Thought’s “Crowns For Kings.” Their “Never Freestyle,” a performance to JID’s five-year-old instrumental, was in Ambrosia For Heads’ consideration among 2022’s best verses.
In 2023, the quartet worked with Masta Ace & Marco Polo on “Certified” (embedded below). Notably, Ras and Taj’s father, Ras Kass, had previously collaborated with Ace (their mother is R&B singer/songwriter Teedra Moses). And just like their dad, these MCs and their two band-mates display an incredible prowess for substance and swagger.
Coast Contra releases a new freestyle video, set to Q-Tip’s J Dilla-produced “Breathe And Stop.” Nearly a quarter century after the Amplified single, C.C. make the moment brand new. Eric Jamal kicks it off with a fast reminder that the quartet has taken six months off, and refuses to relinquish their pole position. The other three members create a routine that punctuates The Ummah beat with new energy. The Philadelphia native MC waves off comparisons to Tribe and L.O.N.S. and insists that his group is blazing an original trail. Then, he breaks into a physical routine where he mimics DJ cuts with his hands and adjusts the pitch of his voice to match the gestures in a manner that should make all beat-boxers proud. The remarkable performance that moves into something melodic as Jamal vents his frustrations of patience in a world of instant gratification.
Ras raps next, in a totally different flow. “Feeling gorgeous / This rigor mortis / Rap hard, I’m a Black star, came with an orbit / I’m sure of it / Where, can you find a n___a like me? / Not likely / Y’all might seem / Enticing / While biting / Like Tyson / On air,” he says, making the final word also sound like “ear.” Moments later, he touts that Rap’s OGs have given Coast Contra their blessing after witnessing performances like this.
Rio goes third, beginning his presentation in Spanish. The closed captioning offers the translation to show the potency of his words for non-speakers. Like Ras and Eric, he brings a musicality to his delivery along with incredible showmanship. At the mere suggestion of switching it up, Rioloz slides into English, keeping the timbre of his voice and slamming down bars. He asserts that there are zero gimmicks to Coast Contra.
Taj raps cleanup, and hits for power. He opens with a smooth flow in contrast to his mates, but then joins in the percussive style. His message ranges for strong commentary on belief systems in play to calling out powers that be for trying to break up his crew. “If a n___a had me at g_n point, I’d still stick up-STICK UP for the gang / ‘Cause I never felt triggered / That would be blasphemy, blast-for-me / Don’t harass me / No weapon formed can do me the harm of a casualty,” he spits in his wordplay demonstration.
Coast Contra continues to captivate with Hip-Hop on a high level.
#BonusBeat: Coast Contra, Masta Ace, and Marco Polo’s “Certified”: