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Rapper Ras Kass was born John Austin in Watts, CA; a voracious reader throughout his youth, he adopted his stage name in honor of the African king Ras Rass. After releasing a pair of independent singles, Ras Kass emerged as one of the most highly regarded new rappers in some time, winning particular acclaim for his skills as a lyricist (in the space of six months, he twice earned Rap Pages magazine's Rhyme of the Month award as well as The Source's Hip Hop Quotable honor); his long-awaited debut LP, Soul on Ice, finally appeared on Priority Records in 1996. Rasassination followed two years later. ~ Jason Ankeny