Ras Ceylon Brings a Fire


He has dreadlocks. He’s a Rasta. He just came back from recording in Jamaica. He comes straight outta Oakland with a home base in So Cal. And he’s got Sri Lankan blood pumping through his veins. I’ve interviewed Ras Ceylon before here at Sepia Mutiny, and lucky for you, Ras Ceylon just dropped a mixtape street album last week. Titled Gideon.Force Vol.1 (named after Haile Selassie’s Ethiopian army), the album is fantastic anthology of Ras Ceylon’s musical work over the past few years.

Drawing on his Sri Lankan roots and Rastafarian faith, Ras Ceylon brings a unique sound intertwining a revolutionary message with head nodding beats. Gideon.Force Vol.1 is a mixtape, compiling collaborations with various emcees and producers from Oakland to L.A. to New York to Jamaica. The album features major artists such as Munga Honorable (Jamaica), Shabaam Sahdeeq (NYC), Norris Man (Jamaica) and includes original remixes of collaborations with stic.man of Dead Prez and Tragedy Khadafi (NYC). True to mixtape nature, laced throughout the album are clips of Davey D. of Hard Knock Radio interviewing Ras Ceylon about his journey.[rasceylonblog]

Today’s #MusicMonday is the whole album – but if you have to make me choose one song off of this mixtape, it’d have to be The ?. Though you can order a pressed copy of his album online at Ras Ceylon’s website, if you go to his bandcamp you can download the entire album right now for “Pay What You Want.” Listen to it all below, but feel free to be generous and download the whole ting.

His tracks show a clear connection to his musical inspirations – Public Enemy and Bob Marley. The track 4 Aiyana Jones hits the listener hard as a revolutionary anthem with lyrics on the epidemic of senseless police brutality while his first single Aluta Continua (Struggle Goes On) has a strong island feel and dancehall undertones. Whether head bouncing beats to spreading the message of substance abuse with the song The Question or the spiritually produced song Jah Livez spreading the message of God living in the hearts of all, Ras Ceylon’s lyrics calls for repeat listens. [rasceylonblog] Here in Oakland where the crime against Oscar Grant is still fresh, the song 4 Aiyana Jones has turned somewhat anthemic. Ras Ceylon is an activist through and through – and though he may make his music, he does his part to make sure he’s on the frontline mentoring local at-risk youth and speaking out in issues like police brutality or education access that affect youth in Oakland. Peep the video below – you just may learn something.

And of course, to get more information on Ras Ceylon – visit his website here, follow his blog here, his facebook here and his twitter at @RasCeylon here. Jah bless.


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About Taz

Taz is an activist, organizer and writer based in California. She is the founder of South Asian American Voting Youth (SAAVY), curates MutinousMindState.tumblr.com and blogs at TazzyStar.blogspot.com. Follow her at twitter.com/tazzystar

4 thoughts on “Ras Ceylon Brings a Fire

  1. Music is ok. But really, only Jamaicans who have the accent and patois down can do reggae properly.

    I see this as a Desi American misappropriating Jamaican culture and music.

  2. ^^^^ Ummm 1st of all there are reggae artists (matisyahu, apache indian etc) and people that practice rastafarianism all over the world, neither the music or religion is strictly jamaican!! So how is Ras “misappropriating jamaican culture” when he raps in an american accent almost the whole time on this album save for a few affectations here and there? I dont hear him trying to do anything strictly jamaican his music is as much hiphop as reggae, also you can learn more about whats goin on in oakland from listening to his songs more than jamaica! If the above line of thinking is correct than desi’s doing anything outside of south asian culture is misappropriating, thats a limited view in my opinion! Dont even get me started about the contributions the saddhus made to the formation of rastafarianism i.e. dreadlocks, ganja etc but i will save that for another day! keepin rockin ras ceylon! Thanks for the post Taz

  3. ” If the above line of thinking is correct than desi’s doing anything outside of south asian culture is misappropriating, thats a limited view in my opinion!”

    That opinion does not reflect many of the opinions expressed by commenters and even bloggers of this blog.

    Blog after blog, comment after comment bemoan “cultural appropriation” – especially if it is done by a non-Desi who is doing something Desi.

    One NRI even got offended that when she was on a volunteer/study abroad mission in Rajasthan, her White Female collegues got excited about shopping for salwar-kameez, bindis and bangels, while she, an American Desi, was happy to continue wearing jeans.

  4. At first I thought it was going to be reggae but clearly he is rapping; as a rapper eh…. he’s just ok. Just because he takes on rastafarianism should not automatically mean that we should support him. I lost interest in the first few secs into his tracks and overall the production is boring. So not my cup of chai. I’ve heard better as far as desi-rappers go.

  5. Thoroughly enjoyed his work with Humble the Poet and Mandeep Sethi and from the first few listen this album sounds awesome. I am ordering my copy now! I support good new artists!