RaSun (April 2009) | Interview By:
Hailing from San Francisco, California comes a captivating artist by the name as RaSun as
music runs through his blood, from his bloodline – with music roots planted from his family
tree. Not only is music a family tradition, but also a family business…
RaSun will be releasing his album Alone Again -- produced his brother, Don Juan C -- to critical
mass this summer and Dubcnn got the exclusive first listen to this masterpiece. RaSun, with his
label, Icon Music Group, has spent the last three years making this album, financing everything
themselves at the highest level. Two of the songs from the album have been leaked thus far;
“Get it On” with Beenie Man and “Can’t Get You Off My Mind” with The Jacka, which we also have
both available here.
Check out RaSun, with this Dubcnn exclusive interview and also, don’t forget to check out his Official MySpace
www.myspace.com/rasunmusicpage (One of the best pages
I have ever seen on MySpace.)
As ever, be sure to leave your feedback in our forums or email them to email@example.com.
RaSun – “Get it On” – Feat. Beenie Man – (Produced By: Don Juan C)
RaSun – “Can’t Get You Off My Mind” – Feat. The Jacka – (Produced By: Don Juan C)
Dubcnn: Let’s go to the beginning and to the root of your career… Share with
us the exquisite history of Strictly Roots…
RaSun: Strictly Roots was a group formed by our father Jahsun in 1979. The group was
a mix of Jamaican and American musicians, which helped pioneer reggae music in the United
States. Strictly Roots gave us the opportunity to develop into what we are today.
Dubcnn: You were a part of your father's band, Strictly Roots, at a young age but
didn't actually perform vocally until after his passing in 1998. What was it about your
father's passing that prompted you to step to the mic?
RaSun: Actually, I was on the mic as young as 12 years old and I was even featured
on the title track of our father’s 1992 release “Last Daze”. It wasn’t until I was 14
that I began playing drums for the band and even as the drummer; I would have a few verses
in the set. When our father passed, it was only natural for me to take over the group,
after all, Strictly Roots was the family business.
Dubcnn: Was there a lot of pressure for you to take over the lead vocal spot for Strictly Roots?
RaSun: Absolutely! It was the family business and it was how we made our living. We even
performed in San Francisco at the Great American Music Hall on the night of our father’s
funeral service, less than week after his passing.
Dubcnn: When you and Don Juan C decided to part ways with the group, did you experience
any animosity from the other members?
RaSun: I wouldn’t call it animosity. Don Juan and I were 20 years younger than the other
members of the group. I would say it was a sad time and it felt like the end of an era.
Dubcnn: You grew up around a lot of Jamaican influence and your father's band was
composed of mostly Jamaican purists -- but what was it about your surroundings that
led you more toward the hip-hop world?
RaSun: I’m from the San Francisco Bay area. Growing up in the 90’s, I was surrounded
by hip-hop. Hip-Hop is a part of my life; reggae is a part of my life. It’s who I am.
Dubcnn: What is the reason behind the name change from “RawSun” to “RaSun”?
RaSun: When I signed my first record deal, the label chose to spell it that way. I knew
I would eventually use my real name and now feels like the right time…
Dubcnn: You've passed on a lot of opportunities because, as you've said, you "didn't want
to put out anything we weren't proud of"—would you have sacrificed your entire career if you
had never ran across the right opportunity, or do you think you would've gone back to one of
those same offers and taken it?
RaSun: I would never go back. So the answer would be, yes - - I would [still] sacrifice
my career, if that’s what it came down to. Music is everything to me and if I don’t like the
music I’m making, I wouldn’t want anybody to hear it… no matter how much money its worth.
Dubcnn: Share with the readers your history with Digital Underground?
RaSun: I had the honor to perform with Digital Underground and record with both Shock G
and Money B.
Dubcnn: You have played with some of the best musicians in the world - - would you consider
Shock G one of the greatest?
RaSun: Absolutely, Shock G is an incredible talent. Anybody who has ever worked with
him knows that.
Dubcnn: So, do any recordings of you and Shock G actually exist?
RaSun: Yes… Shock G and I have a song together titled “Life Aint Easy” and you can find
it on my first album, “Rated R”
Dubcnn: How did you align yourself with Icon Music Group?
RaSun: Icon Music group is a label that we formed, by bringing together some of the most
talented, ambitious and knowledgeable people we’ve had the opportunity to work with in the industry.
Dubcnn: So you are part owner in Icon Music Group?
RaSun: Yes, I am… Don Juan C and I, both feel like we are at that point in our careers
where we needed to be a part of everything that goes on with our company. We have good people
with us that make things happen, but no question, this album [Alone Again] and everything
that surrounds it is our vision and Icon Music Group was built to support that
Dubcnn: What is the reason you decided to call your album, “Alone Again”
RaSun: It represents where I’m at in my life right now, in many ways.
Dubcnn: How did you link up with The Jacka - - who has cameos on two songs
“Can’t get you off my mind” and “Tried My Best”
RaSun: We hooked up while working on an album that we are producing for Bridge
the Gap Entertainment. The album features, Myself, The Jacka, Fed Ex, San Quinn,
C-bo and more.
Dubcnn: Can you tell us more about the project that you are doing with Bridge the Gap Entertainment?
RaSun: I can tell you that it’s a project we are very excited about, songs like
“American Way” featuring myself San Quinn and the Jacka or “Put It All Behind Me”
Featuring Me, C Bo, The Jacka and Fed X are incredible - - and we are definitely bringing
something new to the game, with this project, I’m sure everyone will agree with that.
Dubcnn: The song “Get It On“, from Alone Again with Beenie Man leaked… What was your
experience like working with Beenie Man?
RaSun: Beenie Man is the king of dance hall, so working with him was an honor to say
the least. He brought us to Kingston, Jamaica to record the song in his studio and we wrote
the song together while we were there. The result is a true collaboration and not a feature.
Dubcnn: How did you even hook up with Beenie Man to begin with?
RaSun: We were working on our album in Atlanta and we were booked to do a show
together at Club Dreams. The bill for the Atlanta show was Bennie Man, Too Short
and Myself. Our Manager Hog has been friends with Beenie Man for years and felt
like Bennie Man would like our sound. He was right, Bennie Man listened to a couple
of songs and asked us to come to Jamaica to record a song together. Two days later,
we were in Kingston recording in Bennie Mans studio 357. He wanted us to come so soon,
to make sure he would be on our new album “Alone Again.” We were just about to start
mixing when Bennie Man wanted us to work together in time to be on the album - - and
it worked out perfect. You’ll hear Beenie Man and I together again soon too.
Dubcnn: Tell us about the group of musicians you have with you now?
RaSun: The most amazing musicians I’ve ever known. Starting with my brother Don Juan C
, who produced the entire album, is also the music director/keyboard player. Steve Wyreman
on guitar, who’s credits include Keyshia Cole and Lauryn Hill to name a few. Qubeck Jackson
on drums, who’s also played for DJ Quik and The Coup. Marcus Phillips on bass, who’s toured
with Mary Mary and Keyshia Cole. Those are the core members of our band.
Dubcnn: Wow!!! How did you assemble such an amazing group of musicians for your live band?
RaSun: The musicians have been with us for years… We were working together long before
we all starting having so much success, and it just always felt like the right thing. I
don’t like track shows, it’s not who we are… We are a group of real musicians, myself included
as I played drums for many years and I can’t do what I do best, without the best doing their
thing with me. When you get a chance to see us in concert, you’ll see we are meant to be together
and you can tell we have been working together for years…
Dubcnn: As not only activists and artists of the culture, but fans as well, who would you
say that your biggest influences are, not only from a musical standpoint, but from a
performance aspect as well?
RaSun: First, I would say my father is my greatest influence in all aspects of my life.
I would also have to mention dancehall legend, Nicodemus who I played drums for at a young
age. I’m influenced by all music and no music at the same time.
Dubcnn: What do you think of the Reggae that's being produced here in America?
RaSun: Honestly, I feel like no one is bringing anything new to the table. American Reggae
artists need to understand that certain things have been done before. They have to find a way
to be themselves and stop trying to sound like their favorite Jamaican Reggae artist.
Dubcnn: So your brother Don Juan Cartel handled the majority of the production on “Alone Again”
RaSun: Yes, Don Juan did all the production on the album.
Dubcnn: Can you tell us a little bit about your collaborative process with your brother in the studio?
RaSun: A lot of long hours, good weed, Heineken and Red bulls
Dubcnn: Tell us about some of the other projects, artists and productions, which you and
Don Juan C have worked on together?
RaSun: We worked on an album titled “Independence Day” by Fiji. We worked on the album
by O.A..R. “Stories Of A Stranger.” We’ve worked on a number of Hawaiian albums such as,
“Coconut Island” and “Vision All Stars” to name a few. We have also worked on albums for
Mac Mall , Ray Luv, Ant D.o.g and of course, the Strictly Roots albums “Last Daze” ,
“Generation” and our very first independent solo album, “Rated R.”
Dubcnn: Do you have an estimate date for when people will be able to get Alone Again?
RaSun: The album is finished, so it’s gonna be out soon. We are leaking some songs off
the album now and it will be out by this summer