A fervent student of roots-reggae, Ras Kidus has never hesitated to learn new things. Considered a mainstay of the Bay Area reggae scene, he has recorded six albums and appeared in several independent films.
His latest venture is a fashion line featuring Afrocentric T-shirts projecting his latest songs and symbols illustrating his Rastafarian faith. They are produced by his company Bionic Roots.
Songs strong as a lion and Where is Jah Love have been released within the past 18 months. Ras Kidus, who hails from “lower St Andrew”, credits his wife Stephanie Slade with being the creative force behind Bionic Roots’ diverse catalog.
“She’s a broadcast designer, animator, music video editor, and her technology and art started in the 80s as a computer artist in Hollywood. The designs for my new store were created by designers and artists who are part of my circle of reggae creators. , including Marisa McFarlane, my daughter, who designed the A tree of love; Messenjah Selah, who designed the A love cat; Stephanie designed the strong as a lion, realistic lion, and electric lion; and Bobito from Africa, who designed the strong as a lion logo,” he said.
Where is Jah Love is co-produced by Slade and Makonnen Blake Hannah. It was recorded at the latter’s studio in Kingston where Ras Kidus went three years ago.
Ras Kidus oversees operations at Bionic Roots despite suffering a severe stroke in 2008. Three years later he was struck by a brain aneurysm which required delicate surgery to help him get back on track.
Like many young Jamaicans of the early 1970s, Ras Kidus was fascinated by roots-reggae and Rastafarian. He started recording in the middle of this decade, one of his first singles being song of exileproduced by Keith Hudson.
It was while touring Northern California as a drummer with Ras Michael and The Sons of Negus 40 years ago that he was drawn to the liberal nature of the Bay Area, epicenter of the Flower movement. Power of the 1960s.
In addition to forming the Roots Connection Band and recording albums and singles, he starred in films, such as Cop and a Badman and Rude Boy: The Jamaican Don.
The reggae scene in California has evolved since he moved there.
“In the early 80’s when I came to California the scene was booming. The Wailers put on a show at the Greek Theater in Berkeley. After that I played in every reggae hall and played behind other artists like Hugh Mundell. I collaborated with other Jamaican artists based in the Bay Area like Rankin Scroo, Majestic and Phone Bill Reggae Band,” Ras Kidus recalls. “At the time, clubs offering music reggae music included Keystone, Slims, Ashkenaz, The Caribe and many more. In 2006, Sweetfingers restaurant opened in the Bay Area and became a hub for reggae artists and Jamaican cuisine and culture. Clubs offering reggae have closed since the pandemic, but now some are reopening. »