Ras Kimono: The life and death of the Reggae legend
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Let’s take a look through the life and career of the iconic Reggae legend, Ras Kimono and his lasting legacy on the Reggae genre in Nigeria.
Ras Kimono was 60 years old, when he passed away on the afternoon of Sunday, June 10, 2018, after he slumped and was rushed to a hospital in Ikoyi, where he died
While many young ones and modern day Nigerian music lovers may not be too familiar with the Reggae icon, some of us still remember some of the tunes from our fathers’ stereo systems and the mention of the name Ras Kimono may even provoke some nostalgic childhood memories… and lovers of the genre called Reggae will eternally remember his contributions, personal struggles, legacy and the music he left behind.
Ras Kimono who was born Ukeleke Elumelu Onwubuya, in Delta State was already known in music circles as he was an ever-present face at bars and clubs performing on a weekly basis as a band member of The Jastiz that had other talented acts like Amos McRoy Jegg, Black Rice Osagie, and Majek Fashek.
The late singer later hit the scene and made a huge break alongside his Massive Dread Band after releasing his debut album, Under Pressure under the label, Premier Music in 1989. The album had breakout singles like Under Pressure, Natty Get Jail, Kill Apartheid, Gimme Likkle Sugar, songs that touched on police brutality and bad governance… with the massive hit single, Rhumba Style he became a household name.
The success of the album opened Ras Kimono to a global audience, as this was a time when Reggae music was the leading genre in the country and he was able to tour across Africa, Europe, and the United States, winning numerous awards along the way.
The Reggae icon later took a break from the scene, relocating to America for many years with his wife and two daughters and only returned in 2009, where he became a member of the Copyright Organisation of Nigeria (COSON) and performed at several events in an attempt to resuscitate his career. Barely a month ago, he marked his 37 years on stage and was planning to hold a concert later in the year with the inclusion of a big Jamaican Reggae artist.
Ras Kimono, was more than just a music artist, he became a voice for the people with his art which was greatly influenced by the hardship and social injustices he witnessed. For example, his song Under Pressure was reflective, addressing the situation within the polity under the military government of General Ibrahim Babangida.
Ras Kimono was also one of the very first Nigerian artistes that could properly infuse the Jamaican Patois in his delivery, standing him out from the crowd of other Reggae acts at the time.
His album, What’s Gwan was also a major success as he touched on subject matters like the legislation of marijuana, Apartheid, and colonialism, sealing his place as a force to reckon with on the African continent.
Ras Kimono despite being a Reggae icon was one who never smoked or did drugs, a vegetarian for 37 years and was known for his traditional dreadlocks which he’d carried years.
Throughout the span of his career, Ras Kimono earned reverence among industry colleagues for his passion, outspoken nature and indelible mark on the music scene.
Candlelights on… A Legend is gone!
Though Ras Kimono has passed away, he will remain in the memory of all those who he’s touched with his music and celebrated while his legacies will remain documented for generations yet unborn as he’d lived his life as a man on a mission and with music as his tool, he brought the message of hope and joy.
Good night, Ras Kimono