Musical Valentines: Chaka Mpeanaji & Qi Dada Ras

Riders Against the Storm play the Good Music Club show at Spiderhouse Ballroom, 1.8.15. Jenna Von Hofe / For American-Statesman
Chaka Mpeanaji and Qi Dada Ras of Riders Against the Storm. 2015 photo by Jenna Von Hofe for American-Statesman

With Valentine’s Day approaching, we asked a handful of Austin couples who play music together to share a few thoughts on how love and music intertwine in their relationships. We’ll post their responses here on Austin Music Source each day this week, and feature them in the Sunday print edition of the American-Statesman on Valentine’s Day.


Chaka and Qi Dada are partners in the hip-hop act Riders Against the Storm. Today is their ninth anniversary. On a recent trip to Jamaica they learned they share that anniversary with another prominent and powerful musical couple, Bob and Rita Marley. To celebrate, today they released a video for “RE: AL,” an Alabama Shakes remix that dropped earlier this year. The song will be available on their new mixtape “RE:Mixtape” which Austin360 will premiere on Friday morning. You can scoop a copy of the mixtape for yourself at the release party, Friday night at Sidewinder.

How they met:

Chaka: We met as community activists and artists in Providence, R.I. We were always crossing paths; also we were both actors locally, and shared stages together at a local theater called the Providence Black Repertory Company (no longer in existence). We started to come together to make music to enter an audition to open for (hip-hop act) Dead Prez in 2004. We wrote our first three songs for that audition.

Their special song(s):

“As” by Stevie Wonder was our wedding dance song. Anything by Stevie Wonder really. “Darling Nikki” or “Dirty Diana” for the nasty side. “Dance Tonight” by Lucy Pearl is a random sentimental favorite. Too many really.

A dream date or romantic night:

Our ideal romantic nights generally involve self-care. Massages, facials, lots of rest, fresh fruits, water, and just a lot of time to stop and appreciate each other/slow everything down. We went to Port Antonio in Jamaica this fall, and it was amazing!

About this whole Valentine’s Day thing:

We don’t really do Valentine’s Day. We celebrate our love all the time (in public and private). No need for a special day. Love is not a box of candy, flowers or some annual ritual. It starts with yourself. Love yourself. Make yourself feel good, and it will ripple out to the ones you care for most. It’s really the littlest things you do that let people know you care for and appreciate their presence in your life.

Author: Deborah Sengupta Stith

Deborah Sengupta Stith has been hanging out in dimly lit corners of the city soaking in the music scene for almost 20 years. Twitter: @deborific

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.