“When we moved here six years ago, we didn’t know anyone,” Jonathan Mahone, the artist better known as Chaka, said as he and his wife, Ghislaine a.k.a. Qi Dada, took the stage at Kenny Dorham’s Backyard on Saturday night. It was about 9:30 p.m. and they looked out on a diverse crowd that cheered wildly in response. A cluster of parents with young children found space in the throng near the front of the stage while other families stretched out on blankets and elders applauded from lawn chairs in the back.
With stellar sets from soul maven Tameca Jones, soon-to-break electro pop artist Mobley, massive hip-hop collective Sip Sip and RAS themselves, Riders Against the Storm Day was a musical bonanza, capped off with some of the best interstellar jazz this side of the galaxy from the Sun Ra Arkestra.
But it was also much more.
The triumphant success of RAS Day, is a testament to the powerful impact the hip-hop group has made on the city they decided to call home. Instead of creating a fan base, they decided to build a community. They created a space for Austin’s Afro-centric arts and wellness scenes to flourish. Go inside the scene on the ground with Reshma Kirpalani’s video.