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Gone Too Soon: Nigerian Reggae Icon, Ras Kimono Passes On

Ras Kimono is dead, and we look back at his life and career, that left a 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 gave up the ghost.

While Ras Kimono may not be too familiar with followers of modern day Nigerian music, lovers of the genre called Reggae will eternally remember his contributions, personal struggles, legacy and the music he left behind.

Born Ukeleke Elumelu Onwubuya, Ras Kimono alongside his Massive Dread Band came into prominence following the release of his debut album, Under Pressure under the label, Premier Music in 1989.

Prior to this, Ras Kimono who was born 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 member of the band, The Jastiz that had other talented acts like Amos McRoy Jegg, Black Rice Osagie and Majek Fashek.

Ras Kimono is dead and we look back at his life and legacy (musicinafrica)

The album which had breakout singles like Under Pressure, Natty Get JailKill Apartheid, Gimme Likkle Sugar, a song that touched on police brutality and bad governance with the massive hit single, Rhumba Style were to however establish his presence on the scene and make him 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.


1 The legacies of Ras Kimono

The legacies of Ras Kimono
Ras Kimono ‘Under Pressure’ album cover (Shazam)

For Ras Kimono, he was more than just an artist as through his music, which was greatly influenced by the hardship and inequality he witnessed, he became a voice for the people.

While Rhumba Style was entertaining and one for the dance-floor, Under Pressure was his reflective state addressing 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.

Ras Kimono was to later release three other successful albums in We No Wan in 1989, What’s Gwan and Rub A Dub in 1990 and had concluded works on a 4 track EP late last year.

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 was an icon across the continent of Africa (Nigeriancelebritynetwork)

Ras Kimono despite being a Reggae icon was one who never smoked, a vegetarian for 27 years and was known for his traditional dreadlocks, which he carried for over 30 years.

The Reggae icon was to later take a break from the scene, relocating to America for many years with his wife and two daughters, only returning 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, the Reggae icon marked his 37 years on stage and he was planning to hold a concert later in the year with the inclusion of a big Jamaican Reggae artist.

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.

Ras Kimono has passed away but he will be remembered, celebrated and his legacies documented for generations unborn, because for 60 years he was a man who was on a mission and with music as his tool, he brought hope and joy with his message staying ever true till date.

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