Chapel Hill, NC
Hailing from a quiet town in northwestern Connecticut, Ras J grew up like a lot of kids in the seventies, listening to classic rock in a small town. He played in local garage bands and even served as a dj at his tiny high school radio station. However, he did have a Jamaican family living across the street from him and was exposed to reggae and Jamaican culture at a very young age. Later, as an exchange student to Manchester, England, he attended some of the legendary parties at the Hacienda, his first exposure to dj culture. While still in college, he visited NYC and dj parties at The Tunnel and Limelight, as well as reggae festivals featuring artists such as Aswad, UB40, Steel Pulse and Shinehead. Eventually making his debut as ‘DJ Ras J’ on WECS in 1989, his groundbreaking radio show ‘Ewadjo’ included roots reggae, psychedelic rock, hip hop, in-studio dub mixes and a live freestyle session, one of the first of its kind in the country. He also worked as a music writer in college for The Register Citizen and Campus Lantern, covering artists such as Fela Kuti, KRS-ONE, Elvis Costello and Ringo Starr. His first paid gig as DJ Ras J was opening for the Wailers in 1992 in Willimantic, CT. Later that year he moved to NYC for an internship at the legendary Cold Chillin’ Records, working on marketing and college radio promotions for Kool G. Rap, Biz Markie, Roxanne Shante and Big Daddy Kane.
Over the next few years, he worked for a variety of major labels, promoting such artists as Buju Banton, Red Fox, Born Jamericans, Tony Rebel, Damian Marley and the Wu Tang Clan. Through these experiences he met Afika Bambaataa, Kool DJ Red Alert, Kool Herc, Qbert, Bobby Konders, DJ Q-Bert, Soulslinger, Dara, Funkmaster Flex and many other influential djs. Alongside promoter Tommy B & Ax from the Beatnuts crew, Ras J promoted the 'Bambu Nation' party series at the Anarchy Cafe and Club 205, featuring a young DJ Mighty Mi and also worked briefly for legendary NYC promoter Matt de Matt. On the weekends, he worked part time as a roadie for Wild Apache Productions and dancehall icon Super Cat. His travels eventually brought him to Chapel Hill in 1997, where he worked in commercial radio for SFX Broadcasting (G105, WRDU), and later as the first Marketing Director for Redeye Distribution and Yep Roc Records. His last major project for Redeye was setting up retail promotions for John Mayer's 'Room for Squares' album, before leaving to begin a new career in public television.
Since 1989, he has continued to increase his vintage reggae vinyl collection and in early 2002 was offered an opening slot for Buju Banton at the Cat’s Cradle in Carrboro, NC. With a warm reception to his classic roots, rocksteady & early dancehall selections, he went on to become a Cat's Cradle regular, opening for Steel Pulse, the Easy Star All-Stars, John Brown's Body, the Wailers, The Budos Band and many more. In addition to high profile gigs opening for Capleton and Romain Virgo at the Lincoln Theatre in Raleigh, Ras J also opened for Culture and the Meditations and headlined the Carrboro Reggae Festival in 2013. DJ Ras J continues to bring his positive message of peace and unity to clubs and music festivals across the Southeast. Since 2008 he has hosted the longest running vinyl party in North Carolina, a 100% vinyl monthly roots reggae residency called ‘Simmer Down.’ You can also catch him at the Shakori Vinyl Lounge at their bi-annual festivals in central North Carolina. Bless up!
"So powerful is the light of unity that it can illuminate the entire universe."
DJ Ras J’s tracks