(RAS) Riders Against the Storm
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(RAS) Riders Against the Storm

Providence, Rhode Island, United States | SELF

Providence, Rhode Island, United States | SELF
Band Hip Hop R&B

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"ARTIST SPOTLIGHT"

Found out about Raiders Against The Storm (RAS) yesterday, through twitter as they showed us a lot of love. Decided to check their website. And was overwhelmed by the talent and positive vibes that this talented duo transmit in their music and videos...
- THEWORDISBOND BLOG


"SPEAK THE TRUTH - RAS CD REVIEW"

Austinites by way of Providence, R.I., transplants Riders Against the Storm are brimming with positive vibrations. The husband-and-wife team of Jbro and Tiger Lily declare themselves hip-hop healers, a maxim that might ring corny if they weren't certifiably nice on the mic. Opening salvo "Notebook" is a stripped-down cipher session reminiscent of Freestyle Fellowship as the two inner-city griots spit autobiographical while the back-in-the-day musing of "Reminisce" name drops influences from C.L. Smooth to A Tribe Called Quest. RAS' BDP-styled edutainment is more the Coup than Dead Prez; they've got a lyrical agenda but aren't afraid to have fun while shining light on the prison industry complex in school yard skits or chanting down Babylon on the Rasta-tinged "Yamentals." Despite arriving only seven months ago, Speak the Truth catapults Riders Against the Storm into the upper echelon of the local hip-hop hierarchy. - AUSTIN CHRONICLE


"Riders Against the Storm makes waves in rap scene"

By Chad Swiatecki | Monday, June 7, 2010, 03:44 PM

It looks like they’re fighting. Or at least engaged in a confrontation marked by heightened passion.

Not with each other, mind you. These two couldn’t be more together.

Jonathan Mahone is on the right, microphone in his left hand while he crouches and jabs the air with his right, inches away from his wife, Ghislaine Jean-Mahone, who’s similarly crouched and antagonized while her husband asks atop a skittering drum beat, “Is it Katrina or Bush that brought waste to New Orleans? Is it we that gotta starve so the rich can overeat?”

The song is “Is It?” The scene is the rapidly filling outdoor stage area at Mohawk last Friday , where an hour later Chicago rapper Kid Sister knocked out the crowd that Austin rap newcomers Riders Against the Storm softened up with a mix of empowered and enlightened rhymes that’s getting the pair noticed all over town.

How noticed? Over Memorial Day weekend they opened for backpacker icon (and Hieroglyphics alum) Aceyalone at Chupacabra. On Wednesday they’ll headline the Stubb’s afterparty for Nas and Damian Marley. And later this month, they’ll take the stage at Emo’s ahead of Wu-Tang Clan veteran Raekwon.

All this in not quite seven months since relocating to Austin, after exhausting all creative opportunities in never-been-an-anything-hotbed Providence, R.I.

“People see us and say that we’re inspiring and refreshing, and they tell us that we’re really needed here,” says Mahone, rap name of Jbro. “They see our drive and how much we believe in what we’re putting out there and they just want to help, and we love that.”

The pair’s beginnings are rooted in community organizing and educational nonprofit work in Providence, where Pittsburgh native Mahone stayed after graduating from Brown University and Jean-Mahone (rap name Tiger Lily) settled after growing up in Brooklyn. Activism and assorted social justice projects provided the foundation for their marriage as well as their music, which blends the playfulness of Pharcyde or Digable Planets with the social awareness of Dead Prez and the Fugees.

That’s the mix all over the pair’s sophomore album “Speak the Truth,” stressing healing and upliftment without chastising and finger-pointing.

“We want to emphasize ourselves as hip-hop healers, because we look at the ceremony of being an MC as being someone who facilitates an energy with the other performers and with the crowd,” Jean-Mahone says. “You get up there and do it right and everyone is moving together as one organism regardless of culture, race, gender or whatever they’re bringing in with them.”

Though still relative newbies to Austin, the couple have quickly made themselves at home. Their first months saw them working with a slew of local nonprofits and arts organizations before the realization that making headway with their music meant scaling back at least a little bit.

“We moved here to make the most of our art, and so we had to honor that commitment to ourselves even though we still stay involved with different groups as much as we can,” Mahone says. “I want to be known as a great artist, not just a great hip-hop artist. I want to be able to play with the best artists that are coming through Austin, so if that’s Willie Nelson or whoever, I want to be able to be up on stage with them.”
- AUSTIN AMERICAN STATESMAN


"Local hip-hop duo makes final round in nationwide contest"

BY RICK MASSIMO

Journal Pop Music Writer

The Providence hip-hop duo Riders Against the Storm has advanced to the final round of the John Lennon Songwriting Contest. The husband-and-wife duo — Jon Mahone and Ghislaine “Tiger Lily” Jean-Mahone — are one of 12 Lennon Award winners nationwide in a variety of musical genres. Their award was determined by online voting on May 1, and in July a panel of judges will award one of the 12 groups a prize package worth $20,000.



Riders Against the Storm formed in 2004, Mahone says; the couple got together through their work with Providence schoolchildren. Mahone is a former Providence high school teacher, and has run several after-school arts programs.



Their song for the Lennon contest, “Speak the Truth,” was recorded in 2007, Mahone says, and was inspired by a trip to see the Denzel Washington movie The Great Debaters with a debate team he was coaching. He was inspired to write the hook that night, and they already had the beat by producer Jacob Belony — based on a sample of the Jackson Sisters ’70s single “I Believe in Miracles.”



As such, the song — which you can hear at the contest site www.jlsc.com or at the Riders’ MySpace page at http://www.myspace.com/rasridersagainstthestorm— is an, organic, soulful groove with an inspiring message.



That’s also the thrust of the Riders’ live show, which Mahone says they’ll take “wherever we can” — recent venues have included Lupo’s (opening for KRS-One), the Providence Black Rep and AS220. And they’re currently finishing up a stand at Rites and Reason Theatre, in Providence, where they’re doing a show of hip-hop and spoken-word pieces called Saviour Self, which Mahone describes as a look at their history as a duo and “our struggles to find ourselves. You spend a lot of time listening to other people, maybe to voices in your head that aren’t telling you the truth, and trying to find that center so you can be who you’re supposed to be.”


They’re also working on a new disc to succeed 2005’s Everybody Dig, and have some new singles on their MySpace page. Saviour Self closes today at Rites and Reason Theatre, 155 Angell St., Providence, at 11 a.m. The suggested donation for admission is $10; call (401) 863-3558.

http://www.projo.com/music/content/lb-riders_05-23-09_3QEEP2I_v6.224001b.html

- Providence Journal


"RAS - 'WHAT'S HOT' on OURSTAGE.COM"

http://blog.ourstage.com/2009/11/06/porno-for-pyros/

According to their bio, RAS has a helluva mission on their shoulders: to “fight against whatever mainstream media and culture offers the masses today …uplift and create spaces where atrocities against people of the African diaspora can begin to heal … through remembering the past, exposing lies, expressing emotion and resisting self-hatred.” Not a job for the faint at heart. Luckily, the husband and wife hip-hop team has a whole lotta heart, and some mighty voices to back it up.

Winners of the 2008 Lennon Songwriting Award for hip-hop, RAS (Riders Against the Storm) is comprised of Rhode Island MCs Tiger Lily and JBro. Together, the duo vacillates between confessions of self-consciousness and chest-thumping demonstrations of verbal prowess. In “Never Alone,” JBro likens himself to Bobby Brown, “stressing every little step,” against a throbbing bass line and fluttering keys. Though lyrically anxious, the melody is self-assured. But its songs like “Ready or Not” that really show RAS at the peak of their potency. A remake of the Fugees hit, the track brings the drama with sweeping strings, reiterating percussion and the electronic hiss of synths as Tiger Lily and JBro chant, “RAS is right on target / First in the flame with the power to spark it.” It’s an explosive mantra for a duo that’s determined to burn down the house.
- OURSTAGE.COM


"Local Music Group Takes You on an uplifting Ride on their First CD"

For those of you who haven’t had a chance to listen to the CD yet, there are two ways to listen to “Everybody Dig”, the new full length album from RI-based hip hop-soul group, Riders Against the Storm. One way of listening is by simply unwrapping and opening the case, removing the disk, and inserting it into a player with no regard to the jacket and its details. The other way to enjoy it occurs after peeking at the jacket; you will listen to it, and unless you are in the car, you will clutch the case the entire time as you will be drawn to periodically glancing inside at the details in disbelief.

Everybody Dig is an astonishingly mature freshman album by Riders Against the Storm—the then two person team of Ghislaine Jean and Jonathan Mahone—with production assistance exclusively from multitalented musician Abdul Mateen and highly active RI- to NY-based producer Moon. It is a fourteen-track album that blends originally written hip hop, poetry and comedy with instrumentals dominated by the bass and a variety of percussion. It is also a multifaceted ode to righteousness, a healing guide for those ever afflicted by self-hatred, and a direct attack on the racist and misogynistic establishment that purges Black people of self-love.

How do such strong messages emerge on an album that does not date back to the 1970’s? Consider what you first hear upon pressing play: an adult male voice teaching a group of youth performance techniques as he invites them to participate on the album by chanting a chorus of Justice…Freedom. The third or fourth chant in and the album begins full force with instrumentals, melody, etc.; yet the simple humanity and tenderness of the brief “Intro” will remain on your brain as you listen.

These sometimes original, sometimes borrowed speaking moments interwoven throughout the CD provide listeners with a glimpse at the spiritual souls and social politics espoused by Jean and Mahone. Take “Hair Piece”, a poem written by Jean with a musical dénouement at the end: it is a chronology and biography of the pride and shame, abuse and embrace, and changing politics of Black women and hair. But with references to the classic “Coming to America” and to a string of beauty products that every black woman has used, bought, or actively rejected, it avoids being over-preachy, artistically untouchable, or belligerently militant. Instead, if you do not already know Jean, the moments of passion, despair, and comedy reveal a woman that anyone could truly sit with to seriously yet with familiarity discuss this common, sometimes mini sometimes large crisis.

With so much original material—every track was written, performed, and when needed, accompanied by Mahone and Jean—it nonetheless has to be noted that even the borrowed material demonstrate their deep-rooted devotion and dedication to heritage. Track number 6 for instance, “Mama Said” includes an interlude sampled from Afrika Bambaataa. Bambaataa is one of the godfathers of hip hop, a teacher and really a spiritual and cultural leader of a multi-decade movement in hip hop that repeatedly retransformed the sound and celebrated the African roots inherently borne to hip hop.

Unbreakable and essential roots to Africa was also a major theme of Marcus Garvey, the Jamaican, Pan-African leader who, on a platform that included repatriation to Africa, self-improvement, and Black pride through his Universal Negro Improvement Association, is credited with the largest mass movement of Black people in American History. Commonly referenced and revered in reggae music—presumptively also because Garvey was Jamaican—Jean and Mahone do not miss an opportunity to introduce or reacquaint listeners to the words of this important, historical Black leader.

Yet focus not too heavily on the content and message lest we forget about the music. As I began suggesting before, the sound and production quality of the CD is impeccable. No need to worry, then about a drop in the vocals, overpowering instrumentals, or abrupt song ends.

And for those of us who can not get enough of the live music background—commonly associated with hip hop group The Roots—or those like my mother who often cannot get beyond the common-to-hip hop loop—playing the same few bars repeated over and over behind sometimes lively sometimes overly mellow rhyming—Riders’ sound is live, seemingly originating from a diverse stock of instruments, not a keyboard, computer, or manipulated old record. On song number 5, you hear percussion that sounds similar to the tympanis or specifically tuned bass drum, song number 6 is accompanied beautifully by a flute, and on song number 10, present is what sounds like water dripping, which could be a sound effect, but, knowing the integrity of the musicians, is probably an exotic percussion instrument.

Significant to those instrumentals and the vocals on this CD, as opposed to that of many other local hip hop albums—and why soul and funk are likely to be common adjectives when describing it—is the presence of melody, harmony, and, well, good sounds. The water droplet sounds on number 10 are not part of an abstract, where is the head bobbing rhythm epidemic taking over non-commercial hip hop. It is something added for musical diversity by experienced musicians.

And the vocals? Mahone is generally smooth and laid back with a style reminiscent of the Camp Lo guys, Blackaliscious fellows, or Digable Planet dudes—simple but ample note range, and slower pace. Other times he is passionate and persistent, sounding a bit like a Talib Kweli or Common when they are making important points. Yet it is Jean who will invariably make you feel it in the pitt of your stomach and effortlessly in your diaphragm.

An actress and performer as well as singer, Jean has doubtlessly mastered the art of intonation and manipulation by her voice, a skill we see in the black nationalist meets ghetto fabulous comedic skit “Willis and Tameka” and the Afro-centric empowered lesson—or review depending on whose listening—“Colors have meaning” spoken interlude. Nevertheless, this vocal chameleon prowess she displays is not limited to her speech.

Her emceeing style sprinkled throughout is infectious and at times rapid and staccato similar to the well-celebrated Busta Rhymes, and at other times languid and deliberate like Ursula Rucker, but it is really when she is singing that the listener is likely to be most taken. Jean moves effortlessly from a kind of reflective yet assertive style similar to Lauryn Hill’s—on the track “Mama Said”—to the alternating soft to emotionally emphatic you might hear on a Dionne Farris track (pick up the “Love Jones” soundtrack to see what I mean). There are even tracks or moments on some of the tracks when she plays with notes, pitch and delivery a little how trip hop performer Portishead might or similar to how older R&B voices might be altered or updated for a hip hop refrain or loop a la Kanye West. Mostly, though, Jean’s vocals are clear, flawless, and, quite frankly, addictive and infectious.

I could go on and on telling you about this CD, because let’s face it: one, I really love Riders’ take on hip hop, R&B, and message content; two, I know Mahone and Jean, and they are both these lovely people who fuse rare intelligence, spiritual virtue, and bold talent with social altruism and a prolific sense of community; and three, I had hoped to finish writing this review two weeks ago. You really simply must buy it yourself, though, to support this confluence of rare talent, globally appreciable rhythms and genuinely empowering lyrics.

- The Providence American


Discography

SPEAK THE TRUTH, 2010
EVERYBODY DIG, 2005

Photos

Bio

2008 Lennon Award-winners, Riders Against the Storm (RAS) come bringing greetings of divine love and power. After several years of performing as local (Providence, RI) solo artists on the theatrical and performance stage, Tiger Lily (Ghislaine Jean) and Jbro (Jonathan Mahone) came together in the summer of 2003 to create music.

Since their first performance (opening for dead prez in Providence, RI), the duo has been working hard to manifest music and poetry that reflects a spirit of resistance to the prevalent and dominant "storm" of music and art that exist today. Riding Against the Storm means to break free or fight against whatever mainstream media and culture offers the masses today. More than just making music, Jbro and Tiger Lily, are consciously reaching out for hearts and minds through their triumphant lyrics and passionate reggae/latin/hip hop-influenced rhythms.

RAS' musical influences range from Ella Fitzgerald to The Fugees (with whom they are compared on occasion) - at times rocking as hard as The Furious Five at a South Bronx Block Party, while at others, smoothing things down to an easy soulful groove reminiscent of artists that make up the current neo-soul music scene. In fact, it is the soul's desire for peace and liberation that is at the center of their premiere, EVERYBODY DIG (2005).

Their most recent release, SPEAK THE TRUTH (2010), is a reflection of the duo's growth and development since their first release. Featuring an array of producers, sounds, and textures, their sophomore album takes RAS to a new level.