Riders Against the Storm (RAS), a husband and wife duo based in Austin, Texas, are the very essence of the cultural phenomenon known as hip hop. Understanding that art and performance are keys to transforming the individual spirit, they have built institutions that aid in this mission, including Body Rock ATX, now running 10 years strong, and RAS Day music festival, a standout of the ATX live music scene for 6 years.  Within their music, and central to their purpose as creators, is an upholding of the culture's spiritual integrity, and a contagious celebration of the magic of creating something from ‘nothing.’

 

Chaka and Qi Dada arrived in Austin in December of 2009, and quickly began to distinguish themselves in the ‘Live Music Capital of the World.’  Prior to landing, they released the John Lennon Songwriting Contest award-winning, Speak the Truth, and within a month, the first Body Rock ATX ceremony was launched with co-founder, DJ Chorizo Funk.  In 2014,  they followed the  release of their self-titled EP with ‘Band of the Year’ and ‘Best Hip Hop’ crowns at the Austin Chronicle Music Awards. In addition to becoming the first hip hop group to win this award, they were among an elite cadre of groups (Spoon and Los Lonely Boys) to win the award 3 times, as they picked it up again consecutively in 2015 and 2016. 

 

August 29th, 2013 was officially designated as RAS Day by Mayor Lee Leffingwell. The next year, the inaugural RAS Day festival commenced.  From its inception, the festival featured diverse musical performances (with a focus on women of color musicians), a festival marketplace, and a full afternoon of health and wellness activations for attendees.  Dubbed by KUTX (Austin NPR) as ‘...the party, the vibration, the BIG celebration,’ the highly anticipated annual get-down culminated in 2019 with an array of electric performers, including a headlining set from Leikeli47.  For those seeking the magic of RAS on a more consistent basis, Body Rock ATX produces its own steam.  The rambunctious, raucous, and rejuvenating ceremony (originally held on the first Friday of every month) exists in the lineage of the dance parties that birthed hip hop culture.  Vice called the event a ‘regular hedonistic throwdown…[with] lots of ass shaking.’  In collaboration with DJ Chorizo Funk, Riders Against the Storm shaped the event to reflect the community's need for safe spaces that celebrate bodies, intersection, and uninhibited expression. 

 

As the duo became recognizable fixtures of the Austin music scene, their reputation expanded globally. Featured in Okayplayer, Billboard, Mashable, Afropunk, PBS and HGTV, Chaka and Qi Dada have toured throughout Europe, bringing their refreshing performance energy to audiences in need of what only RAS can provide. From national festivals to regional touring, the group has shared the stage with heavy hitters in the music industry, including: The APX, Black Pumas, BlackThought, Erykah Badu, George Clinton, DJ Jazzy Jeff, KRS-One, Michael Franti, Nas, Nitty Scott, Oshun, ?uestlove, The Revolution, Saul Williams, Talib Kweli, Wu-Tang Clan, and Yasiin Bey (Mos Def).

 

Riders Against the Storm are award-winning performance artists, musicians, keynotes, designers, influencers and curators whose contributions cannot be overstated.  While their music continues to take hold they are growing their legacy into tech and philanthropic platforms – setting their sights on surfacing indigenous frameworks to inform and shift current business paradigms.  Through partnerships with companies like Tito’s Vodka, Lyft, and others, Chaka and Qi Dada intend to create content, music, art, programs, events, and more that spurs social change and inspires awareness amongst their base – guiding us into an era where art and spirit lead our decision-making towards sustainability and wellness.

Photo by Gary Williams