We are proud to premiere “Same” by Riders Against the Storm, a jubilant hip-hop take on the Talking Heads song “Once in a Lifetime.” The song features Joseph Gardner from Flavor Raid singing David Byrne’s hook while Chaka and Qi Dada, the husband/wife duo from RAS, take turns dropping sly wit and wisdom. They co-produced the song with Austin heavyweight Adrian Quesada, and co-directed the hilarious video with Jacob Weber.
We caught up with Chaka and Qi Dada from RAS to talk about the song, the video and the official RAS Day showcase that they’re hosting during the South by Southwest Music Festival.
Austin360: What was it about the song “Once in a Lifetime” that spoke to you?
Chaka: Since I was a child, I had a connection with this song and “Burning Down the House.” I remember watching the videos on MTV and being mesmerized. There was just something to the vibe. When I got to college age, I found out he went to Rhode Island School of Design, right down the hill from where I studied (Brown University). I just always felt connected to David Byrne’s work in a tangible/visceral way. Later, after college, finding out his work has roots and influence grounded in African spiritual traditions just plain sealed the deal. I feel this song is a hip hop homage to his initial offering. We are building on his legacy here.
Qi Dada: The song is minimal, awkward and jarring. We totally see how he borrowed from indigenous ideas of trances because of the tonality, repetition and spaciness of it. Talking Heads did so without straight hi-jacking anyone’s culture. They found what that means through their own personal expression. They didn’t emulate something that didn’t belong to them.
Why did you want to do a remake right now and what made you choose to stay so true to the original with this video?
Qi Dada: We were asked to do a song for a local project that was being produced. We decided it might be best to hold on to it for a variety of reasons. Upon research we found a lot of synchronicity with David Byrne. One of which is his affinity to Haitian Vodou. I knew of the Talking Heads, but not intimately. So much of their content is instep with our personal philosophies. Their videos poke fun at our egos. They challenge our core beliefs without demanding that you take us, the messengers, that seriously either. Riders Against the Storm ask audiences to remember we are in this together, so why not make a party out of it.
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Y’all are hilarious in this video. A lot of people don’t know that you used to be in a comedy troupe. Can we expect to see more of this side of RAS going forward?
Chaka: The comedy side is always there. We take ourselves seriously, but also, we don’t. Life is a big mystical experience, and laughter is a must. All of my heroes as a kid were comedians (Richard Pryor), musicians (A Tribe Called Quest), or athletes (Roberto Clemente). Our comedy group in Rhode Island (before Austin), In House Freestyle, was influenced by In Living Color and Dave Chapelle. We took a lot of serious topics and turned them inside out to find the humor inside of it all. People don’t know, but we have a whole TV show just waiting for Netflix! And film scripts too!
Tell us about the RAS Day showcase at SXSW. How did that come together?
Chaka: Well, last year we played Auditorium Shores in front of thousands and I just couldn’t go back to some 200 capacity venue at 12:30 a.m. this year. They love putting us in that ‘conscious hip hop’ box, but we are so much more. There’s really no bigger SXSW stage than Auditorium Shores, but still – I couldn’t go backwards to the same old same. We work way too hard. RAS isn’t a national act yet though, and most indies get the raw end of the deal at showcases, especially Austin-based acts. So, I approached SXSW about putting together our own RAS DAY showcase. I had a list of artists, and they loved the idea. It all really happened over a conversation at Whole Foods.
What does the rest of 2018 look like for RAS?
Qi Dada: I know I fans have been quietly asking that very question. This is a breakout year for us. It looks like tours and new music (finally) that is already in the bag. It looks like a level of recognition and influence the people want. In short: “THE CHAMPS IS HERE!”
Chaka: 2018 is most definitely our year. I usually don’t say stuff like that, but people are really going to feel the vision we have been holding for nearly 10 years. Trust and believe, you ain’t seen nothing yet. Doors are opening, and we no longer have to scale walls like Spiderman, or go around the long way through a dark tunnel to get into the right situations that we deserve. This means great things for everyone around us. I am so thankful, and excited!
Chaka has designed fresh and funky “Same” gear through his NefrFreshr clothing label to accompany the song. You can order yours tee shirts, hoodies and hats here.