Formed in London, England in 1995, the Ras Ites comprises Cyrus Richards (b. 15 November 1981, London, England; keyboards), Kashta Menelix Tafari (b. 22 April 1981, London, England; guitar/vocals), Otis Cox Rodney (b. 11 March 1985, London, England; drums), and Jah Mel Ellison (b. 1 June 1982, London, England; bass/vocals). While growing up in north-east London the quartet attended nyahbinghi sessions and were inspired to perform together. They then perfected their craft in a musical workshop and entered a talent competition in London’s Hackney Empire. They were the only live band taking part and their performance of ‘Africa’ resulted in the group being likened to the early 80s sound of Musical Youth and Morgan Heritage. Ras Ites won the competition and the opportunity to perform in Jamaica at the Reggae Sunsplash festival in Ocho Rios. While performing in Jamaica, Hugh Fraser invited the group to an audition on their return to the UK. In 1999, they signed with Jet Star and released a series of roots songs including ‘New World Disorder’ and ‘Jah Love’. They became a feature on the European festival circuit and performed to critical acclaim at the 1998 Geel Festival in Belgium.
The group continued to release conscientious tunes and in 2000 performed at the Essential Festival. They maintained a high profile in the reggae chart with a series of hit singles such as, ‘High Grade’, ‘Bring Back The Rub A Dub Style’ and a version of the Naturalites’ ‘Picture On The Wall’. In 2001, they returned to the Essential Stage and released their debut, Urban Regeneration, featuring notable tracks such as ‘Danger In Your Eyes’, ‘Live Consciously’ and ‘Africa’. The album was produced by reggae veteran Danny Ray and Fitzroy Blake and was hailed by the media as demonstrating a return to roots and culture.