Cassie: The Rebirth

posted November 14, 2008 12:00:00 AM CST | 0 comments

A lot has been said and written about Cassie. When the former models first single hit the airwaves, it was quite an instant success on the radio. When her Bad Boy debut dropped and the video was played, there was a lot of criticism. That only got worse due to a series of less than impressive live performances on national television. Radio jocks, bloggers and, well, everyone was quick to exclaim that she was all beauty and no talent.

Even Cassie got in on it by releasing a statement saying, "I am aware that my live performances have been pretty bad."

But, it wasnt just about the live shows. Others speculated that her first single, Me & You was actually about felatio. This only heightened the scrutiny and darkened the image of a promising young star.

But, Cassie is aware of all of this. After all, she ended that statement by noting, I'm not a whore or a bitch, which is what people have been making me out to be. I'm a 19-year-old girl, I'm single, and I'm working my ass off.

Well, shes older now. Shes still working and shes still facing those same challenges that plagued her debut. But, in this interview with HipHopDX, Cassie let us know that shes ready to take on those who doubted and those who hated. With growth and help from major producers, shes trying to redeem and reform her image to prove theres more than just beauty to this rising star.

HipHopDX: Obviously theres been some growth since the last album. How did you experience the growth and what can fans expect to hear from you now?
I think with any experience and with time, change happens. So, I went through a lot on that first, I dont know what you want to call it, round of being an artist and having my first album out, my first and second single and stuff like that. There was some bad with it, too. So, I grew from that and just meeting different people and traveling all around the world, it influenced me and the album Im working on now.

DX: There was a lot of criticism that you faced the last time around. How hard was that for you to go through that in front of everybody? How were you able to overcome it?
Being a human being, its definitely embarrassing. Theres no way around that. But, you kind of just have to get up and dust off and keep it moving. Otherwise, it just going to become a burden and thats what people associate you with. Thats definitely what I dont want is for that to be the constant for that to rest of my career. "Oh, she messed this up so this is how its going to go for her." I have bigger plans for myself and I have already set myself up in certain situations to where I wont have to deal with that ever again. Ive worked really hard. Ive been in studio working on this album, working with my vocal coach and choreographer and busting my ass as much as possible so that I can prove to everyone that I deserve to be where I am right now.

DX: Right. There is a lot to be said about the strength and the perseverance of anybody in the industry. Whats been the hardest part about this whole thing for you? Whats a message you can give anybody else who may go through it.
Um, I think its just, you know, theres so much hate right now. You know, youre dealing with the Internet and you cant really live. You cant get around it. It just is what it is. I honestly feel likeYou have to keep it moving. If you have a vision for yourself and you want it to be created into something real, something you can touch, then you gotta keep working. Theres always going to be someone out there that doesnt like what youre doing. Thats been the best advice that I got.

DX: On your last round, there was a lot of talk about your nervousness on stage. What have you done this time to correct that?
Ive just really spent a lot of time pushing myself. You know, whether Im running on a treadmill, Im doing the Madonna running on my treadmill doing my records, and whatever it is I can do to get my stamina up and get passed it. I went out and did shows after. I never stopped doing shows after BET and 106th and Park. I never stopped because I still had to make money. I just kept it moving. I dont know if people dont know that or if that just wasntI dont know. I went overseas, did my club shows, did some stuff in the US and all different types of shows.

DX: It seems like they put you in a box, almost.
Yeah. I mean, when something is [on] national television, its a completely different thing from being a little show that you did in Dallas, Texas at a club.

DX: Right, and maybe you were awesome there but no one got to see that.
[Laughs] Yeah and no one got to see it.

DX: When folks were saying you got dropped from Bad Boy, what was your initial conversation with Puff like? Did it ever get to that point?
Um, I actually had only heard stuff like "Oh, she needs to be dropped!" I had never actually heard that I was dropped because I think I would have known before any one else. I know there were petitions that people put signatures on and shit like that. That was the only thing I heard. I never actually heard about being dropped. But, there were rumors that I was leaving. Crazy stuff.

DX: What kind of conversations did you have with Puff about all of that?
He would just be like, "Yo, whats up? Can we, like, put a blog out there that youre not leaving to just kill this rumor?" Its not really anything that deep when it gets to the label but you just want people to know whats up. You know?

DX: Puff has a real crazy personality on the shows hes on. How true to life is the portrayal of him on reality TV?
I think reality TV is, it has its points when it has to be a little bit extra for the cameras. But, Puff is definitely just honest. Anything you see on TV is his natural reactions, theyre just edited into a sequence that makes it seem like hes just crazy all the time. [Laughs]

DX: Whats been the harshest criticism from him for you?
The thing is, with himIf you Okay, for me, he knows what my problem is and I know what my problem is. So, theres no talking about it, really. But, sometimes hell be like, "Yo! What are you doing? You need to be in the studio right now! You need to do this!" You know? Hell tell me what I need to be doing. Just as an artist, if I care about my situation, I dont think its hard to hear. I just think its like, "Wow, what am I doing? Why am I not working harder?"

DX: Recently you said you wanted people to see something beyond your looks and find something in your talent. In the mainstream music world, is that a hard balance to find?
I think as long as you can let your personality and just your flavor and just everything about you translate top people, like if people can get it, you dont have to worry about that. It is hard. Im not going to go out there and be like, "Oh, Im gorgeous and this is my problem!" and whatever. I dont think thatI think people have trouble lettingI dont knowJustI dont really know. I cant really put a word together for that. But, I just dont feel like thats my problem. I feel like people see passed that by now. Ive been out for what, two years?

DX: Yeah, I ask because I read somewhere that you said, paraphrasing, I want people to see more and I want them to see my talent. What steps have you taken so that people do see beyond it and see the talent on this new album?
: I really pushed myself. Ive gone back anddoing a record in one night isnt the same thing as it was before. Like, if I do a record, Im compassionate. Theres no way around it. Now, I really need to focus. So, I can do something and then I hear it later, and Im like, "Shit! That doesnt sound right." Then, I have to go back and spend six more hours on it because there needs to be something else there, somethings missing. I dont know. Its just taking that extra step and that extra mile to really want to win. Like, you really, really want people to know that you have that in you. I didnt get here off of just drinking water and eating bread. I really, really worked hard.

DX: Who did you work with on the new album?
When it first started, I was working with B.Cox and Jim Jonsin and who else? A few others. I worked with Rodney Jerkins. Then time passed and I started working with Mario Winans and Puff in the studio. Just recently, I got in the studio with Pharrell and did some stuff with Kanye [West]. Theres a little bit of everything. Oh, and Danja did the single and a couple of others.

DX: So, have you been rhyming more or singing?
Singing! [Laughs] I cut that rapping thing out really quick.

DX: Why?
: It was fun for that one record and I wrote on that record so it was just a cool experience. It wasnt really anything that I was super serious about. I dont think anyone was like, "Wow! She can spit!" [Laughs]
HipHopDX: So, how would you describe the sound on this new record?
The sound is, you knowits hard to even explain because at this point, Ive recorded so many different records. Some which are on totally different opposite ends of the spectrum and were going to pick songs in probably like a few months. So, its kind of hard to explain the direction. But, the main direction of the songs that I really love is that theyre just big records that people will love to sing. I have a couple that are a little sensual and a little bit more grown up. Im not saying I grew up and I want to be gratuitous or anything. But, there are songs that are for my age group and there are songs that are for an age group a little younger, because I have a younger fan base too.

DX: Now, Bad Boys had a lot of success, especially lately, in the R&B and Pop worlds, with Danity Kane, Day 26 and Donnie and so forthDo you see a reality TV show of some kind in your future?
I never want to say never. [Laughs] Its just, after seeing how, there are people that I do know and some that I dont know, how reality shows have affected them in their lives, its kind of hard to want to do something like that. But, I wouldnt count it out. You never know. Maybe, therell be a one-hour special. [Laughs] I dont know if I can do the cameras all the time. Thats the only thing.

DX: Youve seen it have a negative impact?
Um, no. I just wouldnt want everything out there. Im the type of person, Im very guarded. I dont like people seeing my cry, number one. I dont think theres anything out there where any body has ever seen me cry. I just dont like that. UmBut, I would never want to put that out there for myself. But, you never know.

DX: Yeah, there has been a lot of negative and positive things come out of it.
It has a really positive impact, at the same time. Number one for Danity Kane and Day 26 [click to read]. Thats where they built their fan base. They had an audience watching these shows. Its not really about TV anymore, so the fact that they could draw in these people with these shows [was a positive thing.]

DX: Rumors have really hurt your career. What have been some misconceptions that have hurt you?
Theres been some, like my friends will hear something or well be online and theyll see something and we laugh at it because its so far from the person that I am. Im not out there. Im not promiscuous. Im not overtly sexual. [Laughs] I dont know. I think people have this vision. Just because I wore a bathing suit on the cover of Complex doesnt mean Im going to give it up to every guy in the line at the club.

DX: What about musically? How has that been?
Musically? Youd have to hear the music. My problem is Ive had a lot of songs leaked. But, at the same time, its helped me kind of figure out what people want and what they like. Theres a few records that have shown me exactly what people want to hear from me. So, its a gift and a curse at the same time. But, I dont know. Ive never really been criticized on my songs like that. People will be like, "Wow! She always picks a great song!"

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