Exclusive: Ca$his sounds off on being responsible about the material he raps about, his Battle Rap history and his top five all time albums.
A lot of up and coming rappers would have been content with the level of fame that West Coast/Chicago shape shifter Ca$his achieved in the mid-2000s. He had cameos on songs with rap legends like Jay-Z, beats from Eminem and a deal with Shady Records. But as the prolific emcee explains, there aren’t any other rappers out there quite like him, and not just because he actually freestyles his freestyles.
Although most people might be familiar with him from the Shady Records compilation album Eminem Presents: The Re-Up, he’s now working on adding to an already huge discography of which even more veteran artists can be jealous. When we caught up with him, he was ready to put a new CD of raps together…all in one day.
“I’m doing another mixtape right now, The Loose Cannon Vol. 2,” he offered. “I’m gonna go in and do a night full of freestyles.”
And no, he doesn’t plan on stopping anytime soon, either. Nowadays he’s concentrating on bringing the reputation he has built from Shady Records to his new label, Bogish Brand. So if you unfortunately didn’t catch the first one, just rest happy knowing that sooner or later you’re bound to run into one of the many re-ups to The Re-Up.
Ca$his Explains Touring & Relaunching His Website
HipHopDX: Where are you at these days, still California?
Ca$his: I’m in OC right now.
DX: Any plans for a tour soon?
Ca$his: Yeah, I’m hopping on tour soon as I finish up this project. I’m finishing up Homeland Security 2 right now, and after that I’ma go on the road for three months. Me and Young De, we gonna hit the road. I’ma hit the road, and we performing The County Hound 2. It’s gonna be pretty good man. It’s definitely gonna be a lot of touring in the middle summer through the end of the year. I just gotta make sure I meet all my deadlines so I make my release date.
DX: I was checking out your website, and it’s pretty cool. It seems a lot more interactive than most artist’s websites. A lot of artist’s sites only tell how you can buy their album and where you can book them. But yours is the real deal. You’ve got your music for free up there, you’re in videos that you can only see there, and thanking the fans. How’d that come together?
Ca$his: At first, that was the main thing. When I first got on, I was pushing the Ca$his online website, at www.CashisOnline.com. We got a very good amount of traffic for a while. When we was doing it, the main thing was to make it interactive, more between the people. People get to see things, and there’s a reason for you to go on there and check it. I remember my homegirl out in New York was like, “Man, what happened? You used to be on the site all the time. I used to go check it every morning, and you always had a bunch of updates on there.” I kinda chilled for a while because I was in the process of just re-finding myself as a person. Now we back. We just relaunched it, and now it’s starting to move. We definitely want it to be more interactive. Every project that comes out, there’ll be different things on there. All my videos and stuff, we’re gonna start making sure that they’re on there. I definitely want to keep people coming to Ca$his online, so they can find out about Ca$his the artist, the person, the brand.
DX: It sounds like you don’t want people to come to the website just once and be like, “Oh, this is Ca$his,” and that’s it. You want them coming back again and again, kind of like it’s your headquarters.
Ca$his: Right. Exactly. I want them to learn more and more about me. I’m gonna showcase different people. Anybody that’s been cool with me, on Twitter, Instagram, stuff like that, I’m gonna start putting it up there. It’s more to have people interact with each other, but also to make people feel like they’re a part of the team. People like to feel like they’re a part of the whole Ca$his and Bogish Brand team. I do appreciate the things they do for me and my team, so I want to be able to help people out and at the same time promote myself to a bigger audience.
DX: Some artists might do mixtapes instead of albums because there’s no delay between making the music and getting it out there. Lately, mixtapes have been taking off, and albums might seem less important. Has any of that changed up your style?
Ca$his: Nah man, because I always have done mixtapes and a bunch of free songs. I’ve always been there, so it’s like my following is good as far as that. I’ve got a core audience that’s just gon’ fuck with me regardless. I try and satisfy them first and then reach out to new people. I definitely take pride in mixtapes. I’m doing another mixtape right now, The Loose Cannon Vol. 2. I’m gonna go in and do a night full of freestyles. Loose Cannon Vol. 1 did very well for me; me and DJ Far dropped that at the end of December. That was popping, so for the next one I’m about to step it up even more and go in even more on it. I don’t have to worry about my situation since it’s executive production on my behalf. It’s me and only me, so we just put the product together. I didn’t have to pull outside money from the label or nothing to put this project together. Everything is done in-house. So the project gets to come out how I want it to sound, and it’s gonna be right. The marketing budget is the only thing I really need help with from the label. As far as recording the project—getting it mixed and mastered, the videos, and doing all those things—I got that. I’m a big enough artist that I got enough bread to do that, and I have enough clout. I tour constantly, so that’s not a problem for me to reach out, get the homies on the project, get verses from people and get beats and drums. I got all that set.
Ca$his Says, “I’m Always A Part Of Shady Records.”
DX: So if you think something, that’s how it happens? And it will happen as quick as possible?
Ca$his: Yeah. With the production I have my homeboy, Rikinatti, who been down since before day one. He has the production at Bogish Brand, our entertainment company. I have an element and an idea of what I want, and I can just relay that to him. We can sit in the lab together, and I’m like, “I like that. No, I don’t like that,” and it comes out right. Or, he just goes in and collabs with a bunch of different other producers and people who play keys, drummers and bass players. Then we come up with a great record. They create a skeleton, and I go in and drop the vocals. I’m like, “Okay, I want this, and this, and this, and let’s bring this in for a breakdown.” So it’s more a group production for every project. Obviously, I have different producers and everything on there. I got Em on the project, I have a bunch of different producers on there. But the whole production of the project from beginning to end was all done in-house, and we didn’t have to use any funds from outside of the label.
DX: Are we going to see more of you working with Eminem in the future, or is that just a present day kind of thing?
Ca$his: Definitely more. I’m always a part of Shady Records. I never left. I’m able to drop my own projects. I’m a writer for Shady regardless. I’m in a writing contract with them regardless. I’m always gonna be under the Shady umbrella, and we family, regardless. The situation with them was I just needed to be on a platform where I could release projects more. They’re not in the position to release projects as many times a year as they would like to. I’m always Shady, and I’m always gonna be affiliated with that. It’s a brand that I helped build. It was already big when I got there, but I definitely it took to a whole other level at the same time. There’s a mutual respect and a mutual love that we always have.
DX: It always seemed like even before you were working with them, your eye was on Shady Records. You may have been able to work with other labels and sign with them, but you were like, “Nah, nah, I want Em.” Is that what it was like for you?
Ca$his: That’s exactly what it was. I saw Paul Rosenberg out in Vegas, two years before I got a deal. I walked up and told Paul, “I’m getting signed with y’all…y’all gon’ sign me.” And Paul was like, “What?” I went and got locked up after that. When I came back and met with them, it was funny because they was looking for me at the same time, like, “Where’s that kid Ramone that I saw? Where’s that kid at?” When I submitted them new music I was under the moniker Ca$his. They didn’t even know who I was until they saw me and was like, “You’re the dude we’ve been looking for.” It was cool.
DX: What was it about their style that brought you to them?
Ca$his: I just felt like I could make the material I wanted to make. I didn’t get into music to make money. That sounds stupid, because I do make money from it. But my passion for it wasn’t to get paid off of it. I just love making music. I was just a freestyler. I like to write poetry, and I like to write stories. I felt like Shady was a place where I could just do that. I didn’t have to concentrate on making a million club records or doing things that I thought was going against my character. Before I would have said that’s selling out. But I don’t think that’s selling out, because if that’s in your character, that’s what you do. I don’t view music as entertainment. I know it is entertainment, but I view it like, “This is my life I’m giving you in the music. In these songs I’m giving you who the fuck I really am.” I’m not a go-to-the-club-everyday dude. I didn’t want to be forced to do those type of songs, even though I can do any style record you can think of. That’s the versatility I was brought up with.
I felt like going over to Shady was where I could put out the material I wanted to do. There were other offers on the table for a lot more money, but it wasn’t about the money. I was a fan of the movement. I was a big fan of Eminem, and I am and always will be a huge fan of 50 Cent. Really, 50 was the main reason that made me want to go over there. I saw what happened with 50, and I saw that he had his team in position to roll when it was time to go. I didn’t have my team in position when it was time to go, but we came from the ground up. I really started at the bottom of that label. I feel good about being there to help build the brand up and all that, and now I really just want to help cement that legacy. Anything that I do, whether it’s good or bad, it’s gonna be a reflection of Shady Records. I want to make sure that the material I put out upholds the legacy that I was a part of. At the same time, it creates a legacy for Bogish Brand because that’s my label, and that’s like my all. I’m putting my soul into that, and Bogish Brand is where my whole focus is right now. I know where I can take it with the lessons I’ve learned from the game and everything that I’ve learned in the music industry. I’ve had the pleasure of being around everyone from Suge Knight, to Dr. Dre. I’ve been around Puff, Jay-Z…a bunch of people. I got to soak up bits and pieces of the conversation and things like that from people, and I value that, just to be able to stand in the same circle of people that I grew up listening to. I grew up listening to these guys, and I was actually able to be on a song with 50 Cent, Eminem, Dr. Dre, and Jay-Z at the same time. It’s all proper validation.
The time is right now. My work ethic has always been crazy. I’ve always done a bunch of music, so now it’s like I’m putting them together. I have an outlet to do a release every quarter. I’m not gonna over-saturate myself, and I’m not gonna give 20 songs every time. I’m gonna give people bomb material. It could be an EP, or an LP. I’m coming strong with that every quarter, because right now, the way I’m looking at music…before, someone like Ma$e could drop that. When I was a kid, he dropped Harlem World, and I was like, “Damn, man.” Being a shorty in high school, I was like, “That shit was bangin’. I’m fucking with that whole shit.” I was like a freshman. That shit ran for like three, four years. Nowadays, your shit be hot, and next week your song might be at the bottom of the website now. So, in that case I gotta keep coming and staying in competition. What’s good is I’ve always had a work ethic and created good material. Now, I think the game has actually changed more towards the indie grind, and I been prepped for the indie grind the whole time.
Why Ca$his Says The Independent Model Suits Him Best
DX: So the game has come around so that cats like you are in the right place?
Ca$his: Oh, for sure. You got brothers like Kendrick Lamar. Even though he had Dre pushing all that, that was Top Dog Entertainment that did that. That was Top Dog...that was his label that did that for him. I’m really proud of that. You look at people like Game who goin’ the indie route and making his bread.
DX: It’s not about the big labels anymore, it’s what labels can get the project out in the right way as quick as possible.
Ca$his: Right, so you can get out there and get on the road and make your money. There’s so many different labels. My situation is through RBC Records, and we have distribution through E1 Music. There’s a bunch of different labels out there. Indie labels will give you some money, work your project, and as long as you have a following, a base and you ready to get out there and do that work, you’ll make it. Now I’m making a decent amount of money. I had big checks when I went into Shady, but now I’m getting constant, constant, constant money all year long, which is a great thing. I’m able to put out the right project, and I’m a business.
DX: What do you think is your legacy to other rappers and to the business? You see anyone out there who has a little bit of Ca$his in them?
Ca$his: I think Wiz Khalifa got some Ca$his in him for sure. I respect Wiz, and I’m a big fan of Wiz Khalifa. We came in the game at the same time. We were both in those magazines at the same time. I have nothing but respect for Wiz. When you look at me, I was the first dude smoking weed and joints with hella tattoos, tatted up like a skater. That was my lifestyle, that’s what I possessed. That was really me. I’m not saying that he was copying me, but when I see that, I’m like, “Aw man.” I can relate, and I can respect that. I come in contact with a lot of artists that have told me they’ve been fans of mine, and they’ve always liked my shit. I appreciate that; I think that’s good in Hip Hop because it helps. I definitely hear my influence in artists, but then I’m sure people can hear artist’s influence in me also. It’s a give-and-take game, which is good.
DX: If you had to name a few artists that someone might find in you, who would you say?
Ca$his: I would definitely say Tupac—definitely a lot of that. Probably some 50 Cent. All those artists that are on Pandora for me, those guys are really linked to me. Our material definitely reflects each other. But as far as people I grew up with, Twista. In my new material I’m starting to break that out, because I’m from Chicago.
How Chicago, California & Life Experience Influence Ca$his
DX: You grew up in Chicago, but moved to California when you were younger. In your music, how do you think you combine the two places?
Ca$his: I combine them, and I just do me. I don’t go into music like, “I’m gonna make this,” I just do me. I’m from Chicago, and I spent the majority of my life there. Then I spent a lot of time in California, so I’m a mixture of both of those places. My brashness and the don’t-give-a-fuck attitude and the cockiness, that’s all Chicago. I have songs like, “Talkin’ All That” off Eminem Presents: The Re-Up, that would be my Chicago style. That would definitely be the Chicago influence coming out, because that represents the city to a T. Then songs like “’Lac Motion” represent my California style. It’s laidback, chill. It’s still hard, still gangsta, but it’s more melodic.
My Chicago side, it comes from the pain from that area. It’s just very direct and painful. California is more chill, but it definitely gets hard out here though. But it’s poetic how things will happen to you out here. The same things happen here that do everywhere else. In Chicago and New York, people get killed…all kinda shit. But in California, they gon’ be blued up, ridin’ through, and it’s gon’ look like a scene from a movie. It’s gon’ be like, “Damn, that shit was cool the way they just killed him.” Even though it’s a bad thing. I’m not making light of people losing they life or no shit, but it looks like how it does in a film. In Chicago, that shit look like that footage they show of Vietnam—people with they brain really out. That shit is real. That’s the difference. I’m a mixture of both of them.
DX: You can talk about that stuff, and people can trust you. You’ve lost people to guns and drugs. How do you feel about it when other rappers talk about histories as far as that goes, with murder, drugs, jail?
Ca$his: There’s definitely a lot of artists out there that I hear that I’m like, “Alright, it’s highly debatable that you’re who you say you are.” I just look at it like, “That’s just entertainment. They’re in it to make the money.” I can’t knock nobody for trying to make a living. I just look at it like, “Alright, those guys, they’re in it to make the money. It’s not authentic.”
DX: So you don’t get mad or worked up about it?
Ca$his: Nah, I’m not a hater at all. I look at it like, if a person that isn’t really about that life can capitalize off of that life, then I know that someone that really does live that life and is from that life should be able to capitalize also. We just have to wisen up and maybe step outta the street and step into the business world a little more to make it. That’s what those guys did. They always tell me, “Oh, you have the look? Yeah, you have this? Aw man, we can go ahead since you got the background. We can promote you to girls. Aw man, it’s gon’ be good.” Then you walk into the studio with a gun, for real, and the first time they think it’s funny. But when they see it every day, they like, “We see him, no matter where he’s at, this how he really is. Oh, he’s really out there like that. He’s smacking people. He wildin’” Then they like, “Oh, this isn’t really what I want. I want someone that raps like this. I want someone that probably grew up in that neighborhood and knows something about it or their grandma used to live over there, but they not really from it. And they not gonna react like this, because it’s dangerous.” They want it to be a movie and to be fake, but it’s not. For me, it’s not fake. It’s not a movie. It’s who I am.
So when you promote that, and you want to pay a person for being wild and being violent, then you have to deal with the repercussions of that. That’s how it goes. They like, “Look, we want people who can do that. And yeah, they from these areas, where there’s poverty and there‘s criminal activity. But they’re not really about that. They can rap about it because they were born or lived in that area. They can get a pass from America and overseas. They can get a pass from people that’s not really in the streets.” But everyone in the streets that’s in America and overseas, they like, “Alright, we ain’t havin’ that.” But if the beat is bangin’ and the rap is good? That’s how people feel. It’s like, “Oh, if the beat is bangin’? Aw man, he got the cool rap?”
Ca$his On The Current Lack Of Authenticity In Hip Hop
DX: That’s all it takes.
Ca$his: People listen to kids now, which is crazy. Adults listen to kids to figure out what music is hot. What happens then, is that kids are more naïve and impressionable anyway. So they listening to people that are not—I don’t want to say fake—but they’re not living the life they portray in their music and in their videos. But these kids go out and they try to front on it, and they end up dying, going to jail or something bad ends up happening to them. And it’s because they lookin’ up to people that don’t live that life. And if you don’t live that life, when you put that message out, you’re putting it out in a reckless manner. The thing that I like about Tupac a lot is that he put things out in a non-reckless manner. He’s goin’ in and yeah, he’s gon’ ride on you, bomb on you, shoot you and do all the same stuff that everybody’s talking about. But it was for a reason, and it wasn’t in a reckless manner. It wasn’t just on anybody.
Today people rapping, it’s like, “Yeah, there’s everybody, and I’m just shooting.” It’s like, yeah dawg, but when that shit happens that’s how you get shit like Columbine and shit like the shooting in Colorado. You get it like that from that type of material...movies too; movies way more. I think me, as really coming from that, I have a responsibility to not portray it as something that it’s not. I’m gonna forever live my life looking behind my back. I could be in the nicest area. I could be in Newport, Hamptons in New York, and every three seconds when I’m walking I’m always turning around and looking, watching my back. That’s the lifestyle that I live. That’s wack...that’s really wack. But don’t nobody think about that. When you hear those songs you just think, “He’s finna shoot somebody, and he gon’ have money and a million bitches and all that.” And that’s cool because that happens. Girls ain’t never been a problem, and yeah nigga, you should always be able to get money. They print money all the time. There’s too much money in circulation for you not to get it. But you gon’ spend shit on lawyers and attorneys. It’s the way that life is. It’s really the way that life is. I think artists like that definitely should get they money, but I think they should be a little more responsible. Because just ‘cause they don’t live it, they do got homies and family members that’s out there, really in them streets. And just because you paying them to be your security don’t mean that you’re helping them. You’re just putting money in their pocket, but you ain’t helping them to help others. And that’s what I do.
DX: I think Tupac’s got both sides to it. He displays the glamour side of it, with the girls and money, but then he makes songs like “Hit ‘Em Up.” He’s like, “You can live the lifestyle, but there are negative parts to it too.”
Ca$his: Hell yeah. That’s how I feel, and I come to grips with it all the time. I’m surprised I’m still here. I’m like, “Damn, that’s good.” I’m still here, I’m still young, but I’m surprised. I thought I was gon’ be dead at 23. Most men in my family didn’t make it past that. The younger generation, we getting into our late 20s, which is good. I thought that I’d be gone already. So I’m already prepared. My mama prepared, my family already prepared. It is what it is, not saying that’s what you want to happen, but when you live this life you gotta be prepared for it. ‘Cause shit you did a long-ass time ago, niggas come back for it. I always keep my eye open and be ready. You always gotta be strapped. That’s paranoia, and you always gotta be on guard. That’s what Pac rapped about and I was a shorty growing up listening to him.
DX: It reminds me of a lyric from “Changes.” It goes, “Always gotta stay strapped, because I always gotta worry about the payback, some buck that roughed up way back, coming back after all these years / Rat-tat-tat-tat-tat, and that’s the way it is.”
Ca$his: That is just how it is. I used to grow up bumping that dude’s shit on headphones. My mama would be so mad. I’d be selling dope out my mama’s window, out of my bedroom window. My mama would be asleep on the other side of the room, and I’m in there selling dope. My grandma would be in her room, and she’d hear people knocking on the window. I’d be listening to Tupac, and my mama was like, “That shit gon’ drive you crazy,” because I was already a little wild kid. It helped me. I didn’t have nobody that I thought understood what I was going through, but he understood what I was going through. I just think that that was cool. We need more artists like that. We need the fun-loving artists like Wayne. I love Lil Wayne. I think it’s good what he’s doing in his lane in Hip Hop. But I think we need artists that’s more authentic too. We need people like myself, we need the DMX’s, Shyne’s, 50’s. We need people that’s real. We need more of those artists also so that it balances it out. So that people have a choice, because there’s so many new rappers coming up. If you live that real life, you can really talk about it. There’s a group of us over here still doing it. If you don’t live that real life, and you just kicking metaphors and bars that’s good over hot beats, there’s people living that life, so you can do it. There’s people living that party life. It opens the game up and gives people hope. Right now you got people’s that’s certified gangstas that’s wearing nut-hugging jeans, and it’s embarrassing when I see ‘em. I’m like, “Aw man, how you like that?” Because that’s the style.
DX: What’d you think of your man Wiz Khalifa’s cover art then? You had to have seen that.
Ca$his: [Laughs.] Aw man, that shit was wild. I don’t know. When I saw it I was just like, “Damn.” I think he tryna do the whole Jimi Hendrix thing, so I could see where he was coming from. I just wouldn’t do it. I was just like, “Man, I hope none of the homies would let me smoke whatever weed he was hitting that day and take no picture.” He a Rock star. He don’t really care. They say Wayne wear girl pants, and don’t nobody care. People don’t really care. Being real doesn’t matter no more. Do whatever you want in life. I can’t be mad at ‘em. I respect whatever else somebody gotta do. I don’t understand it at all. My idea is people be clownin’. But that’s because people view me in a much more real manner then they would Wiz. I can’t judge him to my standards, and he can’t judge me by his standards.
DX: Where else do you see being real isn’t important anymore?
Ca$his: Just in life in general. Specifically in Rap, but just in life. There’s so many suckas and bustas it doesn’t really matter. People are fraudulent in all areas...in every job, and it’s crazy. I talk to people, and I have a big family; they tell me things that are going on. The world is crazy.
DX: How about your kids? You try to talk to them about it?
Ca$his: I definitely get my kids up on game about who’s real and who’s not. I don’t want them going through it in life. My kids, they tend to think that everybody’s good, everybody has their back and that everybody’s their friend. That’s not life. People be using them, just because they have things that other people might not have. So people might use them to take advantage of that. I prepare them for that. I just prepare my kids. Even in basketball, this shit is crazy. I play ball...I love playing ball. In the NBA, you got these dudes out here, they gotta wear suits. They gotta dress all uncomfortable. If you wanna wear a suit, cool. They got people out there…you can’t wear a jersey out there like you used to. Why? Because it looks like Hip Hop. Yeah, with the nerd glasses and shit like that, looking mad fruity. That’s crazy. It’s just not about who you are. These guys didn’t grow up like that, they didn’t grow up dressing like that. But they feel they have to do it, because the way their association is. I think that’s a whole new form of just conforming to what somebody else want. I think it’s mental slavery. Because you feel like you have to do something you don’t want to do, and you trick yourself into thinking you like it. You don’t like pink sneakers with fuchsia laces, you don’t like polka dot and plaid at the same time. You don’t like that. But you wanna front like you wanna wear that on TV, and you have an attitude like, “I don’t care what nobody think.” There’s no more ghetto stars in the league no more. There’s no more stars like that in Hip Hop no more. They call them the troublemakers. The superstars now are nice guys. Like Chris Paul is dope, people like Kyrie Irving. Nice guys who are really good and talented, but they’re not from that same area.
Ca$his: Whatever anybody else don’t never piss me off, because niggas don’t piss me off. As far as 808s & Heartbreak? I liked that ‘cause at the time I was going through it with my women, and we was beefin’, so I liked that shit. I thought it was cool for someone to get it out. I wouldn’t necessarily take that chance and release no shit like that because like I said, I’m judged by different standards than other people are. Any time you do something successful you’re gonna create a lane for other people to make money. I think that’s a good thing, and that’s why we have to be very, very mindful of what we do and what we put out, because we’re gonna create a lane for some good stuff and some bullshit. I don’t really listen to that material but they doing their thing, so that’s good.
DX: So what about your kids? Do you not say certain things or cover certain topics because you know they’re gonna hear it one day? How involved are they in their music?
Ca$his: Now I probably think about songs, but before I didn’t. Now I’ve done songs where I’m like, “Damn, my kids are gonna hear this. My daughter’s gonna hear this.” My wife still give me grief about records I’ve done from fucking years ago. You gotta do what you gotta do in this music game. My kids, they all like music. They be writing raps and all kinds of shit, freestyling. I got my little 5-year old, he a beast.
DX: You gonna put him on?
Ca$his: Yeah, he can freestyle like a mothafucka. He got bars, and he’s got his delivery and his cadence and his voice.
DX: What’s his name?
Ca$his: His name Lil Terrence.
DX: Should we look for a mixtape from Lil Terrence soon?
Ca$his: Naw man, he 5-years old. I’m bringing him around the studio so he really soaking up the game. He playing around, but once he get ready he might come hard, like Lil’ Bow Wow. Lil Terrence man, y’all be on the look out for him.
DX: What was your first experience with rapping? Were you freestyling over beats on the radio, battle rapping, or doing songs with hooks and everything?
Ca$his: Me and my brother, he rapped too. We was rocking rhymes. We used to write rhymes. He was really into that rap shit, for real. I used to be like, “Damn. He gon’ be a rapper.” He was really into it. I was more into the street shit. One day I just start freestyling with him, and my big brother and all them, they was like, “God damn. You were born to be a rapper my dude.”
DX: How old were you?
Ca$his: I was like 12 when that happened. Then I went to the studio for the first time when I was 14 and I just cut one record with my cousin. We cut a record, and it was just to do it. We had some money and we just wanted to cut a record and see what it felt like to go in the studio. I was like, “Yeah, I like that.” That was it. To me, I wasn’t taking it serious, I just did something that I wanted to do. Then, maybe when I was like 17, I start really paying attention to rap. My homeboy Rikinatti, he was in a group. They came up, tryna battle me, and I ate each one of them up. I didn’t even understand why they did that, because I didn’t even say I rapped or no shit, but they kept on, and I just ate they ass up. And from there it was just a mutual respect thing. I started going all around Orange County, all around LA just battling. I used to go the park, I used to go to Project Blowed, I used to go everywhere.
DX: Do you think your battle rap history comes out in your rap now?
Ca$his: Yeah, it does. My delivery is more energetic, and I can adapt to changed-up beats, and I can do hooks. That’s what I do when I freestyle. I wasn’t the type of battler that dissed you. I can make a diss record, but I was more like, “If we gon’ diss, we mine as well just scrap.” I would freestyle whole records. I would freestyle records with hooks, and all that, and know when to bring it back on the 16 bars. I’d freestyle bridges with it. That’s what I do in songs. I know the industry, they write the freestyles, but I don’t do that. I do the real freestyle. I try to model myself after Kurupt. I think Kurupt is the most influential artist that I’ve ever met. He took the time to sit down and give me game. On several occasions I kicked it with him. I grew up studying that whole Tha Dogg Pound flow.
DX: When you rap, do you come up with the words first, the rhymes first, or both at the same time?
Ca$his: Together, at the same time. I let the beat play.
DX: So you always have the beat first?
Ca$his: Yeah, I always hear the beat first, unless I do something a cappella. I let the beat play, and I freestyle. It may hit me but certain words are chopped off. It’s incomplete for a minute. I get the pattern, then I vibe to it. I might write it down sometimes because I can catch myself better. Sometimes having more focus is better. I sit there, and I turn the music up, and I smoke and smoke and smoke and smoke and smoke. As it keeps looping and looping and looping, I’m ready. Maybe 10, 15 minutes I got the whole record down. I’m a one-take jake, man.
DX: Say you’re writing a verse that’s 16 bars long. Do you start from bar one and go all the way through 16, or do you keep a book of rhymes and maybe take two bars here, three bars there, and fit them together if they work?
Ca$his: Nah, I don’t really know how to do that. I’m not good at taking records from other songs of mine and putting it in there. I just come with the bars. I just go through it. I get the verse, two or three bars I have a pattern on how I wanna do it. And once I have the pattern, it’s all good. The only thing that changes is if the beat changes or if there’s any drop-outs.
DX: Say a beginner rapper comes to you and they say, “Ca$his, you’re sick. Give me some advice on how to be a better rapper.” What’s the first thing you tell them?
Ca$his: I’d tell them to remember the rhyme. That’s the most important thing in rapping. That’s what made it, rhyming. Some of the new artists forget about rhyming. But the classic, true artists don’t. Jay-Z always rhyme, Nas rhyme, Em always rhyme. The biggest artists, DMX, they always rhyme when they do their rap. People need to pay attention to that. If you stay rhyming, and build your vocabulary and confidence, you’ll be alright.
DX: Can you think of any artists who forget to rhyme?
Ca$his: I don’t listen to too many people. I have my few artists that I listen to that I’mma fan of. Like I said, Jay-Z, I bump some of the Wayne joints, I bump 50 joints. I bump Twista. There’s not a whole bunch of people. I listen to some songs from Kurupt. Like I said, I bump a lot of Snoop Dogg. I bump 2pac, I bump B.I.G. I bump a lot of Beanie Sigel. That’s pretty much it, I don’t really bump too many artists because I’m always working. I don’t ever want to sound like other people. Treach is one of my favorite artists, my uncle bumped a lot of Treach. Kurupt was the artist I sat with that really put me up on game, and who I pattern myself after. Because he can freestyle forever and he can rap forever. He just knows rap. So he’s one of my idols in rap.
DX: You said you met him?
Ca$his: Yeah, I did a song with him. I did four or five songs with him. I be in the studio just chillin’ and vibin’ with him. I had the pleasure of knowing him when I was just Lil Ramone. When I became Ca$his, I saw how proud he was, like, “Man, my little homie growin’ up. He made it big, he made a name for himself.” Kurupt said I was gon’ make it and he wasn’t lying. Those are people that know the true emcees. I have nothing but respect.
DX: What’s your favorite thing about Kurupt’s style of rapping?
Ca$his: He don’t give a fuck. He just don’t give a fuck, and his vocabulary is just sick. He was saying some shit, you gotta be smart and have some knowledge to know what he’s talking about. Tha Streetz Iz A Mutha was a classic. That CD he dropped was amazing. His vocabulary, and the way he just goes off when he rhymes. He just puts words and syllables together that sound sick. When he goin’ in, on a good one? He’s un-seeable, he’s like Kobe Bryant.
DX: If you had to name your top 5 rap albums, what would they be?
Ca$his: In no particular order…All Eyez On Me. That embodied everybody, that was a universal classic. Ready To Die from Biggie I thought was amazing. I’ll go with the first The Blueprint. I’ll go with Get Rich or Die Tryin’ from 50. I like The Massacre better but the impact that had on music was crazy. And I’ll go with…Diplomatic Immunity.
DX: You got anything you wanna say to the fans?
Ca$his: I just want to say to all the fans, thank y’all for the support. I’m goin’ in, I’m ready. I took 5 months off to get things in motion, hit the road, do all that, but now I’m back. I’m about to release an onslaught of music that’s just gonna go non-stop. We gonna run this whole year. I appreciate y’all for stayin’ down, stayin’ loyal. We gon’ take it there.