Exclusive: Hit-Boy's Surf Club production partner calls back to the mid-2000s, and learning from a top hit-maker of the time. He also speaks about the opportunities touring with Drake and J. Cole.
While most young artists are just shaking out of winter hibernation and scrambling for spot dates, Chase N. Cashe is kicking his feet up after a Club Paradise Tour with Drake. The emcee/producer had been on tour for weeks opening up for the Toronto trailblazer across the continental states, absorbing as much as he could on the road. “It was great experience, being to cities that I’ve never been to before and seeing if they knew me or didn’t know me,” Chase told HipHopDX this month, “Or even if they knew about Surf Club or what I have going on movement wise. It was an all-around joy to keep it real with you, it was a good thing to be around niggas I fuck with, that I can call my friends and experience some shit like that. It did a whole lot for me to start my year.”
All things considered, Chase isn’t new to the industry - this year marks his eighth in the music business. As teenagers, he and his partner Hit-Boy (currently a star in his own right) apprenticed under then up-and-coming beatsmith Polow Da Don. “We met Polow [Da Don] at a point when the industry was still making good money off of what was previously going but slowly transitioning into this Soulja Boy ‘Yule’ era,” says Chase, “That’s where we met him at, where [Fergie's] ‘London Bridge’ and Pussycat Dolls was popping and doing spins and at the same time Soulja Boy was this independent kid getting all these views on YouTube and really revolutionizing and changing the game, and Polow wasn’t foreign to that.” According to Chase, Polow is responsible for much of the business sense he and Hit-Boy have had to apply to their dealings up until this point. Their Surf Club production team and its success is proof of that.
The 24-year-old is humble but well-aware of his current position at a crossroad. While Surf Club gains notoriety for their fresh perspective behind the boards, Chase is building his Rap campaign. “I feel like I’m the way I am because I’ve been blessed to be around a lot of the people I’ve actually helped gather their success,” he admits, “People who know background on me and know me and Drake’s relationship, it’s a genuine friendship. For me it’s always been key to be humble, like, ‘Yes, I’m around these people, but I got a lot of work to do.”
After the 2011 release of his debut, Gumbeaux, the New Orleans native followed up with a second project, the DJ Drama-assisted The Heir Up There last February, a cohesive body of work that many are calling Chase’s first album. “As far as the people that jumped on The Heir Up There…” he says, “If that’s my debut to them then, okay, I’m fine with that. I feel like I’m rapping better on The Heir Up There, so I don’t have no issue with that. But to the people who know Gumbeaux as my first project I feel like you’ve been sticking around with me and you see my growth.” To make his point even more clear he notes that Jay-Z’s debut Reasonable Doubt was initially overlooked by much of the Brooklyn emcee’s current fanbase.
Chase doesn’t subscribe to the ideals of coincidence and luck. His faith lies in thoughtful planning and perfect timing. “I’m pretty observant in what I deal with man,” he states matter-of-factly, “Like when I dropped The Heir Up There, it didn’t have any features on it and [I dropped it] in the midst of Hit-Boy doing [Jay-Z & Kanye West's] ‘Ni**as in Paris’ and Drake’s ‘Look What You’ve Done,’ I’m not a dumb nigga, I know how to line shit up.” At the time Heir was released, Chase was already on the Club Paradise roster, putting in work, meeting his fans, passing out music and taking cues from Drizzy, Kendrick Lamar and A$AP Rocky. “I’m not one of those niggas to sit around and front,” he explains, “I’m not one of these people who get those big ass amounts of dough for shows. I get a lot of love and people just giving me looks and I love that I’m blessed to have niggas who fuck with me like [J. Cole] and Drake who’ll be like, ‘Yo, come and do this with me…’ and I might get $1,500, $2,500 or it might just be performing in front of a sold out show which is priceless.”
While he’s on a break from the road, Chase hasn’t stopped riding the wave. He’s already working on his next project which he says may or may not be the sequel to Heir. He’s also tapping back into his production side, working with Kendrick, Alley Boy, A$AP Rocky, Drake, and the L.E.P. Bogus Boys. As an independent artist, patience is necessary but creativity equally plays a role in his growing career. “I feel like I’m doing what I’m doing so I’m not compared to anybody,” he continues, “The only way to not be compared is to carve out a lane for yourself and that’s with consistency and doing what the fuck you wanna do and get it across as. That’s all I’m focused on.”
Photograph by Ashlay Cashlay