Cassidy - B.A.R.S. (The Barry Adrian Reese Story)

Posted November 8, 2007
Tags: Cassidy,

I’m seriously considering getting into a terrible car accident later tonight, preferably...

B.A.R.S. (The Barry Adrian Reese Story) Album Review

I’m seriously considering getting into a terrible car accident later tonight, preferably after I’ve been shot. I’m not suicidal, it just seems like a near-death experience is the quickest path to success. 50 went from mixtape buzz to industry heavyweight after taking a few slugs to the face, and Kanye blew up by spitting a song through the wire of a broken jaw from a car accident. There’s just something about nearly dying that elevates rappers to the next level. It’s a phenomenon I’m going to call the Invincible Principle.

According to the Invincible Principle, Cassidy’s an absolute lock to make it big. Life's been rough for the Philly rapper: a gunfight outside his home resulted in murder charges, he did serious jail time after barely avoiding a life sentence, then was almost killed in a car accident upon his release. On the plus side, all these hard times have apparently inspired a man best known for ring tone worthy songs like Hotel and Get No Better to make B.A.R.S., an album that instantly makes Cassidy a force to be reckoned with.

B.A.R.S. stands for the Barry Adrian Reese Story, a symbolic title that announces Cassidy's transition to a more mature businessman approach. Ok, so it’s not the most original album concept (did he not hear T.I. vs. T.I.P.?), but he still makes it work. The album begins with the aptly-titled B.A.R.S. vs. Da Hustla, a full-fledged rap battle between his two personas complete with the kind of gimmicky boxing sound effects and audience commentary the new and improved Cassidy no longer needs, but the point is B.A.R.S. walks away with the title. It’s all Barry Adrian Reese from here on out, a change that’s immediately evident on the standout track Innocent. Cassidy’s longtime production partner Swizz Beatz drops a beat that deftly balances a sorrowful piano harmony and bangin' percussion. It’s the perfect stage for Cassidy to bust his best storytelling rhymes as he breaks down the shooting and his subsequent trial with a painfully honest and skilled flow. If anyone says Cassidy’s flow hasn’t changed have them listen to Innocent…then tell them to shut up.

If Kanye was challenging the industry’s reluctance to put religious tracks on the radio with Jesus Walks, then Cassidy’s a full fledged missionary. The tracks Leanin’ on the Lord and Done for Me are as close to gospel as you’ll find on a mainstream hip-hop album, he even says “Jesus was a gangster.” Now I’m not exactly the church going type, but it’s good to see an artist speaking about his spiritual beliefs when most rappers are afraid to admit they can even spell God. The big man upstairs isn’t the only thing Cassidy’s got on his mind, B.A.R.S. touches on everything from black power to the current state of hip-hop. Damn I Miss the Game is an ode to a time when hip-hop was about more than jewelry that has Cassidy spitting, “Run DMC never killed anybody in their rhyme” over a shockingly subtle Swizzy beat. Cassidy might just rock the “gangster with a social consciousness” flow better than anyone in the game - and yes I’m a little surprised to be typing those words.

Relax, you don’t have to praise Jesus and discuss politics to enjoy B.A.R.S., Cassidy still knows how to party. Cash Rulez is undoubtedly the album’s best rider thanks to a shaking beat by Hi-Tek and some rapid fire rhymes from Bone Thugs and Eve, who absolutely kills the mic by the way. It’s been said that Cassidy can only rhyme slow, well Cash Rulez disproves that theory. In fact the major weakness of his flow is his tendency to end every line with the same word; “telling ain’t my twist I ain’t that kind of boy, homes/but a lot of n***as singing like the Commodores, homes,” but that’s a relatively minor complaint. The truth is B.A.R.S. exceeds expectations by a long shot, plus gives me more evidence for my Invincible Principle. It will be fascinating to watch where Cassidy goes from here - but first he's got to go more than a month without almost dying.

DJBooth Rating - 4 Spins

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Posted November 8, 2007
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