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Cassidy has an amazing story. This is why it’s unfortunate that most of the coverage surrounding his new album, “B.A.R.S.,” focuses on a shared release date with a certain American Gangster from Brooklyn and not on his brand new deeply-rooted musical chronicle.
Instead of spotlighting that Cassidy isn’t sitting in prison or lying six feet deep, after facing attempted murder charges and nearly dying in a car accident in the same calendar year, critics and interviews are focusing in on trivial components such as production credits from Swizz Beatz.
As DJBooth’s very own Nathan S. alluded to in his review of “B.A.R.S.,” Cassidy has overcome the odds. Based on the track record of a few stars that are always in the spotlight, 50 Cent and Kanye West, having your life nearly end isn’t always such a bad thing.
During an interview with DJBooth’s DJ “Z,” Cassidy discusses how he mentally prepared for this past Tuesday’s release of “B.A.R.S.,” what advice he would provide to fellow industry mate T.I. and why he chose to release all three of his albums under different personalities.
Listen to the Interview
Cassidy Interview Transcription
DJ Booth: What’s goin’ on ya’ll? It’s your boy “Z,” doin’ it real big, and joining me inside the DJ Booth is a hustla who has moved past his problems and out from behind bars to tell the story of Barry Adrian Reese. Give up for my man, Cassidy – how you doin’?
Cassidy: Yeah, yeah, yeah, what’s goin’ on, man? I’m happy to be here, doin’ my thing, runnin’ around. My album just dropped, so I’m workin’ hard in an effort to let the streets know that it’s the best project out!
DJ Booth: Like you said, the album dropped on Tuesday. Describe your state of mind leading up to the day of the release.
Cassidy: I was excited. I felt real blessed and I appreciated the fact that I can drop my third album. I went through a lot of trials and tribulations the last couple years, so I thought that I wasn’t going to be in the position to ever come out with an album again. When I went to jail for the two attempted murders, and then I got in a nearly fatal accident, they said that I was gonna be brain dead and I wasn’t gonna be able to survive. I never though I was gonna be able to rap again or drop a third album. So for me to be comin’ out with this third project and gettin’ the response that I’m gettin’, I feel blessed and I appreciate the fact that I can do it more than I ever did before.
DJ Booth: It’s interesting that you say that because my next question was going to be, at any point while you were behind bars serving time or lying in a hospital bed recovering from your car accident, did you consider your rap career potentially over, and you said yes – the answer is yes?
Cassidy: I always stayed optimistic and I kept the faith. I bettered my relationship with God, read the Bible from cover to cover almost twice. I always had the faith and I felt as though I was going to get out of this situation, and I felt I was going to recover from the accident. But at times, when you wake up and you question, “Why is this happening?” You always have to take the worst into consideration, that’s what I had to do. Because I was facing a death penalty or life without the possibility of parole, and I was facing being brain dead and paralyzed. So even though I kept the faith and knew that God could pull me through it, I didn’t know if I was meant to be pulled through. You never know what could be the end result?
DJ Booth: After listening to the new album, it’s clear that you can’t thank God enough for assisting you through both the mental and physical survival that you went through. If you could have a one-on-one interview with the man upstairs, Cassidy, what would be the first question you’d ask him?
Cassidy: That’s something I’ll have to think about – I don’t know. The first question I would ask him is, just to forgive me for my sins, accept me, sanctify me, and allow me to be close to him or sit in the gates of heaven. That’s the first thing I would ask him?
DJ Booth: During the trials and tribulations that you experienced over a year’s time, which is more than most people are forced to deal with during their entire lifetime, did you ever ask yourself, “Why me?”
Cassidy: No, because in the Bible it’s a story, in the Book of Job, that tells about how Job went through his trials and tribulations. But, in the beginning of the Book of Job, it says that Job was the most righteous man on the earth at that time. So I said, well, if the Lord consider him to be righteous, and told the Devil that he was righteous, why would he allow Job to go through all those trials and tribulations? But for me, readin’ the rest of the Bible, I understand why he allowed him to go through those things. And it wasn’t like a consequence; it wasn’t to pay him back for something that he did. He could have been a person that said, “Why me?” and lost his faith, but he didn’t do that – he kept the faith and he just stuck with God, and that’s why he was blessed to have more than what he had in the beginning, after he went through his trials and tribulations. And I went through my trials and tribulations, and I’m about to be blessed to have more, too.
DJ Booth: The expression, “What doesn’t kill you only makes you stronger,” couldn’t be more relevant here.
DJ Booth: Let’s jump into “The Mix.” It’s a portion of questions that focuses on a few of your brand new songs off of “B.A.R.S.” On the song, “I Pray,” you spit the opening line, “I pray every day for a better life/but there’s never a day I ain’t tryin’ to get my chedda right.” Now, there’s a grand assumption that money means happiness, and the success that you’ve seen in your field of work has allowed you to reap those dividends. All things considered, describe how your life could be bettered from this point forward.
Cassidy: A better life to me right now is being able to provide for my family, and better my relationship with God – even though it’s better than it used to be, I can still get a better relationship with God. And after I’ve created a situation where I can provide for my friends and family, the only thing left for me to do is whatever God put me on this earth to do. I’m not necessarily sure what it was that he put me on this earth to do, but he put me on this earth to do something, so that’s what I’m going to be focused on tryin’ to do. You’ve definitely gotta focus on bein’ financially stable so that you can provide for yourself, so that’s why I said, “I pray every day for a better life.” But I don’t feel as if money gives you a better life, and that’s why I separated the two. Because some people think, once you got money, than your life is better and everything is gonna be all good. But that’s why you hear, “More money, more problems,” ‘cause there’s a lot of people who got a bunch of money, but got a bunch of problems. And they’re not happy, they’re not satisfied, and they don’t have a better life. Sometime they could lose the money, or lose certain things they got, but gain in other areas and have a better life.
DJ Booth: I agree with you one hundred percent. On track twelve, you and Mashonda collaborate on a song, “Take a Trip.” When I was younger, when I had to go to the dentist my mother would tell me, “Take a trip in your mind to a place that you enjoy.” While you were locked away behind bars, or, lying in a hospital bed with a neck collar and IV’s everywhere, where in your mind did you take a trip to?
Cassidy: Bein’ that I got in the game when I was 16, and I’ve been travelin’ the world for a long time, I’ve seen so much and been so many places that the only trip I was wantin’ to take was to my house, to sit on my couch and sleep on my bed – I just wanted to go home. I didn’t want to go to an island or to a foreign country; all I wanted to do was take a trip to my house. And some people that stay in their house a lot, they wanna take a trip somewhere to an island, they wanna go out, they wanna experience things, ‘cause they not used to that. But when you’re talkin’ to a celebrity or a person that travels the world, all the time, when they get a break, they don’t wanna be on vacation – sometimes they just wanna go chill in the comfort of their own house.
DJ Booth: I can understand that completely. With cuts like, “Cash Rulez,” and “I Get My Paper,” it’s obvious, as we even discussed earlier, money is a driving force behind any hustle. Let’s say the hip hop game, hypothetically, were to go bankrupt, and the industry were not to offer up enough dough to warrant committing to a full-time job. Would you still rap?
Cassidy: Yeah, and that’s the difference between me and a lot of other artists, and that’s the reason why I still stay original, I still try to go hard, I still focus on bein’ lyrical. I don’t just water down my music to try to get it downloaded, try to be successful, because I got love for music, and I would do it even if I couldn’t make a dollar doin’ it. It’s even better that I can do something that I love and provide for my friends and my family. The same way I can never make a dollar off playin’ basketball, but I still go to the courts and play basketball, you know what I’m sayin’? I could never make a dollar off playin’ video games, but I still still play video games – it’s just something I like to do. So I feel as though rap is the same thing.
DJ Booth: That concludes our portion of, “In The Mix,” but I want to continue talking about this album. At certain points throughout the album, as I listened, I felt like you really opened up emotionally, while at other points I felt as though you held back. Do you feel as though you reached the fine line between opening up and giving your all to your listeners, and then at the same time, still being closed off and not revealing too much?
Cassidy: Considering the fact that we in this business and it is so crazy right now, I’ve never reached the status that I wanted to reach. I wanted to let people know who I was and tell my story so they can know me as a person, but at the same time, when you give them too much, stuff is gonna go over their heads – they might not listen and really think. Sometimes you’ve got to spoon feed them; you’ve got to give them a little bit at a time so they can understand it. In the beginning, when I called my first album “Split Personality,” and I said I had three personalities – Cassidy, The Problem, and Barry Reese – people didn’t really understand where I was going with it. “What is he sayin’ about the split personality thing?” Then the second album I was supposed to drop was for The Problem, because he was the harder cat, and on “Split Personality” I went a little commercial with “Hotel” and “Get No Better.” But the Problem battled The Hustla in the beginning of my second album and he lost, so that’s why I called the album, “I’m A Hustla,” because The Hustla beat the battle. Now I’m coming with my third album which is called “The Barry Adrian Reese Story,” and Barry Reese was always one of my personalities too. So now it’s the realer side of me, the person that I am, not as a star and not as a rapper, who’s gettin’ a chance to tell his side of the story. Now you seein’ all the personalities get a chance to shine, and gettin’ a chance to do their thing. And then the album after this is gonna be self-titled, it’s gonna be called, “Cassidy,” which was another one of my personalities.
I do different types of songs, like “Hotel”’ is nothing like “I’m A Hustla,” and “I’m A Hustla” is nothing like “My Drink N My 2 Step,” and “Drink N 2 Step” is nothing like “Leanin on the Lord,” and “Leanin on the Lord” is nothing like “Innocent Man,” and “Innocent Man” is nothing like “Cash Rulez.” I do all different types of music. And it’s gonna take the fans a little bit of time to understand where I was goin’. But now, as time pass and they see where I’m goin’, it’s startin’ to make more sense.
DJ Booth: The follow-up single to “Drink N My 2 Step” is going to be “Innocent Man,” featuring the long-lost Mark Morrison, so congratulations on finding out where that guy went off to. Is that single choice a PR move from J Records, or is that the best opportunity for you to state exactly what went down and clear your name?
Cassidy: J Records, Sony BMG and Full Surface all loved the song and they thought that it was a good move for me to do “Innocent Man” as the second single. I make a lot of decisions now, ‘cause I stepped it up on the business side. I even A&R this project myself. I said that I wanted to go with “Innocent Man” because I went to jail for the two murder attempts and I came home and I talked about it a little bit in “Drink N 2 Step.” But I never really got into detail with why I went to jail, what was the reasons, why I was charged with murder. There was a lot of magazine write-ups, a lot of dot-com write-ups about what happened and how many shells was let off and what type of gun that was used, and it just seemed like I was such a bad guy. People didn’t really understand how it went down and the reason things happened how they happened. So I didn’t want people to think that I was just a convicted murderer, just runnin’ around, just goin’ crazy – I wanted people to understand that I was a good guy that was just forced to be in that situation, and I’m an innocent man. I wanted to let the world know through my own mouth, and not through somebody else’s words.
DJ Booth: Watching what T.I. is going through right now – obviously, his case is a lot different than what you went through. If you could give him one piece of advice to help him get through what he’s about to endure, what would it be?
Cassidy: Keep God first and just scan your Bible and pray a lot.
DJ Booth: Everyone knows that you and Jay both dropped albums this past Tuesday. I heard you say that you’re not concerned with first week numbers. How much of that statement is fact, and how much of that statement is anticipation of results?
Cassidy: I’m definitely concerned with my first week numbers, because that’s how I’m gonna be able to provide for my friends and family. It’s a business – I’m not just on it for the love. So I gotta sell a certain amount to be able to pay back the money that I spent to make the music. I definitely want to sell as much as possible, but I feel as though I got a good image and I put my all into the music. I got a story to tell, I went through so many trials and tribulations. I did everything possible to be successful this time around, so I can’t really do nothing else but that. I’m not really concerned with the first week results because sometimes people get confused the first week off reputation or how much money somebody made, or how much songs they put out in the past. They might have a lot of fans ridin’ with them because of that, and they might have a successful first week, but once people hear that music and hear the new album that they put out and realize that they don’t like it, they might drop 60 or maybe even 90 percent after the first week, and not sell as much continually because people don’t really like their music. And then you might have somebody that come out and might not have a big first week, but once people do hear their music and hear the album and hear what they puttin’ out, then they will continue to sell records for a long period of time. I remember when Akon dropped an album – in the first week he sold 30,000 records, but he kept grindin’, he kept pushin’, and that album went past platinum. And that’s because it was quality music that continued to sell, but wasn’t really necessarily about the first week.
DJ Booth: Cassidy, like you said, it’s all about longevity! Give everybody a website or a Myspace page so they can find out more about the brand new album which is out in stores right now.
Cassidy: Definitely. myspace.com/cassidy, that’s where they can find me, all day every day.
DJ Booth: Best of luck, great project, and thank you so much for taking the time to hang out in the DJ Booth with me.
Cassidy: You were big for me, man. I appreciate everything. I’ll holla at you later.