You read the headline correctly. Casey Veggies is here, with new music, a fresh rollout, and a positive message. The LA rapper may have been quiet for a few years, and he may have parted ways with his former record label, Epic, but now, Casey, 25, is ready to make a lot of noise.
“Sometimes you get the short end of the stick on the label side,” Casey tells me of his time with Epic. “They didn’t understand what was going on for this second album, and I had more of an opportunity to carry on my own vision and take back creative control and that direct relationship with my fans. [Epic] had me waiting a little too long to drop music, and from them telling me they want this type of records, them telling me ‘We want hits,’ we kind of hit a wall.”
Yet, hitting a wall with Epic did not discourage Casey Veggies in the least. As resilient as he was on his first mixtape, the man born Casey Jones has a deep-seated love for the hip-hop game. The game changed his life, after all. That love and pursuit of growth—that reverence for the genre—is what keeps him going.
“I got a certain hunger and drive that’s pushing me to get what I deserve in the game,” he says. “People have shown me respect, but I haven’t gotten that credit that I for sure deserve.”
The path to credit is paved in new music. In that department, Casey is excitedly preparing for the release of a new 10-track project. “These songs are super special to me and I feel like in order for me to continue the new chapter, I gotta drop the new music,” he says of his forthcoming offering, dropping within the next few weeks. We’ll be waiting, with bated breath.
DJBooth’s full interview with Casey Veggies, lightly edited for content and clarity, follows below.
DJBooth: Starting from the beginning, what’s something you wish you knew before signing to Epic?
Casey Veggies. It’s more about sticking to the initial vision that was already created then trying to create a new one.
Did they hamper your creativity?
It’s from not fully believing in the artistry or what the artist is doing. When the artist is different, or coming from a different angle, I feel like the labels just don’t understand it, sometimes. When an artist is pushing the bar or being different, not being of the norm of the industry and not following the hype, sometimes it’s not really accepted well. The music, they don’t understand how to fully market it.
You feel like they just didn’t know what to do with your sound?
Slightly. I don’t wanna make this interview super throwing shade on them, you know what I’m saying. Obviously, they did a cool job, they just didn’t understand artists coming from a hip-hop angle, sometimes. In the midst of the game where everybody’s doing trap music, I just feel like my approach is different.
You never bent to trends.
Exactly. Sometimes you get the short end of the stick on the label side when you not really trying to fit in with everybody else.
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What, exactly, happened with Epic?
They didn’t understand what was going on for this second album, and I had more of an opportunity to carry on my own vision and take back creative control and that direct relationship with my fans. I feel like the label stifled my direct connection with my fans. They had me waiting a little too long to drop music, and from them telling me they want this type of records, them telling me “We want hits,” we kind of hit a wall. It’s like, y’all want one thing, but y’all not necessarily helping me get that. And y’all not believing in what the real sound is that I’m trying to portray. I feel like my message, alone, is huge for the world. I feel like my message is big; it’s a positive message that the world needs to hear. When you push a positive message, people try to not give you credit.
What’s the biggest lesson you learned from leaving from the label?
Never losing that connection with the fans. Never letting the machine take away that direct connection with the consumer. Before any label, I already had everything I needed. I had LA on lock. I had my city on my back. A lot of people told me, when I got with a label, it slowed down my process. When I had my own vision, and I believe in myself 100 percent, so it’s like I don’t need anybody to believe in me in order to be successful.
That makes me think of 2015’s “Set It Off,” where you rap, “I am the feature.”
That song was really about what I was going through with the label at the time. I kinda wanted it to be a message on this major album, I’m talking as if I was almost angry. Like “N***a, I don’t need a feature.” The industry, it’s all about name dropping and who you with, and artists rely on that. Me saying that is me saying I stand alone. I’m capable of doing something on my own that’s powerful. That confidence just comes over time of doing music and building up that belief in yourself.
What motivates you now, after over a decade in the game, and considering your career has been through the wringer?
My love for the game. My passion for wanting to be great, my passion to keep wanting to grow and be better. I for sure know I haven’t gotten my just due in this game. I put in a lot of work, but I didn’t get the respect I deserve. I got a certain hunger and drive that’s pushing me to get what I deserve in the game. I feel like people have shown me respect, but I haven’t gotten that credit that I for sure deserve.
Does that drive you crazy, or does that fuel you?
It fuels me! I am confident enough where nothing can drive me crazy. It’s all about being strong mentally. I feel like a lot of people don’t have that strong will. Me? I’ve got so much love, I couldn’t even be mad at the game. The game changed my life. I got blessed! I was able to really live my dream, so I could never be mad at anything.
What did you learn about your worth as an artist after Epic?
The power is in my hands, and it needs to stay in my hands. It started in my hands. I created the power, just by being myself and spreading my message to the people. People feel like I’m saying something real, something true. When you realize the power of words, the power of inspiration… People tell me: “Casey, your music helped me. Your music inspires me.” I feel like that’s what I do it for. Those are the type of compliments that are driving me to keep going and to realize it’s about the music. No budget or no big company can enhance that as much as I can.
What message do you want to send fans who have been riding with you since ‘07?
I wanna say: I appreciate all the love to all the people that have been rocking with me and been involved with this new era of hip-hop. I appreciate all the people that embrace me as an artist. Within the next few weeks, we got a big surprise coming. We goin’ crazy.
Any release dates?
The first single is called “The Ceiling.” We gon’ build the hype up from there. It’s really like an album. It’s a 10 song project that’s all original music that I’ve been working on the whole time I’ve been working on my second album. These songs are super special to me and I feel like in order for me to continue the new chapter, I gotta drop the new music. This music definitely speaks volumes for where I’m at mentally, in my life.