These are the transcripts of an interview with Cassidy. The interview was conducted by The Left Westicle on February 26th, 2004.
MVRemix: So what was it like working with R. Kelly?
I mean, R. Kelly is a legend, so I was looking up to that man before I even thought [of] signing, so itís a blessing.
MVRemix: Nice to have in your first video.
Yeah, yeah, definitely. I mean, what more could you ask for besides R. Kelly in your first video?
MVRemix: [Laughs] For sure. Thatíll get your name out. What do you want to do for your next video?
My next single is called ďThey Donít Get No Better,Ē featuring Mashonda. Sheís another artist on my label, Full Surface. She did a lot of other songs before, but that was on the low. Like, she did a lot of the Eve chorusí before like (singing) ĎI got a man and I think I'm gonna forever.í Yí know.
MVRemix: The single for ďHotelĒ has been up on Billboard at #7 this week and last week. Itís your first single. Do you think itís a good representation of your style?
Definitely. I mean ďHotelĒ did what it was supposed to do. Thatís how I made the song, because I wanted it to be acceptable in the hood, acceptable in the streets, acceptable to the thugs, but still be able to make top 40 radio, still able to bang in the clubs, still be pop, still be MTV. And itís hard to get that win, you know what Iím saying? Itís hard to be MTV and be pop, and be successful and on be on the billboard, and still be acceptable in the hood. Itís hard to do that, but I was able to do that [due] to the fact that I had such a huge underground buzz before the hotel song.
MVRemix: So what I want to talk about is what got you there. The Ďhood credití is the freestyling.
[I was] freestyling from on the streets to on the radio, to on the mix tapes, to on the DVD, you know? Battling thousands of other rappers, you know, just doing my thing.
MVRemix: How important do you think free styling is to getting signed? You always hear the story of someone spittiní on the street, to spittin on the radio, and then someone hears him or her and they get signed. Thatís how it always seems to happen.
Well I donít know about anybody elseís situation, but freestyling is part of being a good artist. Itís like shadow boxing to a boxer; most of the boxers youíll talk to will say, ďYeah, I was just in the gym shadow boxing and training, and then I fought this fight, and it was big for me. Freestyling is something that most cats that want to be rappers, or that are rappers, try to do to sharpen up their skills and stay on point. I definitely think itís important because it makes you better as a rapper. I donít feel that everybody gets on because of that, and everybodyís situation is different. Some people get on because they might know somebody thatís in a good position, some people donít even write their own raps, so you know they cant freestyle if they not even writing their own material. Different people get on for different reasons, but freestyling is definitely important.
MVRemix: If you could battle anyone in the history of rap, who would it be?
Even though I love the art of battling, and I like the whole art of that, and I feel as though itís a good look when cats go at it and battle, right now I donít feel as though itís worth it for me to battle anybody. It's for two cats who are on the same level, and [are] trying to get to the next level; itís the same thing with boxing or basketball. Basketball is a good sport, boxing is a good sport, but I donít feel as though itís too entertaining when itís a lopsided situation, you know, when the competition is not that good. If you got a cat thatís knocking everybody out in the first round, and they ain't getting no competition.
B>No one wants to see Mike Tyson against Butterbean.
It might be exciting in the beginning, but if he keeps on it, theyíll be like ďIím used to this, heís just doing the same thing over and over again.Ē If the Lakers got a crazy basketball team that no one can beat, and theyíre just wining every game, in the beginning it might be a little exciting, but then people gonna get tired of it. Same thing with your battling: if youíre picking on cats on a lower level than you, and you just keep battling and battling, and you accomplish what you want to accomplish, if you keep battling your not gonna get anything out of it. The reason I was battling back in the day is because that was my only outlet. I wasnít in the studio, I wasnít on the radio, I didnít have no way to get my music heard, but battle in the streets, battle on DVD, and thatís how my name was spread. I was getting a reputation and thatís what I needed to do. But now that Iím on that level, and Iím on the radio every five minutes, Iím on the TV constantly, Iím getting pressured to do songs, itís not worth it for me right now to battle a cat because if I win, theyíll be like, ďOh Cassidyís just picking on somebody,Ē and if I donít win as impressively as I won my last battle, like if I beat the last cat in four rounds, and this time it takes me five rounds to beat this guy, theyíll same Iím falling off, I beat this cat in four rounds, but it took him five rounds this time, heís not as good. You canít win; itís like a losing situation.
MVRemix: So youíre taking a break from the free styling, and now youíre hooked up with Swiss BeatzÖ
Now, Iím not going to stop freestyling, and just do that side of it, because I still got outlets to do it. You can spit in the streets without battling a cat, you can spit just to let them hear what you got to say. And the cat that is battling, the respect will follow in your footsteps. You can go on a radio station or to parties and still spit without necessarily battling. If I was to battle someone now, it would have to be in front of a large amount of people, it would have to be on TV or Pay-Per-View or something thatís going to benefit me, or it ainít worth it.
MVRemix: Now that DJs arenít just throwing beats at you and making you freestyle, and now that you have a little more choice, what are you looking for in your beats?
Iím not looking for anything in particular; Iím just looking for a hit. You might get something that sounds weird or different, or new, but that might be the skeleton to the next hit. Thatís how I picked my album. I just let different cats come in with their CDs and I listened to different CDs, and just picked what I liked. Rather that focus on what producer did it, how he did it, whether he sampled it or not, whatever sounds good, we were dropping with it. Thatís how it worked.
MVRemix: Youíre repping Philly. Do you feel as though Philly has a style, or is it more unique?
I donít feel as though Philly has a style. I feel [that in] every area, people feel they have a different style or a certain edge because of their accents. Thatís why they say down southís got a style. I think itís [because] of their accent. West coast got a smooth swagger and swing, thatís why they say they got a style, but I donít feel as though no area got styles. It has to do with the accent and what goes on. I donít think Philly has no particular style, but whatever artist is big in an area, the streets and the little cats that trying to make it and trying to do it, tends to follow in those catsí footsteps. So if Beanie [Siegel] and [I] are the biggest two artists from Philly, weíre gonna have a lot of cats in Philly trying to rhyme like me, and trying to rhyme like Beanie. If OutKast and Lilí Jon is the biggest down in Atlanta, you gonna have a lot of Atlanta artists that sound like them. Snoop is the biggest cat in LA, youíre gonna have a lot of cats in LA thatís trying to rap like him. Whatever state youíre in, [whoever] the big artists [are], a lot of cats is gonna try to follow in their footsteps, and try to do things similar to them. So thatís where [you] tend to hear a lot of similar styles, and similar words, or cats tend to sound the same in certain areas, because everybodyís not original. A lot of cats is not leaders, most cats is followers and there is only a few leaders that can be original and come up with that stuff.
MVRemix: As a whole then, where do you see hip-hop going?
History repeats itself. There was a time when hip-hop was based on lyrics, then it went through a flashy stage, and then it went back to lyrics again. Itís going to always do that. Itís like a cycle. Thatís the reason a lot of good artists get messed up because they donít understand the cycle, they be dropping good music, but at the wrong time. Timing is everything. At different times, depending whatís going on in the world, depending on the weather, depending on a lot of things, people [are] gonna feel different ways so you gotta bring different music to the table thatís going to make people feel good. Thatís why you get a song that might be a good summertime song, but if you drop it in the winter you might not be that successful. Timing is everything.
MVRemix: When you are taking the time to write your lyrics, do you try to put a message in there?
Definitely. Itís not just one message that Iím trying to bring to the table. There [are] a lot of things I want to bring to the table, but I feel as though where a lot of artists make mistakes is they try to bring a message to the table too early. Before they have the respect of the listeners, they try to bring this positive message, and the average person rejects it because most people reject positive stuff. If you try to come at somebody preaching like a minister, theyíre not really trying to hear that. People tend to cling to the negative. Thatís why movies with violence and cursing sell the most, thatís why music with cursing in it sells the most. People tend to cling to the negative. Right now what Iím trying to do is get my fan base, and Iím trying to do songs, and introduce myself and let people know how versatile I am and what I can bring to the table. And then when they grow to like me and understand who I am, then their ears will be wide open and theyíll want to hear what I gonna bring to the table next, and thatís when I can bring some of those issues to the table and it wont go in one ear and out the other. Theyíll really hear the information and soak it in, and understand where Iím coming from. A cat like Jay-Z has a way he can bring a message to the table and people will understand it way better than a new artist could [because] heís already got the listenersí ears. Thatís why the ďHotelĒ song was so successful, because R. Kelly already had the fansí ears, so once they hear R. Kelly was on the song, it was already like, ďDamn, Iím gonna listen to this, because R. Kelly [is] on the song, and he donít make nothing but hits.Ē And then after they started listening to the song for R. Kelly, they got to like me, and know about me, and hear me.
MVRemix: So he saw you coming up. Is there anyone youíre excited about, or would want to work with?
Iím willing to work with anybody. I feel as though I can make a hit with anybody. Iím not particular with any artists I definitely want to work with or anything like that. I am willing to work with anybody.
Iím on a promo tour right now, promoting the album. Then when the album drops Iím supposed to head overseas to London and those surrounding areas because my song is big over there. Weíre supposed to be touring there after the album drops, then I will come back to the US, where I got some promoters I been working with, and thereís some mainstream artists Iím conversating with trying to set up my own tour.
MVRemix: Anything you want to close with?
Split personality in stores March: 16. Itís broken into three categories: you got your conscious category where Iím being positive, addressing serious issues; you got the ladies man category, similar to what you seen in the ďHotelĒ video; and then you go ĎDa problemí category which is the grimy, mix tape, freeway battle style. Itís all on the album. Thereís a little something for everyone. And all my fans I want to thank you for supporting me and holding me down, and if youíre not a fan, I feel as though you should get your hands on some of my music because I feel as though you will become a fan if you listen to my stuff.
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"Freestyling is something that most cats that want to be rappers, or that are rappers, try to do to sharpen up their skills and stay on point. I definitely think itís important because it makes you better as a rapper."