The Miseducation of Cassidy: How the Hustla Lost His Edge

I don’t really know anyone who’s planning on copping Cassidy’s fourth studio album, C.A.S.H., which stands for either “Cass a Straight Hustla” or “Cass Always Stays Hard.” I don’t think it matters either way.

If I told you eight years ago that I wasn’t looking forward to a Cassidy album, you would smack me harder than Carmelo did Mardy Collins in Madison Square Garden a few years ago. Fast-forward to today, though, and you would probably retreat the same way Carmelo did, after he backpedaled for his life back to the Denver bench.

What I’m trying to say is, Cassidy could have been a contender. He was primed for superstardom, and he came awfully close. Now, he’s just a talented rapper milling about on the outskirts of hip-hop.

Memory lane provides all the answers. Before Cass made his major label debut, he was known throughout Philly as an incredible freestyler, battler, and uh, hustler. Then, came his tete a tete with Freeway. Fortunately for Cass and probably unfortunately for Freeway, the verbal tussle was taped and released to the public. Cassidy instantly became a commodity. People were hyped. And remember, this was when battling was peaking. 106 & Park, Scribble Jam, and Smack DVDs were all the rage. (Respect to Freeway for battling someone less known: most rappers don’t want to battle anyone if there’s too much at stake).

With Swizz at the helm, people were salivating for Tha Hustla’s debut. Split Personality was the album to cop. And then, much in the way that Jin’s career was completely derailed by his awful lead single, Cassidy released “Hotel,” featuring R Kelly.  He then followed that with “Get No Better.”  Two sugary R&B pop radio-friendly records.

Before I state the obvious, think about this for a second. Split Personality was Cassidy’s major label debut, which means, in marketing dollar talk, that this would be his introduction to the national mainstream, aka MTV, radio stations, and casual hip-hop fans.

“Girl you wanna come to my hotel/Baby, I will give you my room key…”

That Kellz chorus was essentially Cassidy’s intro to the mainstream hip-hop world. Sure the song was a hit, but it was blood money. Split Personality went gold, but which 500,000 fans bought his album? Anyone from Philly? Smack DVD fans? I doubt it.

Even if you want to argue that Split Personality had some nice tracks, half the album was R&B pop. And even though a single is but just one record in an album, it represents the artist and leaves an impression, even to the hardcore rap fan. When pre-2002 Cassidy fans saw him neckin’ with Vida Guerra in the elevator for the “Get No Better” video, it made an imprint. It made fans wonder if this was the same dude who had this to say to Freeway:

”And it look like B, ahead of the rest/Cuz every verse you get pissed on like pregnancy tests/If the pipe your habit, then holler, I’ll price n’ bag it/Get powdered every hour like diaper rashes.”

Followed by:

“I need psychiatrics to strap me down, I got a track record ask around/I’ll snatch a clown, pat him down, take his cheese, then leave/And come back around, and do it twice/You see me and my back is down, I’m shootin’ dice.”

Freeway was so moved by Cassidy’s words that he refused to respond, instead muttering the now infamous, “Put a beat on… Put a beat on.”

After the album came out, reviews were mediocre at best, and Cassidy squandered much of his cred. Then came “I’m A Hustla.”  This was the perfect Cassidy track, in that it was hard, catchy, and had a Jigga sample in the chorus. Problem was, it was too late. Cassidy’s name was already tarnished by money-hungry marketing executives, who had incorrectly steered him into the green murky waters of syrupy sugar cane radio-ready R&B records. “B-Boy Stance” was a good second single as well. Too bad it was also too late.

Not all of the blame goes to his first album. Consider a rapper who catches a murder charge, jail time, and a near-death experience in a car crash, followed by a lengthy stay in a hospital. Said rapper has enough subject material to release the album of his or her life. Again, Cassidy had an opening. Unfortunately, B.A.R.S. disappointed.

The Apply Pressure series, as well as the linking with Carmelo’s Kross Over label garnered some buzz for the baby-faced hustler, but it’s still a far cry from his Freeway battle days. That makes me wonder: A Freeway/Cassidy rematch. It would help both guys’ careers, and remind people why Cassidy had so much hype to begin with.

Cassidy is maddening like that. So much talent and promise, but still no crown. C.A.S.H. is coming, but I doubt it will be king. What do y’all think? —Shlomo

  • Funeral

    Sounds like another hating ass nigga to me i tell you what when you make as much money then you have the right to insult someone now go kill yourself

  • http://www.drankanddank.blogspot.com www.drankanddank.blogspot.com

    While you mention Swizz, I think Cassidy and his relationship bears more examination. How much of Swiiz’s decision was it that “half the album was R&B pop?” Remember he executive produced the album, and I guarantee that Cas wasn’t going to argue with Swizz.

  • cmoney85

    how the hell u callin someone a hater. Cassidy money isn’t urs , mines or the writers. no one cares about the bread its all going off of how this nigga could still be a respected name going down as one of the best. True enough Cassidy went from ” man fuck that , he will get anyone otta there”,to ” O yeah thats right he did used to rap”. By the way B.A.R.S. was trash

  • LdNSE15

    Cass was that nigga awhile ago..Now, I didn’t even know he has an album coming out..

    He just didn’t manage to stay relevant..The R&B/Pop songs hit him hard but the fact that in 90% of his songs he’s using the same rhyme scheme and saying the same old shit didn’t help either.

    Shame. Dude had potential.

    • yoprince

      “The R&B/Pop songs hit him hard but the fact that in 90% of his songs he’s using the same rhyme scheme and saying the same old shit didn’t help either.”

      basically.

  • M. Baby!

    Cassidy is still that dude. It’s not his fault, you gotta sell records, point blank. If he would’ve kept it real, he wouldn’t have lasted that long. I agree, he used the same rhyme scheme and flow but who doesn’t do that. Drake clearly does it every single time but he’s selling. We’re getting too personal with this music shit. Hov said it best, “It’s only Entertainment…” We all thought it was about being hard and staying tru, but it’s always been about the money and Entertainment. I would love for real Hip-Hop to come back strong, but it won’t. Times have changed…unless WE go out and support real Hip-Hop rappers then it won’t come back. As long as the internet is still around, it won’t. You gotta Entertain, point blank. You see Drake, Nicki Minaj, Kanye West…they are all Entertaining. Go ahead and keep it real while the rest get money and ya’ll sit back and wonder why ur not on.

  • Dead President

    Shlomo, sounded from the drop u hatin. We know cass does fuck it up wen he drops albums, couple cool tracks n the rest – urrgghh (thanx 2 the executives mostly), but he still a FIRE breathing freestyler. Who gives a fuck really let cass do his mothafukkin thing, coz he lettin u do ur thing 2. Please think of something better 2 write about i checked this out coz i thought there’d be something constructive to read bout cass. But no.

  • Sincere

    good article.. niggas really need to look up the meaning of hate.

  • Kanyuki

    Great article.. I have always been a fan of Cassidy. I know he fucked up with that Split Personality. I remember when the “I’m A Hustla” record just dropped I was bumping that shit like crazy.. track was my pre summer anthem.. but then dude caught the murder case and then the amnesia from the car accident. All that didn’t help Cassidy’s career at all. And to be honest I think his lyrical game ain’t as nice at it used to be.

  • black jesus

    i would really like to see another freeway/cassidy battle. i think free said recently that hes down for a rematch.

    freeway always gets a bad rap for that battle, when cass didnt destroy him like everyone says. they went back and forth for like 10 minutes before free ran out of material, and it was a pretty close battle.

    and i agree that lyrically cass fell the fuck off. in the last 4 years, if youve heard one cassidy verse, youve heard them all.

  • jadrianww

    Really good article. I actually didn’t know about Cassidy pre-Hotel and when he came out with “I’m A Hustla” i was confused. I think the murder charge and car accident also pushed back him making another major-label album and right now, no1 is checking for the kind of music that cassidy makes. hip-hop has found it’s feminine side; it’s softer, and cass along with people like DMX who’s trying to make a comback, don’t fit in

  • Pete_the_freak

    Cassidy= the NBA version of steve francis and the boxing’s version of zab super judah.

  • G-Dope

    He’s a raw dude, but his rhymes are still sameframe, If he keeps using the same rhymes in different songs. ppl who listen start catchin on and its not as Hard as it realy is. Hes been out the game awhile and im sure he hasnt been jus sitting round. YOUR FORGETING its Cass the mass. He probly jus doin his own thing. Give him this album before you start talkin shit. I dont see any of youse posting on the forum sayin hes shit own any albums get a 500,000 hit on a single.

  • http://www.bboycult.com Don mcCaine

    “no1 is checking for the kind of music that cassidy makes. hip-hop has found it’s feminine side; it’s softer, and cass along with people like DMX who’s trying to make a comback, don’t fit in”

    ^ feminine side? so Waka, Pill, KRIT, Vado, Pusha T spit feminine rap? LOL Joell Ortiz? Lloyd Banks? wow

    Hip Hop & mainstream rap are 2 different things. Learn the difference.

  • http://youtube.com/eniyi04 Niyemortal

    To the Poster of the article:

    You hit the nail right on the head. And im not hating at all. Listening to Cassidy literally made me go back to the lab and re-write my shit back in the day. I had all 10 minute freestyles and shit in my Ipod and i would listen to it over and over because he was so ill with it, but the article is right. Cass has or had that potential but he really hasnt gotten to that level yet of superstar. I still got hope for him. Cass needs to work on his songwriting and hooks. in fact, him and Lloyd Banks was in the EXACT SAME BOAT before. i remember having the Cassidy vs Lloyd Banks mixtapes from back 03-04. Banks got way better songwriting now and he has an incredible buzz, so i have faith that Cass can get to that level as well.

    • yoprince

      no shit, i remember that mixtape. good one.

  • Anonymous

    Hindsight is 20/20, I think Cass being so saw and being signed to J Records (an R&B label) set him up for failure. They didn’t know how to push street records, and Swizz didn’t make it clear to the execs the kind of project Cass fans expected.

  • LEEK

    Hindsight is 20/20, I think Cass being so saw and being signed to J Records (an R&B label) set him up for failure. They didn’t know how to push street records, and Swizz didn’t make it clear to the execs the kind of project Cass fans expected.

  • Joedirt

    Man Cassidy aint who he says he is on record. That nigga aint no hutsle. Hes from down the street where i live and the shit is sweet. Im tired of all these fake gangstas

  • http://www.candidbackshots.com Candid BACKshotS

    Honestly Cassidy is super talented. But he does use the same pattern/style every verse and those times when he attempted to switch up or do a double time rap it dont really sound good. Even so I think he is one of the games most gifted lyricists. He punch lines and timing are superb.

  • Q461

    Cassidy just didnt make it. It happens, this is hip-hop. We recycle our artists fast. If you dont have what it takes to maintain longevity, someone will come and take your spot dumb quick. Cassidy did have potential, but yeah I didnt even know dude was droppin an album. I’m a Hustla was my joint too, but this shit is commonplace in rap yall. Look at Papoose… homey was on the comeup, and ALMOST made it , but he slipped and now him and Cassidy are almost like peers. They started being popular and then just fell off. At least Cassidy put out a few albums though. Papoose had about 30 mixtapes but made the mistake of letting Kay Slay manage him. Oh well.

  • oskamadison

    Dude was alright but I always thought he was overrated. He was lucky it was Freeway he battled ’cause if it would have been Beanie, that would have been a whole different story. Hell, on the low, Young Chris probably would have chipped him up a little bit.

  • John Cochran

    Good Look for this post, being a Philly nigga myself I was a crazy fan of Cass. But, just like Jada, he can’t make an album. They tried to take advantage of the fact that unlike, every member of double r, he didnt look like an ex con. It backfired hard cause he abandoned his core. At least we got Meek Millz up next, i dont see him doing no chick songgs no time soon. Philly Stand Up, New York Mike’s coming for you.

  • http://craig.drive@gmail.com burnblue

    B.A.R.S. was great.. the lead single was one of the weakest tracks. Innocent Man is an epic song

  • Pingback: Daily Recap – 11/16/10 at SNICKA

  • Pingback: Rap Round Table, Weeks Ending 11/26/2010

  • YHB

    you act like cass never put out a mixtape. listen to his mixtapes and tell me cassidy still isnt one of the best mcs out

  • P. Harris

    I agree with you on this one…

    I call it the “Canibus” Effect…

    Won’t ever recover from the 1st album

  • Tyler

    Battle rappers never make it big

  • http://www.aol.com marylandballer

    lebron jame is sick

  • http://robcypher.livejournal.com Rob Cypher

    Looks like he won’t be releasing any more albums for a while…he’s a suspect in a murder (AGAIN) and two attempted murders as well. They arrested him for violating parole but that’s just a formality before they press charges on him for at least one of those cases.