The Break Presents: Casanova
Move over fake rappers because Casanova is out to prove he's the real deal. The Brooklyn, N.Y. native (Flatbush to be exact) isn't faking the funk when it comes to his reality; he prides himself on being authentic and serving lyrics based on real life events rather than fabrication.
While a life full of crime is now behind him (he did three prison bids before he decided to stop as a result of getting locked up for a robbery he didn't commit), Cas speaks from experience. According to the rapper, he's got a long story to tell.
"I could take you to Comstock yard, I could take you to Elmira yard, I could take you to being in the hole for 32 months and getting your tray kicked to you, I could take you to being happy that I'm home with my kids, I could take you to getting money, I could take you to robbing, I could take you to selling drugs. I could take you wherever," he tells XXL. "And real life stories. It's not made up."
The self-proclaimed good guy turned over a new leaf not too long ago. After trying his hand at a construction job his sister hooked him up with after getting out of prison, Casanova realized manual labor was not his thing and began dabbling in recording music last year. Yes, he hasn't even been rapping for a full 12 months. To his surprise, the songs he created were not only good to his ears but to others as well.
Case in point: "Don't Run." The rattling track, which earned him a record deal with Memphis Bleek's Warehouse Music Group under Roc Nation, is inspired by the timepiece most rappers wear as a status symbol.
"I was in the love with the beat," he shares. "I just heard it, it was hard. I didn't know what I wanted to say. I started thinking about my watch. 'Cause the first thing you do when you get money in the street, you get a watch. Thats like a man's trophy. I just started thinking, somebody start to rob me for my watch I'm not with it."
Once he released the song in June of 2016 and its accompanying video, it spread throughout New York City like wildfire. That's when Casanova knew he had to take rap seriously. Despite having a limited catalog of music (he has no mixtapes to his name and a handful of songs out), he's been able to thrive just off the popularity of "Don't Run." Now some of the biggest names in the game are showing him support. He's logged studio time with Chris Brown, A$AP Rocky and him go way back and Wyclef recently welcomed him to take the stage at a Brooklyn show. For a guy who hasn't been rapping long, he's got a a solid team behind him.
With 2017 ahead, Casanova is focused on crafting his debut project and delivering the remix to "Don't Run," which is set to feature some of New York City's finest including Young M.A, Dave East, Don Q, Jadakiss, Busta Rhymes, Fabolous and Remy Ma. "I'm blessed 'cause this wasn't part of the plan," Cas admits. "If you see me jumpin' up, just know I'm jumpin' for joy."
Get to know more about Casanova's story including the New York rapper's footsteps he plans to follow and his goals in the game.
Hometown: Flatbush, Brooklyn, N.Y.
I grew up listening to: "DMX. Jay Z. Beanie Sigel. DMX is me. He's me. He's like, back then, everything he said was really true. He wasn't fabricatin' nothing. That's just me. I'm just gonna be truthful in my raps. I'm not gonna give you what you want to hear. I'm just gonna give it to you how I'm gonna say it. This is what you get, me. That's what DMX gave me. He cried. He was so into praying. That's what I do. I pray. Even in jail, that's what I used to do just pray. Like, Ah, another day. Come back in my cell. Thank god. I love DMX."
My style’s been compared to: "I get a lot of 50 Cent. DMX. They even said Uncle Murda. We both Panamanian too. I guess it's because we kinda forward. I ain't into dissing a lot of people. He's crazy with it. They said Ja Rule too, cause I got a song kinda singing. It's cool because I don't 'posed to be here. That's how i feel. Me Sounding like anybody is a blessing. All these dudes been rapping their whole life. I just started rapping but I'm my own person."
Most people don’t know: "How to steal cars. Probably like a minute-and-a-half [to steal one]. That's behind me. I don't need to steal cars now."
My standout records to date have been: "'Don't Run.' I feel like it connects because more men, every man if you ask them, a watch is getting money. An artist, anybody, any watch, an Apple Watch, nobody's trying to lose it. Even if you're not a tough guy it gives you an opportunity to stand for something. I see dudes that I know ain't shooting nobody going crazy to it. [Raps] 'They ain't know I had the glock.' I think 'Don't Run' really makes you feel in tuned."
"I got a couple of songs in the cut. I'm just waiting to see what the label wants to do because they very picky sometimes. They control your music, they control your life. I didn't know that. That was like in the fine print [laughs]. I went the other day. I was like, 'I just wanna drop this song.' Uh, uh, uh. [They said], ''Don't Run' is still brand new. We gon' make it go national. Just ease yourself. We know what we talking about.' They know better than me. They been doing this for years. I'm just waiting for my moment."
My standout moments to date have been: "One standout moment was [Power 105.1's] Powerhouse. I was supposed to go out [onstage] with Tory Lanez. My manager didn't have my flash drive. I'm standing with the mic and Tory Lanez looking like why they ain't playing my record. I'm so mad. I wanna fight. I wanna kick. I wanna beat somebody up, but I just kept cool. He went to the DJ, forget it, just play a song.
"You know when they have a change of song. So both of us being rookies we thought the mic was on. I grabbed the mic, tap, tap, tap, it don't work. So I ran out onstage. So I start performing my song and people really think I'm performing, but I'm not. I don't have no mic. The crowd screams when they heard the drop of 'Don't Run.'
"People sent me videos of me performing, asking why I stopped my performance but they didn't know I snuck onstage. Net week Charlamagne put it up, 'Casanova finessed his way onstage.' Kay Slay hit us up for Shade 45 to talk about it. Charlamagne said, 'This guy's a legend.' It's about passion now. I just wanna perform. I just wanna do it."
My goal in hip-hop is: "To put a dent in it. At first it was like I was thinking I just wanna get rich. But after start seeing people really coming up to you like, 'When's the next song coming out? Can I get a picture?' You kinda get a feeling for it. Now, in my studio, instead of staying there three or four hours, I wanna stay in there for 10. I wanna get it done right 'cause the fans, they want it. You really don't know you got fans until you see the fans.
"We were backstage [at a show] and i see people sneaking pictures of me. I'm like, 'You don't gotta do that. I'm a good guy. Come on.' I'm like people really scared of me. I'm not a beast at all [laughs]."
I’m going to be the next: "I'ma be the next 50 Cent. I haven't seen him get bullied, you know. I know nobody's never gonna bully me. And I'm gonna piss a lotta people off in this industry. I could see me doing everything he did and succeeding. I believe that I'm something these certain rappers are not. I'm not into being a groupie, you know. I'm not getting this dude number to ask for a feature.
"I'm seeing these dudes and just giving them the regular head nod. I don't want a million pictures. I'm just cut from a different cloth. You get some of these rappers, they want you to come up to them. I'm not. It makes an enemy without you even knowing you got an enemy because they like, 'Who he think he is? Why he think that he don't gotta come and salute me?' I don't have no problem with them but sometimes you might reach your hand to somebody and spit in it. So instead, me being the gangsta that I am, crossing that line I just keep it like that and I know it's gonna piss people off.
"And people are mad. Just like they mad at Lil Yachty, they gon' be mad at me because you really got people that work they whole life to get where they at. And for me, it didn't take that long so of course I would be mad too. You have a right to be mad. It's like I used the cheat code. I'm a chamillionaire. I'm gonna sing, rap, do pop, do everything and I'm gonna have these dudes like, 'Look at him. He just messing up the code.'" I'm doing everything to sell my brand."
Follow Casanova on Twitter and SoundCloud.
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