Cashh Keeps Out Of Trouble Upon His Return

Cashh is an artist that is no stranger to the UK rap scene, entering at a time where rap freestyles were done in a single take with 20 mcs waiting to splurge their slick rhymes all in one breath. At first, music wasn’t something that he felt he had to pursue but it became the best form of escapism for him at such a young age. Those who have seen his first Fire in The Booth at age 16 can bear witness to the fact that he has a natural style and flair when expressing himself through rap. Having begun his music career at a young age, he continued to make an impact that is still felt by those that witnessed his rise. 


After spending some time in Jamaica due to unforeseen circumstances, he decided to take the situation into his own hands and rather than seeing it as a loss he turned it into an opportunity to refine his sound and pour into his craft. He has now returned with a renewed hunger to show the world who he is through his music. ‘Trouble’ marks the first release upon his return back to London, with the video bouncing between him in his home, self isolating and burning sage while he scrolls through social media, viewing clips of the Black Lives Matter protests that have been spanning across the world and in the UK. Cashh is an artist that proves to not shy away from using his music as a vehicle to address the social issues present in our society.

Off the back of his new single ‘Trouble’, we had the opportunity to speak with Cashh about what the move to his home country meant for him as an artist and how it has shaped his view on life, his take on current social issues and what he will be bringing to the music scene this year.

Interviewer Blessing Borode

Direction/Stylist Derrick Odafi

Photography Oana Briciu

Photography Assistant Alexandra Lonescu

Grooming Blessing Kambanga

Videography Arenma Ahonsi

Clothing Charlie Constantinou, Military 1st

Special Thanks to Lucid Online, Matilda Sandi & Eleanor Evans

How were you coping during the lockdown period?


I was cool.


To anyone that hasn’t come across you before, how would you describe your music to them?


My sound is cinematic rap.


You did a fire in the booth at 16, what was it that gave you the fire to want to express yourself through rap at a young age?


I feel like it was hunger for a difference because my situation at the time wasn’t rosy and its kind of like I don’t know what's on the other side but I know that I can do this and I’m going to do it to see what’s on the other side because where I am right now is chaotic.


Who were your rap influences growing up? 


Growing up.. It varies at different stages of my life. Off the top of my head I’d say 50 Cent, Lil Wayne, Giggs, I don’t want to say Jay-Z because I feel like he came later on but he came at a point where I was still going, I’m still growing so yeah Jay-Z, Margs Mashtown and Kanye West how can I forget Kanye, J Cole, Kendrick, Drake.


I heard that initially you were aspiring to be a footballer, what was the moment you realised that music was something that you had to properly pursue?


To be fair, the footballer thing it was an inbetween, so it weren’t like I went from trying to be a footballer to being a musician. I was pursuing a football career and then I was caught up in the streets and then from the streets, music. So it wasn’t like from football to music, it was football to the streets, so I’d say knowing that I wanted to pursue music as a career almost just came as an avalanche, even the name Cashtastic, it wasn’t supposed to stick it was just a quick- you know what I mean, its stuff that I did at the time under the name just basically blew up. So I’d say probably, I knew I was serious from early but serious serious I’d say probably my behind bars for Link Up TV. 


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Now the transition has come back around full circle after me spending 5 years in Jamaica. I feel the growth in me as a man, firstly, then as a black man


You came into the scene around 2011/12 how do you think UK music has changed from that time and how do you think your sound fits into that change?


I feel like UK music has changed for the better in some ways and overall, if we’re going on a balanced scale it's changed for the better. I think what’s happening is the songwriting and the structure of songs have become better and the production and certain things like that. Yeah I’d say production and songwriting, before, back in the day we’d spit bars for about twenty minutes non stop, you’re not even breathing now it's kinda like, well if you break that into three different sections, use this line and repeat it four times that's now the chorus, you know what I mean, just putting some structure in it has made a whole difference to UK rap I’d say.


In terms of how my music fits into all of that, I feel like I’m bridging the gap between each of the different genres. For example there are some rappers that you can go to get gassed and listen to gassed up type of music but then they can't take you to a place relating to your pain. I feel like I could give the gassed up stuff but I could also bring you to a place where I’m relating to your pain. Or you might have an artist who, let's say, makes street music like just crud, everyone loves a bit of crud in music sometimes but then they don’t know how to orchestrate themselves on a song for the ladies. I could do both and just ticking all the boxes is a gift and a curse because sometimes people just want to know, when I go to this place I’m getting this but I’m willing to take all of the stones that are being thrown so that whoever is coming after can know that they can be as versatile as they want to be. I feel like the people who put you in a box are the same people that will put that box in the ground when it’s not trendy no more, so for me, there is no box for me to think outside of. 


Talk to me about your transition from Cashtastic to Cashh - what did that change mean for you and your music? 


Well, it was Cashh then it became Cashtastic and now it’s back to Cashh and for those who don’t know my name is Casheif, Cashh comes from just taking -eif off my actual name. I feel like just in life as a full circle Cashtastic was the industry baby, Cashh that was the trendy baby that was who I was coming up as just me being myself, not that when I entered the industry I was being someone else but I entered a new space and I feel like at that point it was trying to appeal to a commercial market and just in terms of where I was, I was a kid. But now the transition has come back around full circle after me spending 5 years in Jamaica I feel like just the growth in me as a man, firstly, then as a black man, just the growth overall I feel like this is a way of me carrying that through. When I look at the accolades that I achieved as Cashtastic I feel yeah sick, I know what to do to top that now because when I bump into people it's like, yo this is sick and that is sick and then I go home and listen to the stuff and if you think that was sick I can’t wait for you to hear.

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How much do you think that experience of living in Jamaica has influenced your approach to life today?


Ah immensely because for one, nothing is for certain, anything can happen at any point. I also have been influenced towards my discipline as a human being because when I wanted to run I couldn’t run, when I wanted to fly, I couldn’t fly and I couldn’t do these things because it wasn’t the time to do them so, in that I had to become comfortable within discipline. So that definitely influenced how I am now on a day to day basis. 


What's been the most challenging part of your journey/career so far?


Being sent back to Jamaica for sure, I think I’ve always known I’ve loved music but I feel like in order to know if someone is really loyal to you, their loyalty has to be tested. You can be bredrins or you can be in a relationship or whatever it is for twenty odd years thinking somebody is loyal, you’ll never know unless that loyalty is tested. That's why when some things happen and it's like, yo I’ve known you my whole life, who are you, you’ve changed, it's like nah you just haven’t seen that side.


I feel like for you to really know the grasp of an artist and their love for music, their love for the art has to be tested. And it was tested in Jamaica, I didn’t even make money from music while I was in Jamaica, I made music everyday while I was in Jamaica so clearly what that said to me was this isn’t a financial thing this is just my love for the art. I have companies and investments that are making me money and making me able to live my life, I wouldn’t even sell my music. So the biggest test was me going to Jamaica because it’s also knowing that I don’t have as many eyes and as many ears as I did prior, while I’m in that situation and not becoming disheartened by that is a big thing, your ego and your pride needs to be put to bed in order for you to be able to stand there, and also paying attention to your craft, I analyse everything, I’m my biggest critic so just going over everything and actually pushing my pen, going to poetry sessions and just hearing how people put their stuff together and learning how to actually write. If you were a footballer, they’d train in order to keep themselves on the game. How do you train as a writer if you’re not reading or if you’re not writing. So these are things that I ended up doing while I was out there. 

Even when you mentioned your influences earlier, they’re the kind of artists that have really studied their craft.


Exactly they’re not just there just like that, they’re doing things to push their pen, whether they’re studying classics and figuring out how this person’s delivering that lyric. I think it's definitely made me pay more attention to getting better continuously and not becoming content where I am.  

Talk to me about your new single ‘Trouble’, what's it about? 


Trouble is a statement, trouble is reality, every action has a reaction, its facts and that's in every aspect of life. Not reacting is also a reaction so just being on your A game and not being tricked out of your position, being intentional with everything you’re doing because you know if I react to certain things, there’s a reaction to me reacting. Is it worth all of that domino effect? When you picture life in that way, it's kept me out of a lot of trouble and it's also gotten me in a lot of trouble. 


In the video for ‘Trouble’ you’ve included clips from the Black Lives Matter protests that have been going on, how important do you think it is to use your music to speak about current situations? 


I feel like music of course is an expression of who the artist is and you really grasp who an artist is when they’re being real to themselves. I’m not someone who indulges in drugs or drinking codeine or lean or any those types of things but when you hear an artist speak about these things, what you do is you know that that’s what they’re on, that is their lifestyle, that's what interests them. Rappers who rap about jewelry and girls, you know that's what they’re on. I feel like me as a person, I can touch on many different subjects while being myself so in terms of it being important to portray it in music, I don’t think every single song should be speaking on it but I feel like there's ways to push that point without really pushing that point. Whether that's, okay, this song is about being in a relationship with a woman or maybe in the video there’s just a poster in the back that says Black Lives Matter or even if I ended the video with different petitions of things that you can sign to support. Even in terms of this conversation we’re having right now, me not shunning away from that is important, I feel like as black people we can’t shy away from a conversation, I don’t think I’ll ever shy away from a conversation about us because not everyone has the answers and I feel like it’s important to know that. A lot of black people are feeling pressure if they don’t know how to answer the questions and there’s a lot of fingers being pointed but I think it's because a lot of people aren’t standing on their own two feet and saying look I’m not sure right now, however I’m going to do my research or how about what’s your thoughts, can you educate me, what can you tell me about what I don’t know? If the biggest object for us here is for us to educate ourselves and push that narrative out, if I don’t know something, rather than bashing me for it, why don’t you just express it to me and now I’ve learnt something.


At the end of the video there's a brief message that basically says there are many forms of protest that people are choosing to use, what's been your form of protest during this time? 


I technically haven’t been out there because of the whole Covid stuff but my form of protest is consciously buying black more, buying black products, supporting black businesses. Also just consciously being aware of what's happening, there’s a lot of stuff that happens behind the scenes and I don’t think it's something that needs to be over exaggerated on social media, like I said if the main important thing is what you’re doing you don’t need to spread to people what you’re doing but you do need to have some sort of recognition to let people know that yeah, I’m with you. With me I think it's just enhancing my consciousness and not shying away from having conversations, educating myself, passin that education on, signing petitions, finding out what you can do actively, and figuring out how to step forward as one. That’s my little two pence that I’m doing and it will increase but everyday I’m black so everyday I feel that it’s an objective for me to push that narrative in some sort of way, whether that's speaking to my daughter and making her repeat lines after me.


The video was also directed by you, is this the first one of your projects that you’ve directed yourself?


It isn’t but what’s happened is I’ve realised, if the most important thing is to shoot the video, make it nice and get the video out I’ve basically been doing it this whole time, I was just never taking credit for it. So with this one, the reason why I put it there as well is because there were three attempts to shoot trouble and I honestly feel like it happened that way for a reason. The first attempt  was prior to George Floyd’s death and the first video treatment was going to be nothing like this one, then we attempted again, didn’t like it. And then the third one I was like let me actually write the script, let me figure out exactly what I want in this video because the song was already due to come out the same week actually, it just didn’t feel right for me to release music. And I feel like especially as black artists, its not for us to sit around and wait for this to die down to then release, we have to work around what’s happening, we shouldn’t want this to die down in terms of us speaking out. So for me it like okay cool because this is my occupation, how do I still work while still supporting the cause let me make sure that I paint a picture around what's happening right now so that I can simultaneously do both things.

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Non stop singles, non stop releases, we’re active, we’re not taking any pauses, we’re independent. We’re doing this by ourselves so just being as frequent with our releases as possible.


Will you be doing some more directing as well?


Yeah for sure, I’m pretty hands on with most things that I do and I actually have a delegation problem because I just want to make sure things are how I picture them in my mind but yeah for sure I think I’ll actively be doing more directing.


What other things are you looking to explore in your music both sonically and behind the scenes? 


In Jamaica I started exploring more in terms of the producing side of stuff, so a lot of my records coming out and a lot of them that are already out as well, I produced. But again, similar to the directing thing, I’m never like produced by Cashh so you won’t know who’s produced it. I’m going to give myself flowers a lot more now, I’m not going to wait for them to be given to me. I think melodically, Jamaica kind of just does that to you, there are a lot of melodies that are in my songs and in terms of songwriting as well, different subject matters and yeah just pushing my pen, staying hungry and testing different fields but making sure that any field I’m testing I’m still being me.

What more can we expect from you this year?


Non stop singles, non stop releases, we’re active, we’re not taking any pauses, we’re independent. We’re doing this by ourselves so just being as frequent with our releases as possible and when I say consistency, not on a quantity over quality situation because that happens a lot, you might be dropping bare music but the quality isn’t the same. When I say consistency I’m speaking about in terms of the level that I’m keeping the stuff at as well. We’ve already shot the video for the next follow up to ‘Trouble’ so I’m ready to go and I’m going to keep doing it then hopefully, toward the last quarter of the year I’m going to drop the return mixtape, the highly anticipated. I’m excited to put that out.


Any collaborations to look out for?


The next single is a collaboration that I will speak about off the record. But yeah the next release, I’m calling it for whatever summer 2020 we have, it's going to be a summer 2020 song.


What do you do outside of music that keeps you grounded during tough times?


Read, listen to music. I feel like I don’t do enough outside of music that’s why I’m struggling to think, it's all music related really and truly. But yeah I’d say reading, I love films, so watching a lot of films and documentaries.


What’s your go-to film?

It depends on my mood. Theres classics obviously, your Boyz In The Hood, Menace to Society, Belly, Set It Off just movies that we grew up on. It depends on the mood I’m in.


What mantras do you live by?


A few. My latest one that I’m going to share today is prioritise direction over speed, that I feel like is very important to tell myself everyday because in the social media era and just looking at everyone else’s speed that they’re at, you think you’re going slow it don’t matter if you’re going slow, if I walk to West End and you’re driving to West End, you’ll get there faster as long as I’m heading to West End I will get there eventually and I feel like it’s important to have that in your mind everyday whether that’s you working on a business venture, whether that's you trying to go through school, whatever it is. Regardless of how I feel today, as long as today I’m heading in the direction then I’m good with that.


What's one thing that not many people know about you?  


I have a lot of conversations with myself, I’ve probably had more conversations with myself than I do with people to be honest with you. 


Who have you been listening to recently? 


Recently I’ve been listening to Jords, shouts out to Jords, he’s got a project out right now. Unknown T, shouts out to Unknown T, Teyana Tayler, really loving her. Burna, I’ve been listening to Wiz, I’m trying to not answer in terms of people I like.

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