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Cassidy: Friend vs. Foe

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The beauty of life is the multiple chances it offers. Philadelphia rapper Cassidy has had plenty, and he’s not taking any of them for granted. Over the last couple of years the 25 year old, who first gained notoriety after an infamous freestyle showdown with Freeway, has seen his career go through more drama than the DJ. In the Spring of 2005 he was riding high thanks to his Swizz Beatz produced, smash single “I’m A Hustla,” the perfect set up cut for his sophomore re-up I’m A Hustla. But two weeks before the album’s release in June, 2005 all momentum abruptly ceased when Cassidy turned himself in to authorities amidst an incident that left a man dead and charges that initially included first degree murder. Bail was denied and though Cassidy would beat the murder rap, he wouldn’t be released from prison until March 2006.Back on the town and recording, hard luck hit again when on the way to a recording session in October 2006, Cassidy received  injuries including a cracked skull after the vehicle he was traveling in was struck by a truck. Fortunately, his wounds have healed and citing a newfound spiritual drive—no, he’s not pulling a Mase—and maturity thanks to the trials of his past two years, Cassidy is readying his next album, B.A.R.S., for a fall release. But before doing so the at least twice blessed MC is releasing a mixtape on July 7, 2007 to satiate fans wondering where he’s been. AllHipHop caught up with the Full Surface/J Records artists to check in on the odds that his new album will get his career back on track. AllHipHop.com: The album was originally called It Is What It Is, why the switch to B.A.R.S.?Cassidy: That was one of the names I was thinking about calling it, but I don’t like that name. I’ve always been the person that was known for spittin’ bars. I always been famous for coming with hot punchlines and a lot of bars. And I just did time behind bars when I was in for the murder case. That was a pretty good title to use. Plus, it’s short for Barry Adrian Reese Story—my name is Barry Adrian Reese.AllHipHop.com: On previous projects, you’ve given glimpses of your past, but is the B.A.R.S. album more personal than the last two?Cassidy: Exactly, and that’s why I named it after my biological name. Because it don’t got nothing to do with Cassidy, the Hustla, the Problem, ya know, all that’s like characters that were developed after I got in the business. But Barry Reese is the person that I really am even when I’m not doing music. When you go to jail, that’s what they call me, Barry Reese. My first album was called Split Personality to let you know that I had multiple personalities—The Problem, Cassidy and Barry Reese. “The Problem” was supposed to get a chance to do the album [but on] my second album “The Hustla” buried “The Problem” in the beginning of the album and “The Hustla” won, so “The Hustla” got a chance to do that album instead of “The Problem.” That’s why the album was called I’m A Hustla. So this album is reflecting another side of my personality, the more serious side. So that’s why I’m calling it B.A.R.S. My fourth album, Lord willing, will probably be called Cassidy, self-titled. I feel as though everybody got many personalities. You’re not mad all the time, you’re not sad all the time, you’re not happy all the time. Everybody switches and get in different moods, so that’s what I wanted to bring to the table. I’ma bring different songs to the table but one personality might got [sic] the majority of the album. AllHipHop.com: You were able to beat the murder charge against you, but before that happened, were you prepared for the worst? Cassidy: I was sitting in jail, so I was getting prepared even if I ain’t want to get prepared. I got faith in the Lord, and I felt as though he was going to pull me through the situation. But, you always going to have your [doubts], you don’t know how it’s going, it’s not looking good. I thought I was going to get bail and get out after a week or two. The trial, they kept it first degree murder, they was denying my bail, it was a lot more people coming up and making statements—it wasn’t looking as good as it was looking in the beginning. Even though it wasn’t looking good from the beginning. At the end of the day I just kept my faith, just stayed in my Bible, stayed prayed up and just humbled myself a little bit and tried to learn from it. I was trying to learn from it and realize the reasons why I was going through it. At the end of the day, I definitely felt as though it might have been a chance I could not get out. That’s with anybody, whether you was guilty or innocent, it’s a chance you can go home or stay. That was always in the back of my mind, but through the grace of God, I’m here now. AllHipHop.com: Then, you start working on the third album and the accident happens, were you thinking, “Maybe my luck has ran out…”Cassidy: I don’t believe in luck, I believe in God. I don’t believe God blesses you with things for nothing, you’re blessed with those things for a reason. I believe that to the outside world, it might seem like it was my lowest point but I feel as though it was my highest point. In a short period of time, in less than two years, I was able to mature more than a person that done spent 30, 40 years in the street. While I was going through it, it was seeming like it was a negative situation, but now that I came out of it, it was beneficial. Not saying that I would want to go through anything like that again, but I learned so much from it, and it made me into the person that I am now and I wouldn’t want to go back to the person that I used to be, ’cause I love the person that I am now. AllHipHop.com: Were you this spiritual before the incidents?Cassidy: I always believed in God my whole life but when I went to jail, I read The Bible from cover to cover. I used to sit down with a lot of my Muslim brothers and have a lot of good, deep conversations. I realized first hand that the money, the stardom, the fame, no matter what you did none of that could get you out those situations but God. I was able to better my relationship with Him, understand Him a little bit more from being in a serious situation like that. I almost lost my life twice. I almost gave my life up to the system and then I almost lost my life in the car accident. AlllHipHop.com: Due to the nature of the charges your were facing and convicted of, is that going to alter your lyrical content?Cassidy: There’s no reason for me to really alter my content. I don’t feel as though I’m guilty of anything or have a reason to switch my pitch or change the things that I talk about. The gun talk and the things that I was talking about in my music is things that I actually live. People will say I used to go to a range two or three times a week to bust my guns off. N***as around me, whether they legally carried guns or whether they was illegally carrying guns just ’cause they was getting it in in the streets, that’s what I grew up around. When I was 10, 11 years old riding around in the car with my god brother, he was carrying around Tech-nines and ounces of work bagged up, back when they used bag it up in vials. I just grew up around it, so that’s all I know, so that’s why I’m able to talk it. But at the same time, I bring positive things to the table too ’cause it’s like that in the world. It’s not all positive. If you come all positive then the people living the negative life gon’ block you out because they don’t feel as though you can relate to them. Then if you come all negative, the people that living the positive lifestyle is going to block you out because they feel as though you don’t understand them. So that’s why you gotta try to blend and get the best of both worlds, similar to what Tupac did. He’d come on like, “First off,  f**k your bitch and the click you claim.” [opening line to "Hit ‘Em Up"], but then go “Dear Mama” or “Keep Your Head Up.”My story, and the reason why n***as respect me, is ’cause I admit my s**t is based on a true story – just like a movie is based on a true story. Sometimes they add things and take things away that make it more interesting. Because if they put it exactly like it happened, it would be boring. That’s the same thing I do with my lyrics, some things I take away because I can’t say it, some things I add because it’ll make it sound crazier. But n***as know that it’s based on a true story and I’m talking about things that I actually experienced, I actually seen, so that’s why it’s so real to n***as. AllHipHop.com: How much of B.A.R.S. is material from before the car accident?Cassidy: I recorded a lot of the album before I got in the accident. I actually was mixing some of the records and working on features and things like that. Once I went through the accident, I had to take a break for a long period of time so I didn’t want to come with the same songs that I had from before because I had so much more to talk about. I pretty much went in and did a whole ‘nother album. AllHipHop.com: Is Swizz handling the majority of the album’s production?Cassidy: Nah, I love Swizz, Swizz is the best that ever did it, but he working on his album [One Man Band] right now and he working on everybody else. I wanted to mature and put [my] project together on my own. I had Swizz writing a lot of my hooks and making a lot of my beats on past albums, but I wanted to do a lot of that on my own because I got the talent to do it and I got the ability. Plus, Swizz was wild busy and I wanted to take the responsibility in my own hands. Swizz did do a lot of stuff. On the album you’ll probably hear three or four songs from Swizz.I got over 50 songs, so I’m still gonna narrow it down and figure out which songs is going to make the album so I can’t really tell you which [other] producers is going to make the album cause I’m not sure yet. But you know I got Neo Da Matrix, he’s my right hand man. I got Bink!, I got Hi-Tek, I worked with Cool & Dre, I worked with Scott Storch, I worked with Timbaland, I worked with Dre & Vidal, I worked with Rockwilder, I worked with pretty much everybody. Before I would just work with Swizz and Neo, and everybody else would just give their beats to Swizz and Swizz would bring the beat to me. I would never have a real personal relationship with too many producers. But now I’m trying to develop my relationships and grow because I’m putting my situation together for my artists and things like that in the future. It takes a lot of pressure off of Swizz, so Swizz can just focus on giving me the hits like he always do and then focus on the other things he gotta do. It’s better for both of us.  AllHipHop.com: Why did you decided to drop the mixtape on 7-7-07, besides it being your birthday?Cassidy: [Laughs] I mean look, it’s O-7, O-7, O-7. That’s like, classical right there. It’s definitely a special birthday so I wanted to just celebrate, but instead of getting a gift and being selfish, I’d rather give a gift. So I’m giving out seven exclusive songs because the streets need it. I’m not making you buy it, I’m not making you go through a bunch of trials and tribulations to get it, I’m just giving it to you. Take this and listen to it and the street’s dying for it, they need something to listen to. Not only that, it’ll also get me back in the game, get my voice heard, and let people know that I’m back doing my things so they can get prepared for this brilliant album I’m about to drop. 

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