On June 8, 2005, it appeared that all remnants of 23-year-old Cassidy’s life – the recording artist and a free man – was a decrepit thing of the past. A warrant was issued for the Philadelphia rapper due to his involvement in the murder of a 22-year-old man during an April 15, 2005 shooting in his hometown. The case, which was wrought with twists, turns and contradiction, played out like an episode of Law & Order.
But this murder case was real life for Cassidy, a father of one named Barry Reese. At the time of his arrest, he had the streets ablaze with his song “I’m A Hustla,” but the album of the same name languished during his months-long in the Curran-Fromhold Correctional Facility. The rapper dodged a grave murder charge, but was convicted on possession of an instrument of crime, involuntary manslaughter and aggravated assault.
Unlike the other man, Barry Reese’s life didn’t end in any form. And the rapper is back, having after serving his time. The Philly native spoke eloquently about the changes he’s undergone since jail, the tragic loss of life, the state of Hip-Hop and how urban America can get it together.
AllHipHop.com: Was the jail-time a hindrance to the last album?
Cassidy: Without a question. It dropped when I was already in jail. I didnt get a chance to perform none of the songs, do a promotional tour, none of that. I didnt get a chance to shoot anymore videos, it really hindered it. At the same time, it benefited me as a person, so Im happy I went through it.
AllHipHop.com: How did it benefit you as a person?
Cassidy: Im more patient, humble. Ive got a better relationship with God and my family. I know my real friends. I just learned so much from it. I was able to clear my mind up not drink and smoke and party and not deal with the business every day. I was able to think get my priorities together. I came to the conclusion of where I wanna go and the type of artist I wanna be.
AllHipHop.com: A lot of people considered you to be a Pop rapper. The last album cleared that up a little bit. Are you going to talk about this jail situation?
Cassidy: Ive never been a Pop artist. I started my career doing mixtapes, bitin n***as heads off battlin in the streets. I never was a Pop artist. But when I came out and signed to J Records, they wanted me to do Top 40 records. It was they decision to bring out Hotel and Get No Better, which was when the world first met me my first big look. Thats why they think I was a Poppy-type artist. So the second time around, they wanted to set it straight. Thats why they dropped two hard singles like Im A Hustla and B-Boy Stance, so we went all the way left. The first album was all the way right. The second album was all the way left. The third time, we learned so much from them two albums, we gonna land right in the middle the way we should of did it the first time.
AllHipHop.com: How did you do, SoundScan, when you had a major hit and all the publicity with the trial and everything?
Cassidy: Im not even sure. Personally, I aint even ask how I did, cause I just swept that album out from under the rug. I aint even try to check up on the album, to be honest with you. Im just glad to look ahead to this third album. The people that heard it know the type of music that I bring to the table quality music.
AllHipHop.com: What are your priorities now?
Cassidy: Continuing to build my relationship with the Lord. Staying close with my family. Im spending more time with them than I ever did before, because Im realizing that my family is there. I wasnt able to spend time with them when I was locked up. Not just my blood family, but my street family. Im looking other ways of generating money and success, besides just music.
AllHipHop.com: Theyre using your mugshot on the cover of the Cassidy Anthem whats that about?
Cassidy: Thats a song I had did a long time ago. They just put that out to keep my name out in the streets and with the DJs to let people know that I still do music. But thats not the new single.
AllHipHop.com: Who made the decision to use your mug shot on Anthem, the last single from your previous album? Somebody could say you are promoting or exploiting your jail time.
Cassidy: Thats definitely not what we set out to do. I not trying to use the situation to try to benefit my career, because I dont need to. If I was a gimmick artist that really couldnt spit, in the industry, I might try to use that to my advantage. A lot of other artists get into a situation and try to use it to their advantage, but not me. I know I can make quality music. I was still locked up when they made that decision to use that. But, that was a picture that was floating around at the time and I think they used it as it was a [mock] newspaper article. So, that was a smart idea since I was going through was I was going through. I was still locked up. It kinda caught your eye and you thinkin there is something about the case and its just something to promote the single.
AllHipHop.com: How were you treated in jail? There were rumors that you were raped in jail, assaulted and all sorts of things.
Cassidy: Its always people that show love and theres always haters. The same thing [happened] when Pac was locked up, saying he got raped. Its always gonna be a rumor about somebody thats a celebrity. Ask people thats really in my city, that was really in the jail. I was in general population every day, going to church every day, reading my books, exercising, getting outside food from C.O.s [correctional officers] that were showing love. I did me. It was a situation that I was forced to go through and I went through it. And Ima go through it the same way I go through my life in the streets. Im out here in general population and on the streets by myself, you know, with wild jewelry on so, of course, Im just gonna be in jail with my blues on.
I never even got into an altercation in jail. I passed a couple words to a couple dudes, but any situation that happens like that, and somebody tries to touch me or disrespect me, I would have had another charge, fighting another case.
AllHipHop.com: The guy that was murdered, did you consider him a friend?
Cassidy: Friend is something thats a touchy word. Yeah, I considered him a friend. Yeah, that was my man at one point.
AllHipHop.com: Even if its a former friend, how does it feel having a role in that whole matter in hindsight?
Cassidy: Well, now that its all over with and you look back on the situation, I wish things could have went differently, but in the heat of the moment, things go the way they go. It was God you cant go against Gods will. It was meant to happen. I dont feel no type of way about it. It is what it is it already happened, its already done. You cant go back in time and change it. But if I could, if that was possible, I probably would do certain things differently. Because, whether it was my friend or not or I didnt know him from a can of paint, still somebody lost their life and a couple other people got shot. Thats never a good thing. I dont wish that on nobody. But, at all times, Im going to protect myself and make sure that I come out all right too. Would you rather it be you that died? If you change the situation, and do something differently and you [could] die or you got shot. I dont know. I wish the best for his family and pray that God blesses his soul.
AllHipHop.com: Is there a lesson to be learned here?
Cassidy: Man. Like, the lesson is to see how the judicial system tries to target entertainers without the proper evidence, with out the proper investigation. Back in the day, there were [TV investigators like] Columbo and Matlock that go out there and and find out whats really going on. Now, people can just make a statement with no hardcore evidence and take time out of your life, dont give you a bail. And you still innocent until proven guilty, or they say you are, but you really guilty until proven innocent. No matter how much paper you got or what never you on, you not exempt. They can do the same thing to you if you get yourself in a situation even if you around a situation.
AllHipHop.com: We never heard about anybody else being charged. Was anybody else charged with a crime?
Cassidy: I dont know about that. I aint have no rappies [co-defendants] in my case. I was fighting my case by myself. Like I said in the previous question, they tried to target the big name, the person they feel they gonna get some light off
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