Cassie: Pure Magic

Cassie may have a sweet, vivacious personality, but she is someone who knows what she wants and is willing to take risks to get it. However, it hasn’t all been smooth sailing for this young exotic beauty. While promoting her debut album in 2006, Cassie stopped at New York’s Hot 97, and in one of […]

Cassie may have a sweet, vivacious personality, but she is someone who knows what she wants and is willing to take risks to get it. However, it hasn’t all been smooth sailing for this young exotic beauty. While promoting her debut album in 2006, Cassie stopped at New York’s Hot 97, and in one of the show’s more controversial segments, Cassie rated several male recording artists – including Ne-Yo, Justin Timberlake and T.I. – on a scale of 10 for sexiness. To top it off, Cassie then had some less-than-stellar performances on MTV’s TRL and BET’s 106 & Park. The media had a field day, branding Cassie as talent less and just another pretty face.Now we are approaching a new year and Cassie is back with a new sound. She’s brushed off the criticisms, learned from her mistakes, and has a new and improved outlook on life. From working with Kanye West to Jay-Z, the past 18 months have definitely made Cassie grow and with the future in mind, she discusses what’s next. Alternatives: I hear you’re in Miami in the studio right now working on the album…Cassie: I am, like crazy.AHHA: How’s it all going?Cassie: It’s good. I’m getting there. I’m kind of getting excited now. AHHA: So how close are you to finishing it?Cassie: I would say that by the end of the month I should be done, but I want to keep recording right up until the release and keep working. AHHA: Let’s go back to your last album first. You garnered a lot of criticism for your live vocal performances. Did you feel those comments were fair?Cassie: [pauses] I think they were fair. People can only base their opinions on what they see of you; people don’t know me as a human being or whatever. The only thing they can pass judgment on is from what they saw of me, which were my performances. So I think it’s fair that people said what they said about me, it’s what their opinions were. They were just being honest.AHHA: A lot of people just labeled you as a pretty face or eye candy. Do you ever feel your beauty is a curse as well as a gift?Cassie: I think it’s like that for a lot of women, especially in the music industry and in Hollywood or wherever else. I mean it can get in the way; I was actually speaking to somebody at Atlantic [Records] who I’m working with on this album –he actually came up to Miami to listen to some stuff a while back. He was telling me that when he first met me, he thought I was such a b**ch because I was just sitting there, hat down low, not saying anything, and he was thinking that I was some diva who thought I was all that. But actually I was just really nervous, and at that point I was also still really nervous about the new music and what people would think. What people don’t know about me is that when I first meet someone I’m really shy and quiet; I hardly talk until I get to know you and feel comfortable around you. So for me, between that and being attractive or whatever it is, people don’t get to see past it or connect to my personality and it does get a little hard sometimes. AHHA: Do you wish you had done things differently the first time around and taken time to get used to performing live and so on?Cassie: Yeah that’s for sure, but I’ve said before that it was definitely a learning experience. It was a point in my career where I actually didn’t know that I could say, “No. I’m not ready” you know what I mean? I definitely would’ve if I had known that I had that chance. I just thought it was all-label-forward and that I had to do it, in order to not blow my deal. So I put myself in that place by not even having the knowledge that you can always say no to any situation that you don’t feel comfortable in; whether it is live performances, interviews or whatever.AHHA: Do you feel more confident now? Or are you scared about the upcoming release/performing again?Cassie: Yeah, I mean definitely. My situation before messed up my head for a while, messed up my psyche because for a time I was just like, “I don’t even want to sing.” It made me so sad because it made me think this is what made people write bad things about me or whatever. Then I got to the point where I went, “You know what I love singing and I love performing and I‘m not going to let anyone get in my way.”I’m really working on it and I am in a way more comfortable place right now.  I found the sound that I was after, which is the hardest thing especially when you’re moving onto a project that is so much more important and you have so much to prove. I can’t mess up this opportunity, you know what I mean? I really just got to step up. It’s really, really important but I am very comfortable, I’m getting to work with some brilliant people and I’m having fun.AHHA: You have been in the limelight recently for modeling the new Sean John range, being in Kanye West’s “Stronger” video and singing back up vocals on Jay-Z’s American Gangster album. Now they are all great opportunities, but do you worry by doing back-up vocals or videos you’re putting yourself out there as just eye candy or back-up vocalist and not a lead vocal artist in your own right?Cassie: Umm. I actually really don’t. With the Kanye video, I thought it was a real cool experience and he is a friend of mine and so I was like, “Of course I will do that for you, of course I’ll fly out to Tokyo.” [laughs] How bad could that be, right? I don’t really look at it like that, I think I need exposure and I haven’t put myself out negatively at all. I haven’t connected myself to anything negative; say Kanye or the Jay-Z thing or Sean John… I think it’s all very positive. It’s not like it’s me and a sex tape, right? [laughs] They were all opportunities that people asked of me, it’s not like I was trying to get myself attached to these projects or get out there, but I think it’s kept me visual, and it’s made people not forget about me. AHHA: Have you spoken to Kanye since his unfortunate loss?Cassie: I actually haven’t spoken to him personally because you know he’s still dealing with things, but I contacted his people and I sent something over saying that I’m very sorry for his loss and he’s in my prayers. It’s just a very, very sad situation. Everyone knows how close he was to his mother, it affected everyone in a way as it wasn’t just somebody’s mom that no one knew about. We all kind of knew about [Donda West] through Kanye’s music and other stuff. I pray for him, his family and everyone that is around him. He’s a very, very strong guy so I think he will be ok. AHHA: Ok let’s move onto happier times. You looked beautiful in the new “Roc Boys” video…Cassie: [laughs] Thank you. It was so much fun. It was honestly just a good time. Puff produced a lot of the album and I was recording my stuff in the studio next door and Puff would be like, “Cassie, could you come in here real quick and put some vocals on this” and that’s how I ended up being on [American Gangster]. When Puffy would have to go Jay’s Roc the Mic studio during the whole recording process, I would go with him and Jay would be there and Beyonce would be there and it was just really cool to be around that because I look up to all of them. The video was like a real party; there wasn’t really any acting going on. [laughs]AHHA: I have to ask about Diddy. The rumors are not going away about you two dating and to be fair he does spend a lot more time out with you than he does with any of the other Bad Boy artists…Cassie: They never will go away. [laughs] No I haven’t ever dated Diddy. I’m his artist, and we are actually friends. We really are friends. I am fortunate to have that connection with him, we just happened to have really hit it off as friends, but that’s it. It doesn’t bother me people think that or say that we are dating as people are going to say it regardless if I am bothered or not right? [laughs] These are my friends. I’m not going to stop hanging around someone or stop being friends with someone because people are making up things you know? It used to bother me a lot more but now I am like “whatever.” AHHA: What about the Ryan Leslie rumors? Do the rumors affect your relationships, make things awkward?Cassie: I think people definitely perceive me as being with these men because they don’t understand how I could ever get to where I am without sleeping with them; do you know what I mean? I have never put myself out there in any situation that would make me seem slutty [laughs] but I guess that’s what people think of me. AHHA: I wouldn’t take it personally, it’s just the way the industry, blogs, internet is…Cassie: Yeah exactly. Like, you know Lauren London? The girl I modeled Sean Jean with…there were rumors that we were lesbians. [laughs] We are really good friends, and we talk all the time and we hang out but we’re not lesbians. [laughs] AHHA: That rumor sounds like another thing a man probably started, as it was his fantasy or something…Cassie: [laughs] Yeah they are trying to talk it into reality. Me and Lauren London had made a pact that we would stop reading blogs because they only ever really write negative things; especially about us and [Lauren] called me and was like, “Oh my god, I know we said we wouldn’t read anymore blogs but I broke our rule and I just had to tell you that they are saying we are lesbians.” [laughs] We just dust it off and ignore it most of the time. AHHA: So you don’t like reading blogs?Cassie: I mean I used too and occasionally I will look at something like Perez Hilton or something like that. It is entertaining, but too many people take them too seriously and that’s why they are taking over. AHHA: So are you single?Cassie: I’m single. I’ve been single for a really long time and in a way it helped me kind of find myself. I was in a three-year relationship in High School. Until I moved to New York, I was with him. I definitely want to get into a relationship again at some point. It’s just hard with scheduling and things like that. AHHA: Let’s get into the new album. What do you want people to feel once they have heard it?Cassie: Puffy and I have had countless conversations about where I’m going, what the look is and how it’s going to pan out… I’ve grown up so much within a year, I mean if you had talked to me a year ago I sounded so different, totally clueless, [laughs] no clue at all on what I was talking about. Before it was just about, ’Let’s have fun and travel and whatever.” Now it’s about becoming a woman, and I’m not quite there yet, but I’m going through the experiences that make be get there. It’s a more vulnerable album; it’s a little bit stripped down as far as vocally and the content in the songs. Like I did a song last night called “That’s Not What Love Is” and it’s about a very, very real situation that a lot of people can relate to. It has a lot of emotion behind it. I really hope people get it and they see me in a different light – without the makeup, the hair and the clothes…just me, by myself. My album artwork is going to be really intimate. I want people to see me, how my boyfriend would, if I had a boyfriend that is. [laughs] The way the music is coming together; I sound like I feel it. AHHA: Who have you been working with on this album, as far as producers or guest appearances?Cassie: I have no guest appearances so far; I’m sure that will come once we finish up and finalize the track listing and things like that. As far as producers, I’ve got to work with Puffy which hasn’t happened before, which is really, really cool. He’s really been hands-on with this project. I worked with Ryan Leslie of course again, I worked with Kanye, I worked with Eric Hudson, Brian Cox. Lterally I worked with a whole roster of talent. Last night I got the opportunity to work with a writer by the name of Jim Beanz, we had met before but had never really been familiarized properly. I’m working with Danja and I was telling him, “You know that song ‘Perfect Lover’ on Britney’s album, I love it.” He was just like, “Oh cool,” and then I was telling Puffy that on his album I love “After Love” with Keri Hilson and I just found out yesterday that Jim Beanz wrote both of them. Those are two songs that I absolutely, completely love so I’m really excited to work with [Jim]. AHHA: Do you know what you’re going to call the new album?Cassie: No, I’m still fiddling around with a few ideas, I just want the album title to be as intimate as the sound of the album. It may not be ‘til the very, very last moment that we figure out the name of it. It also will depend on what the final songs we end up picking as well. AHHA: Do you feel it is better than your first album?Cassie: I wouldn’t say it is better, but it is different. The first album was really just about the time and place I was in and I wasn’t really involved in the process like I should have been. I actually have an emotional connection to the current album. I wouldn’t say one is better than the other, but this album is going to be a more grown and personal experience between me and whoever is listening to it – which people may appreciate more. I just hope people like it.