Henry Ward Beecher, a social reformer of the 19th Century, once said, “God asks no man whether he will accept life. That is not the choice. You must take it. The only choice is how.” Sitting across from the diamond-adored, small-framed, Philadelphia rapper known as Cassidy, we are reminded of this quote, as he describes his new optimistic attitude on life after his multitude of struggles.
Losing his freedom to the Pennsylvania’s Curran-Fromhold Correctional Facility for 8 months in 2006, after a conviction of involuntary manslaughter and two counts of aggravated assault, life dealt the Swizz Beatz protégé a another onset of problems. His first, would come in the form of a near-death car accident in October of 2006, which left him hospitalized, in a coma, and with major trauma to the brain. He’s second, would be the internal and external healing from within the young MC.
While introspectively pointing out that Moses “caught a body” in the Bible and then went on to write most of the New Testament after building a relationship with God, Cassidy (born Barry Adrian Reese) asserts that he is not a “bad guy” and would like fans to get to know a more organic side to him with his new album entitled, B.A.R.S.: The Barry Adrian Reese Story, instead of his commercial, hit singles from his previous albums.
With a large scar wrapping the left side of his head, masked only by a fitted hat cocked to the side, this 25-year-old father sheds some light to BallerStatus.com on his journey and future.
BallerStatus.com: Did you have any nerves about your album coming out after a little bit of a hiatus?
Cassidy: I wouldn’t call it “nervous,” because I already got an understanding with the Lord. I already talked it over with him. I’ve put in so much work, I don’t feel as though I’m a gimmick or a fluke. There’s nobody writing for me, there’s nobody making me into the person I am or telling me do this or do that. I’m as real as they come. I’m definitely not worried. And I’m not feeling no type of way about my album coming out. I feel as though my album should have been came out.
My second album would have been a lot bigger, if I would have been out in the streets to promote it. But since I was locked up when it came out, it didn’t go to the level that it was supposed to. So, now that I’m dropping my third album, I feel as though it’s a blessing and I’m excited that I can finally revive hip-hop and bring it back ’cause [hip-hop is] so dead now and watered down. Now-a-days people just riding out ’cause somebody got a name or they did something in the past. Everybody think that they still hold the same amount of weight, but they don’t. I don’t hear no hot music out right now besides my own. I mean, I don’t want to say that and get a bunch of people in the industry mad at me. There’s a few hot songs out, but there’s not a lot of people going hard. I haven’t heard any hot albums that I can listen to beginning to end. The only real artists I like right now are Ne-yo and Kanye. And that’s why I put them on the remix to “My Drink N’ My 2 Step.” I’m talkin’ about full albums, not just artists that can spit a verse. I’m talking about whole albums of just crack. I don’t feel as though there’s nobody out there that can really do that no more, so I need to bring it back.
BallerStatus.com: On Hot 97 a while back, you were saying that Jay-Z is no longer putting out classic albums or classic material. Do you feel as though your new album is a classic album?
Cassidy: Yea, it’s the best album I’ve ever put together. Definitely classic material. The stuff I’m talking about, the topics I’m addressing, the music, the concepts, the title — even just the title… There’s just so much to it. Even the pictures in the inside. You see the accident pictures from when I nearly lost my life. You see me in the hospital bed, you see the car from the crash, you see the cop cars from when I went to jail. This is real life, this is not a movie. A lot of people be basing their albums off of movies. My life is like a movie, so I’m basing my album on true life, it’s based on a true story. It’s authentic. I don’t feel as though there is nothing else out there like that.
BallerStatus.com: Now that you’ve had a near death experience, do you approach your writing style differently, as opposed to your lyrics on previous albums? Would you say your lyrics are more positive now?
Cassidy: Well, on the first album, I told you I had split personalities. My three personalities is, Cassidy, The Problem, and Barry Reese. Barry Reese was the serious side, The Problem was the reckless, battle, bite-your-head-off style and Cassidy was the more jewelry, get the ladies, the more celebrity, the star. Those are my three personalities. People didn’t understand why I called my [first] album Split Personality. I was confusing in the beginning. With the second album, it was supposed to be The Problem’s chance to do his thing, cause on Spit Personality, I went for the ladies and I gave Cassidy a chance to shine, you know, with “Hotel.” Then I wanted The Problem to shine ’cause that’s what people really knew me for — battling, getting on the mixtapes, spitting punch-lines. So, I wanted to give him a chance to sign. But he battled a new personality, The Hustla, in the beginning of the album, my second album. The Problem lost to The Hustla, so that’s why The Hustla got a chance to do the album, instead of The Problem and I called the album I’m A Hustla.
This time around it’s called B.A.R.S.: The Barry Adrian Reese Story. Barry Reese was always one of my personalities, but now Barry Adrian Reese gets to tell his side of the story. The reason that Barry Reese is telling the story and not Cassidy, or The Problem or The Hustla is because Barry Reese is the person I really am. That’s what they were calling me in the hospital. That’s what they was calling me in jail. That’s what they used to call me in elementary school, before I even thought about becoming a rapper. So, that’s who I really am. It’s giving fans really an understanding of who I am as a person and getting to know me as a person, not just Cassidy. Cause [the fans] don’t really know who I am. They like, “Cassidy? What kind of dude is he? Is he hard? Is he poppy? Is he gangsta? Is he street? What religion is he?” They don’t really know too much about me. This album explains so much and lets them know me as a person. So they gon’ love and respect me, as a person as opposed to me just making good songs.
BallerStatus.com: So, then what do you think is the biggest misconception people have of you?
Cassidy: Hmm… I don’t know, that’s hard. I guess right now the biggest misconception is that I’m a bad guy. I’m a negative guy. I’m a guy that promotes violence. It’s not just me. People try to say that’s hip-hop period. Like anybody involved in hip-hop got that type of mentality. I don’t feel as though I’m a bad guy. Just cause I went to jail for murder and two attempts, and I might of held guns and carried guns… might of smoked weed, you know what I’m saying? Done things that not everybody would consider the right thing to do, but that still might not necessarily make me a bad guy.
I read the Bible from cover to cover. I remember Paul used to be killin’ people, actually going against Christians. He was like the opposite of a Christian. Christians was going to war and he was one of the people that they were going to war with before he turned into a person that wrote most of The New Testament. Moses, before he got his relationship with God, killed somebody. He came up rich and wealthy. Even though he was a Hebrew, he grew up in Egypt with the princess, with wild money. But when they first start telling the story of Moses, [the Bible says] he sees a Hebrew fighting somebody from Egypt and he run down on em’ and kill em. So, he catch a body right in the Bible. But at the end of the day, Moses come to write most of The Old Testament and be one the one the people that God got to lead all of Israel out of Egypt. So, it’s like everybody that God use and that got respect for, don’t gotta be like sin-less or so righteous. Everybody gonna make mistakes and do things that they not supposed to do, as long as you do the thing that you were put here to do… the reason why God put you here to do certain things. As long as you do that, you’ll be cool.
I think people think I’m a bad person and that’s why I did my second single, “Innocent,” to let people know the reason why I caught the murder. The reason why I do the things I do and the pressures you faced when you’re a celebrity.
BallerStatus.com: What are some of those pressures of being a celebrity? How do struggles compare now that you have fame and have people that look to you to take care of them?
Cassidy: Yea, that’s automatic. Responsibility. I got love for the people that I take care of. So, it’s not like at any given moment if I had to stop, I would just want to stop. I’m always trying to figure out a situation to provide for my family and my friends. Not only do I have to worry about my 4-year-old son, my baby mom… I gotta worry about my mom and little brother that just turned 14 years old. I got a step-father, I got a grand-mom and I got bunch of other cousins and aunts and I’m just talking about immediate family. Then I got immediate, immediate family that be even closer to me than my family members. They might not be blood, but they might just be close to me. I gotta make sure that they taken care of. I don’t just got to take of my family and friends, I gotta take care of my family and friends enough, so that they can take care of the people that they gotta take care of, and that’s kind of hard to do. People just expect it to just get done, but it’s kinda hard to take on all that responsibility in your own hands, and keep making sure they’re taken care of over and over and over. Not just one time, over and over. Everyday you gotta make sure everything is cool. Some people can’t even just pay a $140 gas bill or electric bill every month, or an $80 cable bill. They be behind two or three months on little light bills. All of that is just the normal responsibility. So, I got that all that on top of problem, after problem, after problem. That’s why they say, “Mo’ money mo’ problems.” I think I rather have the problems that I got, then the problems I would have to deal with when I was dead broke. But at the end of the day, you have to be a certain type of person to deal with it.
BallerStatus.com: I think people sometimes see the ice, the cars and the houses in videos and possibly have a false sense of money in the game. Would you say the money in the music industry is as abundant as people might think it is?
Cassidy: See, I started off grindin in the street. I started off hustlin’ and I never had a job a day in my life. I always was spoiled, always had people take care of me, always had connections. So, I never really had to go through that “I’m hungry” stage. I mean, I was struggling, I was in North Philly in the hood, probably in a house that wouldn’t cost nothing to nobody. But, I still felt as though I was cool. I was still eatin’, I still had toys, I still was cool. Being that I grew up in a bad neighborhood, people might think that I didn’t have it good, but I felt as though I did. I was an only child for a long period of time, until I was about 11 years old. By the time my little brother was born, around 12 or 13, that’s when you start getting on the streets and getting into things in the streets on your own. I pretty much was grindin’ my whole life and that was cool.
When I got 16, 17 years old, that’s when I started getting into the industry. I got signed when I was 17 years old. So, I been around X, and Eve and Swizz. Just seeing cars and jewelry, seeing how much money they made, so it’s not like it impressed me when I started to get it. But there is a lot of people that think rappers make more money than they do without having talent. People think that you can just write a rap. You might not even be a rapper, but you could just write a rap and get a deal and just make money. It’s not like that.
There is a lot of money in the rap game being a rapper. I mean, if you got a successful song, there’s a lot of money. I know people that work all year, five days a week, 8 hours a day, for 365 days and probably only come home with $20,000, $30,000 after they pay taxes. That doesn’t include all the expenses they gotta pay throughout the whole year. So, I’m like, “Damn, there’s people that go to work and work for that.” I could go get $20,000 or $30,000 for one show right now for 30 minutes of doing what I like doing anyways — Dancin’ and performing. So, it might not be Bill Gates money, but there’s a lot of money in rap. There’s way more money than what a lot of these people are used to. You just gotta have your business-mind right and make smart decisions and know what to do when you finally do get it.
BallerStatus.com: As far as record sales, what are your expectations for this album?
Cassidy: I don’t care, it’s like I’m comfortable already. Like I told you, I just went yesterday and made $15,000 for doing a 15 minute show. That’s so beautiful. I couldn’t pray for nothing else. It’s like some people in life be dead broke and they’ll pray and stress out and pray for a million dollars. Then that broke person get a million dollars and now they doing more to get from a million to 10 million, and they stressing out, changing their religion, changing their sexuality, changing everything they believe in. They change their style, their whole outlook on life just to get from a million to 10 million. Then once they get that 10 million, they focused on getting that 100 million. It’s like they never comfortable or never satisfied. See me, I’m not that type of dude. I’m satisfied now. I got enough money to provide for my friends, for my family, especially my son. If my son was old enough right now and wanted to go to college, I could send him or if he wanted a car, I could get it for him. Whatever he needed, I could do right now at this present moment. So, if I could just maintain this lifestyle for the rest of my life, I’ll be comfortable with that. I don’t need billions of dollars, boats, jets and all that. That’d be cool, but even if I don’t got it, I’ll still be cool. If I owned a boat, I probably would only get to ride it once a year anyways. So, why can’t I just go to an island, get a boat that’s somebody else’s, have the same enjoyment on the boat and get back to my regular life? And even if I never ride the boat, I’m still going to be comfortable ’cause that’s not what I’m into. I rather just provide for my friends and family and better my relationship with God and worry about heaven.
You gonna always gonna go through problems. Even if you have all the money. You might have problems somewhere else in your life, like health problems that money can’t even fix. There’s always a problem that you’re going to go through. Money not gonna solve nothin’. That’s why in the Bible, Jesus says, “It’s harder for a rich man to get into heaven than it is to fit a camel through the eye of a needle.” And then disciple says, “Well, then it’s impossible for a rich man to go to heaven, because it’s impossible to fit a camel through the eye of a needle.” But [Jesus] says, “To you, in the human mind it’s impossible, but to God, nothing is impossible.” So, he’s saying it’s not impossible for a rich man to go to heaven, but it’s just hard because they put the money before they put God. People just so caught up in the money and living good, and they be going through so much stress trying to get it in this life, when this life is so short. Whether you live one year or a 100 years, it’s still short compared to eternity. That’s what you should be focused on more than just getting money. I want to be successful. I want to do my thing, but that’s not what I’m completely focused on.
BallerStatus.com: Looking at the pictures from your car accident, it’s definitely a miracle that your still with us and seemingly healthy. Do you have any lasting side-effects from your head trauma or have to take pills daily?
Cassidy: Thanks to God, man, I’m a strong dude. Whether it’s emotional strength or just anything, I’m a strong dude. That’s why I really snap, I got an attitude problem sometimes. Sometimes I break down ’cause it be all my emotions coming out at once.
I went through the accident and they thought I was going to be brain dead. I suffered bad brain damage. I broke the bones around my eye on the side of my head and then you see my scar in the back of my head. I broke a lot of bones. I suffered amnesia from all the brain damage. My brain was so badly bruised that I couldn’t remember everything. That’s why they thought I wasn’t going to be able to rap or be the same. It took me about seven or eight months before I recovered fully enough to be able to just move around, work again and do my thing. But thanks to God, I was praying the whole time and I just feel better. I even feel better now that I got into the car accident than I did before I got in the accident. I feel better now than before I went to jail. It’s like those things helped me. For some reason, I just feel stronger. But you know, God is good and he brought me through it. They thought it was going to take me a longer period of time to recover before I was able to do my thing or even talk. It was like it happened so quick, but God was with me.
I feel better than ever. I still got my scars. I don’t got no tattoos, so I got my scars. I remember one time, I woke up, I was in coma when I was in the hospital and that’s how I got these scars all on my arms from pulling out the IVs. That’s why when I was coming out of my coma, they put me in a medicated coma, incase I wake up, I wouldn’t be traumatized. But the medicated coma wasn’t like real coma. Like sometimes you could just snap out of one of those joints. Like you in a coma, but you wilin’ out, you can move and stuff. Sometimes I would snap up and kick real hard and you know the end of bed is metal. I started kicking it so hard my feet started bleeding. I started getting blisters all in my feet. That was a bad problem, because when I first got cool enough to walk, it was hard because my feet were so bruised. I was spazzing my arms too and had cords all in my arms. So, I was ripping them out and because they’re in your veins. I was busting my veins. I did that like three times and that’s how I got a lot of scars on my arms and body. So, that’s that my tattoos to help me remember what I came through as opposed to just something that just don’t really mean something.
But I feel better. I don’t take pills. I don’t take medicine. When I first came out the hospital, I did have to take pills, like pain pills. The pressure over my head, I used to wake up with headaches so crazy, that I had to take something. So, in the beginning I was taking something for the first couple months and having to go to certain types of therapy and medicines. I suffered back damage, but it was just cause I banged it and once that went down there was no permanent damages to my back or nothing. So, there was no reason for me to still go to therapy. I still gotta go to the doctor. You see how my hair fell out in the back and my scars? They even wanted to do plastic surgery on my scar and I just wanted it to be there.
I had to go to a lot of eye doctors. I’m so happy that my eyeball didn’t get cut. There were so many cuts all around my eye, but my eyeball was saved and that’s a blessing. But because my eye was bruised and scrapped up, I had to get it checked to make sure my vision was still there. I had to get a lot of brain tests, cause you know, they expected me to be brain dead. A lot of MRIs to make sure my brain was functioning correctly too. I had to go to a back doctor a couple times and I have to go to my regular doctor a lot of make sure I’m cool. I definitely have to go see a lot of different private doctors, but I’m not really in therapy. It would be impossible for me to be in therapy and doing the work I’m doing, anyway.
BallerStatus.com: Is there anything else on your plate?
Cassidy: I got the LOT 29 clothing deal. You see my squad (points to entourage members) they got on LOT 29 gear. I’m doing all the male modeling for LOT 29 and then trying to figure out new designs and new ways I can get more money and sell more clothes. So, I’m focused on that now.
I got the Larceny Family, my label. I got about six rappers and I got about seven producers and a few singers. I’m about finalize this Larceny Family deal to potentially drop the first Larceny Family album, probably the summer of next year. In the spring time, you’ll probably hear a few singles from the Larceny Family project.
I’m writing a book and getting prepared to do my own movie. I’m not going to direct it or anything like that, but I’m going to just write it out. It’s going to be similar to “8 Mile” or “Get Rich Or Die Trying,” but it’s going to be about my life story.