Chase N. Cashe may be the most popular guy in hip-hop. In a few short years, the New Orleans rapper/producer has ingratiated himself with seemingly everyone; being memorably name-checked by Drake on “9 am in Dallas,” winning Grammy Awards, clocking production credits with the likes of Beyonce and Lil Wayne and generally just being kind of everywhere. I met Chase for the first time at a random book club that rapper Pusha T invited me to and we spent most of the night arguing about the parallels of Animal Farm and the Third World. Long story.
Despite an already impressive resume and enviable Rolodex, Chase is determined to earn his rapping stripes. He released his debut Gumbeaux in 2011 along with several projects in 2012 and this week releases Ca$he Rules in conjunction with Scion AV. It’s an exercise in restraint. The multi-hyphenate doesn’t produce any of the tracks and features are minimal, delegated only to Casey Veggies and Smoke DZA.
Chase spoke to us about his new EP and man-about-town status from Art Basel in Miami
You spent last week in Miami at Art Basel. How was that?
I had a possible show when I got in on the 6th but it happened to be cancelled because too much profanity outside by the pool. Other than that, I just got to go around and see all the dope exhibits and shit. Lot of paintings. It was good. It was refreshing.
What happened by the pool?
Oh man! The acts before I got there had cursing in their songs and it was outside and I guess it wasn’t up to the Shore Club’s standards. I think they didn’t want curse words coming out at the hotel or something. It’s hilarious.
It felt like everyone in hip-hop was down there. Is Art Basel the new SXSW?
Yeah. Completely. It’s like the Florida SXSW. It’s dope, man. The venues are crazy. That’s what I like better than here. I went to A-Trak’s Fool’s Gold shit and that was very dope. Trick Daddy came. I went to Basel Castle and a couple of other events. With that and the art exhibits, it was structured better. It has to potential, to me, to be better than SXSW. Not better, but more organized. SXSW you feel so crowded.
Ca$he Rules is out today. Interestingly, you didn’t produce any of the tracks.
No beats produced by me. That’s one thing I wanted to let everyone know. It’s a complete collaborative effort. I wanted to give people I know a chance to get a platform. My name is gonna get seen a lot of the times so you know, I didn’t want to hog up the beats.
So how did you decide on the final tracklist?
I’m excited, man. Five songs that definitely represents where I am. I have a song with Casey Veggies [“Me and Mine”] and the video should be dropping tomorrow or some time soon. A very fun video. I think when people see it they’ll see the chemistry me and Casey have. My boys UPS produced “Me and Mine.” My guy Ichiban Willie, who works with T.D.E., produced “World Peace,” which is my favorite song on there. Very very crazy. I got a joint called “D.U.I.T.” with Louie D out the bay. He’s very good. He’s like 18 or maybe even younger than that. He still goes to school and sends me beats when he’s in class. I got Cardiak who produced “Act A Fool” with Smoke DZA, my brother for a long time. And um, after that? I’m trying to think of who did the last record. I’m so high I can’t think of it. Oh! My man, Burning Keys who produced “I Can Do That.”
You’re high? You said on Twitter that there was no good weed in Miami!
Nah. I was joking, man. The South Beach area only, man. I always find good weed everywhere. I just like to fuck around with people and joke. I always say that California has the best weed.
Along with artists like Hit-Boy and Travi$ Scott, you’re in the new generation of hybrid rapper/producers. How seamless is the back-and-forth?
Funny thing is, the only thing that’s changed is how people in the industry approach getting beats from me. I think when they hear my music and you hear what I’ve done for other artists, it’s very very diverse. A lot of times it’s like, pick your poison. A lot of people don’t even know what to ask me for. They ask me for “We Ball” or “Look What You’ve Done.” They just ask me for whatever they know is successful. I cater to the artists’ emotions because I’m emotional. I know these people in person so I know what to play them. Music is emotional with me. It’s not a guessing game. I’m emotionally trying to connect with you. It’s nothing for me to ask Dom Kennedy, “What’s your favorite instrument?” Him telling me, “Pianos” and I play him pianos. For “Look What You Done,” Drake posted this shit with Static [Major] on the blog and I seen it and I replayed it initially myself. I knew he’d recognize it and that’s what he did. He’s like, “Oh shit! How did you flip that shit like that? Send me the files.”
See also: Dear Drake: Please Leave Aaliyah Alone
I’d imagine it’s weird to ask the same rappers you give beats to for verses.
Nah man. I just go into the studio and work with people I like working with. Like me and Troy Ave have the most exchanges out of everything. I go to his studio–he has a home studio– and meet up with him. Or me and DZA, we record out of the same studio all the time. We’re not computer-based. We’re friendship-based.
How are you friends with all of these rappers? Seriously.
I personally be everywhere, man. I’m friends with people who’re everywhere. I’ve lived in multiple places. I naturally started my career by leaving New Orleans and moving to Los Angeles to Hollywood Boulevard. [Laughs]. I threw myself in the midst. I think I’ve just been blessed to meet people who feed off my energy.
You are literally everywhere. We met at Pusha T’s book club in SoHo last year. Remember we argued over Animal Farm?
Oh shit. That’s right.
OK. You’re friends with everyone, but it’s year-end list time. What was the best rap album of 2013?
My favorite album is Troy Ave’s New York City. A lot of people will crucify me because they’re like, “I thought you was Drake’s homeboy!” I love Drake’s album man, but I think Troy Ave. I think he dropped the most authentic, original, charismatic album that you’re gonna keep listening to. I haven’t seen so many people change their opinion over him. They just heard this music on New York City and they’re like “Wow. I fuck with this guy. He’s the one.” His hard work paid off. I like the grind. I like the boldness he took of naming his album that and pulling it off at a time where people were talking about “New York rap is dead” and all this mess with Trinidad James. Troy Ave is like waving the flag of New York proudly.
So do you think that Troy Ave is going to be the next to make it from New York?
Yes, man! Yes, man! I been saying that for years. I’ve been lucky to witness it. I met Troy at SXSW. We’re both hustlers and coming from street music but rapping for like, a purpose. That’s what I’m excited for people to see about Troy. People might think he’s gonna go over the top with this “Harry Powder” shit, but he’s really, really rapping for a reason. He raps about his friends, people in his real life. I think he’s the next to blow. For a long time, New York City wanted someone like this. Someone independent and bold enough. He’s a star.