Perhaps best known for his minor 2007 hit “My Drink N’ My 2 Step,” Philly native Cassidy is the archetypal cocky rapper whose relatively small sip of success has led him to think he is the most deserving, street-savvy and underappreciated rapper out there. Cass’s new album, C.A.S.H. (Cass A Straight Hustla), does nothing to warrant the titanic amounts of narcissism and cockiness. For all of Cass’s misdirected, supercilious verses (of which there are many), few moments actually merit it.


C.A.S.H. (Cass A Straight Hustla)
Kross Over

“Face 2 Face” is a laundry list of Cassidy’s ideal rap battle opponents, as Cass name drops every famous rapper who has ever spit a verse. The song begins with a sped-up chipmunk voice singing to the tune of Barney’s “I Love You, You Love Me” about battling, then segues to the barely-there beat with melodramatic synth that spikes randomly over Cass’s awkward flow. Cass then challenges his own rap rivals: “Don’t go on the Internet / Talkin’ all indirect / Battle me / Face to face.” Suffice it to say 99 percent of the rappers he names in the song (Drake, Eminem, Kanye and Nas among them) could probably rap the McDonald’s Dollar Menu and still beat Cass in a battle.

In the rare moments Cass drops the street-hardened hoodlum act, he succeeds in pulling off semi-memorable songs. “Girl Like Her” features danceable beats and satisfying hooks, hard to come by on the rest of the album. The R&B melody can’t distract from Cassidy’s lame lyrics about how he didn’t cheat on his girl (“The ladies always be in my face / But don’t believe what they be puttin’ on their Twitter or their MySpace”) or guest vocalist Mýa’s complete irrelevance to modern hip hop.

The decidedly un-gangster “Paper Up,” Cassidy’s most redeeming moment, features an old-school soul sample of horns and guitars underneath a bass-y East Coast beat. Ironically, Cassidy’s best moment here isn’t his rapping. On the chorus, he sings surprisingly well: “I’m on the come-up but I’m still climbin’ / I’m getting money but I’m still grindin’ / Cause I gotta get my paper up.” Though Cassidy’s vocabulary is no match for the acerbic wordplay of mush-mouthed Gucci Mane or the slick sophistication of Drake, you have to admit Cass does have his moments: “I play with them Knicks like Gallinari / I went from ordering onion rings to calamari.”

Nevertheless, Cass doesn’t capitalize. Unlike more successful rappers (T.I., Eminem) who have learned that rap without hooks does not sell, Cassidy either doesn’t have the melodic chops to pull it off, or just doesn’t give a crap enough to consistently try.

In “I’m a G Boy,” Cass lets listeners know that he “Ain’t in no motherfucking gang / But I’m a motherfucking gangster.” According to Cassidy, all other rappers are poseurs: “They act gangsta / But really do no gangsta shit.” Exactly what this “gangsta shit” is, however, remains a mystery. Instead, we’re merely informed (over and over and over) that Cassidy is a “G Boy.” And in case we still aren’t grasping the message, let us not forget that C.A.S.H. stands for “Cass A Straight Hustla.”

What Cassidy really needs is a large slice of humble pie. For the storm of shit he talks up, he has very little with which to back it up. His flow is stumbling and mediocre, his boastful verses are outlandish and nonsensical (but not in a so-vulgar-it’s-hilarious Lil Wayne way) and his beats are forgettable and outdated. Who knows, maybe Cass actually is a Straight Hustla in real life. But no amount of hustlin’ can save C.A.S.H. from its sure descent into obscurity.

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