Your new mixtape The Proposal Part 2: Back to Business is out. How's it doing for you so far?
Internet-wise, it's doing great. I haven't really put it out in stores in yet. We got original beats on there with the exception of four tracks. There's only four freestyles on there. I got production on there by Qwan, J. Scrilla from Guns and Butter, GQ Beats and Ty Sounds. I even produced a joint on there. P-Cutta hosted it. I've known him. When I got out of jail, he showed me love and we did shows together. This is definitely going to be one of the hottest tapes to hit the streets. Internet-wise, it's doing great. I have a lot of preorders and it's doing great. I'm real proud of it and it's my best work to date.
How important is it as an unsigned artist to work with producers on original material as opposed to doing a mixtape full of freestyles?
I got a long track record. The people that know me know that I'm better recording over original beats. I'm not a freestyle artist. I've had records on Hot 97 daily before. People who know me know me for recording original music over original beats. On my last tape, This Time It's for the Money, it was all freestyles and the mixtape formula format. This time, I was trying to reinvent myself and bring everything to a better level. A lot of producers hit me off with beats daily. Every street producer that you can name hits me off with beats. They hit my email with a bunch of beats and I just go through them and I vibe with the beats and I crush them. I kill them. I love the creativity and they're feeling the music.
They throw me the beats on the arm with no money involved. They love my music and it's a great thing to get the notoriety that I'm getting, especially from being away for as long as I was. It's a great feeling.
Why do you think so many producers give you free beats?
I was just speaking to Qwan on the phone. He's produced beats for Memphis Bleek and M.O.P. If you ask me, he's one of the best up-and-coming producers. I got joints from the Heatmakerz. I got a whole bunch of producers. It's just a good thing. They feel the music. Qwan told me today that a lot of artists he approaches tell him to hit their manager. A lot of rappers are acting like that. I don't get mad at it, but it's just not what it used to be. A lot of guys I came up with, and I don't want to disclose any names, but they're more ahead than I am and they look at me like they don't know me. I put a lot of people on. You can ask about Cashmere in the streets where real hip-hop resides and they'll tell you about me, like, 'Damn, the dude is incredible.' With me getting these beats, I just stay humble. I'm a real person and plus my music speaks for myself. I make real music and music that fits me. I don't make snap music and I don't discredit that. But I just do real hip-hop and I do what I gotta do and I just stay humble. I approach these guys as men and not as a rap superstar. I approach them like a real man and get their honest opinion. They give me an honest opinion and they must like me to give me free beats. They're giving me fire and it's a blessing. That's what I say.
How hard is it to get an honest opinion on the industry side of things?
(laughs) Oh, man, that's real hard. There are so many yes-men. There's no such thing as an A&R in this industry. Everything is so mechanical and based on BDS spins. They're going to gravitate to you based on how many spins you have and the noise you're making. You could be the hottest artist in the world, but if you're not getting your music heard, then this guy that got his music heard yesterday due to BDS spins and notoriety could take your place. There are a lot of artists that are getting promoted, but they're not hotter than the artists that are out. I was just listening to Green Lantern's show on Tuesday and there was a lot of weak stuff on there. It is what it is. I can't knock it, but it's hip-hop. You either love the game or you hate it.
When you see how important BDS spins are to A&Rs, do you chase spins or do you want to take your own path in the game?
Me, I've gotten as many radio spins as I could. I love hip-hop. I do it because I love it. If I wasn't doing it for money, I would hate hip-hop because as long as I've been doing it, everything I'm doing I'm making money off of it because of me. I'm putting money into my own product and I'm doing it because it's me. I'm doing it because I love hip-hop and I'm not doing it to ride the wave. I love hip-hop and I love this game.
For the people who don't know Cashmere, I'll give you the rundown. Cashmere's the guy who first put Maino on his first record when he came home and gave him his first notoriety. Maino's a good dude and a good guy. I was getting more radio spins than any artist, signed or unsigned, than any New York artist. That was when I was signed to my production company Manhood and I had to get out of there and cut out the middle man. I'm not getting the notoriety but I'm steady working and I don't know what people are saying out there about me. I stay working and I'm getting a great response off The Proposal Part 2. The Heroin Project, my album, should be dropping soon. That's crazy. I'm so proud of that album. It's so sick. That should be dropping in the summer of '08 on an independent or major. I got major and independent labels hollering and I'm just doing my thing. I get a better response from doing my own thing because I'm up close and personal with the connections that I'm getting instead of the middle man being there and me not really knowing what's going on. It's just been a good thing to me. It's been a good thing and I'm just getting great feedback. I love hip-hop and I'm doing it for the fans. I'm not doing it for no money or because I want to be on TV and all that. I'm doing this with or without a deal. If I don't get a deal in three years, I'd still be doing it.
How much harder was it for you once you left Manhood and had to do it all on your own?
It was crazy. It was kind of hard. It hit me and I stumbled for a second. I was kind of mad but at the end of the day, I fought through it and did what I had to do. Now it's great. It was like a big transition to go from a boy to a man. It's good to be a man. I'm doing my own thing and I'm getting my own money. I'm distributing my own CD. Everything that I'm doing is me. I got my own staff that works for me and I got my own company. I'm doing 6-7 shows a month. It's a good thing. It's a blessing. I don't even know how I'm doing what I'm doing right now, but I'm doing it. Through the breath of God, I'm grateful to have all these good things happening. I'm grateful to be in Rap Fanatic and the Source. It's a great thing and it's great knowing that it's because of you. I don't owe nobody else nothing and I don't have to look over my shoulder. It's a great thing.
How much work goes into grinding as an independent artist if you really want to make moves and cover the important bases?
It's a lot of work. I wake up every day around 8:30-9:30 and get on my phone. I get on my Sidekick and the internet. I'm on the phone with you or we're emailing each other back and forth. It's just hard work, but you're not going to get nothing without hard work. Whoever puts in the most work is going to get the most out of it. That's how I look at it. I'm putting in the most work and I'm trying to get the most out of it. I got a staff and I pay 5-6 people with official paychecks. We're real structured. The Cash Administration is structured and we're making so much noise. I'm big out in Maryland and Virginia. And I'm heavy in New York. I'm a household name in New York. It's just a great thing, man. I got all the relationships. Big shouts to Real Talk DVD, The Come Up DVD, SMACK and Back Streets. I built it up and it's kind of easy, because I built up such a buzz when I was doing it with my own production company, but now that I got my own thing, they see me as a hustler. I had to hustle to get to where I'm at. I just took a more hands-on approach to everything and it's working out pretty good in my favor.
DJ Kay Slay is one of the first DJs to play you. What does his support mean to you?
It meant a lot. Me and Slay are still cool to this day. I try to keep up with him and he plays one of my records every now and then. It was great. It was a good look to be acknowledged by a legend in this game. He's a cool dude. He put me on. DJ Enuff of the Heavyhitters was the dude to give me a spin when I did a remix with Raphael Saddiq. That was real early in my career. Then me and my management met up with Kay Slay and Kay Slay took off with me. I was on every show and every mixtape for two and a half years. This was before he had Papoose and when he was in the process of having Papoose. Before all these guys came out, I was popping and I helped a lot of dudes get to where they are. I paved the way for a lot of underground artists that y'all listen to today. I paved the way for a lot of these artists and I don't get the credit. I don't want the credit. My credit is when I get offstage at SOB's and 14-154 people are telling me that I did my thing. I know that a lot of people are watching. When I got offstage, Capitol Records was asking to set up a meeting with me after the holidays. That's where I get my notoriety. All of these artists are doing their thing and I love everybody that has something to do with hip-hop. I'm just trying to pave my way and do what I gotta do. In 2008 I'm going to make my mark and it's going to be real serious. Cashmere and The Cash Administration is going to be a monument in hip-hop.
You really utilized the mixtapes when you were coming up, but a big problem artists who use the mixtapes seem to have a hard time getting albums out. Do you regret anything about taking the mixtape route?
I don't regret nothing about taking the mixtape route because at the time I was coming out and still today, the mixtape outlet was an outlet for people to hear your music. At the same time,. I've never been a mixtape artist. That's why I'm separated from a lot of these artists doing it. A lot of times artists get signed and they don't even have a hit record. The thing about Cashmere is that I have hit records in the stash that they haven't heard. They've only heard what I've put on the mixtapes and that leaked to the internet. I got real records that I had on the mixtapes and I've had labels hollering at me. The transition to that is that people have to make better music. You have to make the transition to a bigger audience unless you want to stay on your block and get on mixtapes. You're not going to go any further.
As far as me and how I feel about the mixtapes, I feel that they helped my career genuinely. It seems like right now in this day and age in hip-hop, that section of hip-hop is getting oversaturated. The internet is like the big thing that I'm really trying to take over because that's the future. I'm really trying to hit the internet hard and get it out there and at the same time, keep my mixtape buzz up and my DVD buzz up and hit y'all with my own mix CD and let y'all know that I'm doing my own thing. That's why on The Proposal Part 2 with P-Cutta, I didn't want to hit y'all with freestyles. My spit game is amazing, but I'm not here to spit on the block all day. I can spit for the masses. It's street-oriented because it's a mixtape, but if you listen to my music, you're going to know that I make good music and you're going to ask why this guy isn't signed yet.
How much longer do you think you'll be unsigned for?
I don't think much longer. I'm not going to disclose anything ,but I had a meeting with SRC and it was looking good. Shouts out to Reality, an A&R over there. We stay in contact and we're speaking daily. He came and checked me out at SOB's and it was incredible. I killed that show. Big shout out to Threshold. I'm going to be at the UMA's this year also. Last year I was locked up for them but this year I'll be there. It's just a good thing to be out there doing my thing. But as far as how long am I going to be unsigned for, I don't think it's going to be very long. A lot of majors and independents are reaching out. I'm just waiting for that phone call in the first quarter that says they want to work. I also do R&B songs and R&B hooks. I do it all.
Cashmere is one of the hottest out. Ask other artists about Cashmere and they'll tell you about Cashmere and that the man is definitely the truth. I don't think I'm going to be unsigned for too long. A lot of people try to get at me, but I've been through that. It's a risky game out here, plus I'm making money independently on my own CDs right now. Hip-hop's been good to me on the low, so it is a good thing. But as far as me being unsigned for much longer, it won't happen.
The Heroin Project is coming out in 2008 on an independent or major.
How did being locked up hurt your progress in the game?
Of course it set me back because I was locked up for seven months. But at the same time, it made me realize a lot of things. I was moving fast before I got locked up and I ain't never been in as much trouble as I was in. I was facing some time. I was facing 5-7 years. Through the grace of God, I got a good lawyer and I only did seven months and got out. What I copped to was less than what it was and the case was dismissed. I did my time and now I'm home through the blessings of God. The only reason I'm home is because of the blessings of God. It only made me stronger. I came out with a plan.
Before I was locked up, I had a plan but I wasn't executing it like I wanted to. This made me sharper and it made me realize that I could lose everything and it made me realize that I needed to control everything. I definitely had to humble myself. And I just kept praying and praying and the next thing you know, I was home. Some things stopped, but at the same time, it's helping me because I've only been out seven months and look at what I'm doing. I'm involved in so much right now as far as hip-hop is concerned. It's just a great thing and a great feeling. It took its toll and it took a toll on my mom also, but now I'm taking what I learned in jail and applying it to everything today.
How's your debut album The Heroin Project coming?
Oh, it's coming along crazy. I got about 20 songs to choose from, but I got about eight that I know are going to fit in and I'm trying to exploit those to the world. There's eight crazy songs. I have a song "My Story" where I'm explaining everything that's been going on with me. This is my baby and I'm taking my time on it. You're going to get production from so many artists and a few features on there. The Heroin Project is going to be one of the hottest albums of 2008, independently or major. I'm working on it by myself. As you know, it's amazing.
I'm trying to really keep that with me, but it's coming along great. I've never felt so good about a project like this since I've been in hip-hop. I've been working, working, working, but now I'm just having fun with it and I'm loving hip-hop and The Heroin Project is like my gem right now. It's my diamond in the rough. I got J. Scrilla and GQ Beats and the Dream Team. Who else do I got? I got so many producers. I get probably 10 CDs of beats a week. Y'all be on the lookout for The Heroin Project. It's coming in 2008 and when you see this on the internet and in your stores or if you download it for free, I don't care, it's going to be crazy. If you don't have The Heroin Project in 2008, you'll be missing a large part of hip-hop. I will be leaking some joints to HipHopGame and when I say it's going to be crazy, it's going to be bananas.
What's the next move for Cashmere as we head into 2008?
I'm just working. I had meetings with other labels and everything, but what I'm working on now is The Heroin Project. I have a mixtape coming called The Prince of the City with P-Cappa. Me and P-Cutta are going to put out another mixtape. Kay Slay was actually supposed to host The Proposal Part 2 but he's busy trying to get Papoose a new deal and I didn't want to bother him with it. But Kay Slay hosted the first Proposal. The Proposal Part 2 is like me getting back to business and me reinventing myself. But The Heroin Project is next. The labels are hollering at me and y'all are going to have to wait to see what's next. I don't even know. I could get a call and be out of here in the next 3-4 weeks. But my next move and what I'm working on now is The Heroin Project. That's going to be a classic album. I'm looking to get nothing less than a 4 out of 5 on it. I want a 5 but you know how the critics do.
How much attention do you pay to the critics out there?
(laughs) I pay a lot of attention, but a lot of it goes in one ear and out the other because I don't even know a lot of critics. I read your column every go 'round and you're really in-depth so I listen to you. You know this. When I gave you The Proposal Part 2, I asked for your honest opinion. You can tell me this shit is trash and tell me it's garbage and I'll respect that. But I don't pay too much attention to the critics because they'll hate on you regardless. Look at the comments that me and these artists be getting. I listen to the critics and I have no choice but to listen to them because I'm in hip-hop and they're fans, but I'm going to do me and make the music I think the fans will like because that's what got me here in the first place. So I pay attention, but I don't get overindulged in what they say because then I'll be ready to kill somebody! (laughs)
What do you want to say to everybody?
Right now, in 2008, it's about Cashmere and The Cash Administration. Y'all know who I am and y'all know what I'm about. I'm about good music, point blank. I'm not about none of this beefing stuff. Go cop The Proposal Part 2 and please be on the lookout for The Heroin Project. I don't want to hear anybody biting my name. The Heroin Project will be out in 2008 and please support that. I want to send a shout out to the whole Cash Administration and Brooklyn. Anybody that knows I got love for them, what's good? Go cop The Heroin Project and The Proposal Part 2 that's out there right now. Be on the lookout for Cashmere in 2008. It's mine.