Cassidy: Only God Can Judge Me

Todd Davis

To say the man born Barry Adrian Reese, or as he is professionally known, Cassidy, has overcome adversity, would be a gross understatement. In 2005, the Philly native emcee was charged and arrested for the murder of a 22 year old man during an April shooting. He was later convicted of a lesser crime, involuntary manslaughter and two counts of aggravated assault, and ultimately sentenced to serve eleven-and-a-half to 23 months at Pennsylvania’s Curran-Fromhold Correctional Facility. And, if that wasn’t enough for one mortal individual to endure, just a little over seven months later Cassidy was seriously injured in a motor vehicle accident when a U-Haul sized commercial truck collided with the SUV he was riding as a passenger in. He was immediately taken to the Jersey City Medical Center where he was diagnosed with a fractured skull and several broken bones on the left side of his face.

Rap Industry Dot Com recently tracked down the 25 year old wordsmith, who has since made a full recovery, both physically and spiritually, and is finally ready to drop his third, and by far most introspective, solo project, the appropriately titled, B.A.R.S. {an acronym for: (The) B.arry A.drian R.eese S.tory}…

What’s up, man?

Cassidy: Hello.

Everything’s good?

Cassidy: Yep.

Let’s just get right into your new album, which has gone through a couple of transformations, title included, just as you have — What’s the reasoning behind the change? 

Cassidy: Well, I was coming up with a couple of album titles for my third album and since I went through so much serious situations (with) my last trials and tribulations in the last couple of years, I knew that it was gonna be a more serious album and an album that was gonna help people to know me as a person. So, I wanted just to have a serious title, but a lot of the things that I was thinking about using was titles that other people were gonna be able to use or flip around, or it wasn’t like an original title. It was like slogans and slang and phrases that was in the hood forever. Like for instance, not saying that it was a (bad) album title, (but) I was gonna call my album It Is What It Is. That’s like a slogan that’s been in the hood that’s kinda, like, legendary that I made real popular that’s just floating around a lot. But, anybody can call their album It Is What It Is, or anybody can name a song ‘It Is What It Is,’ so I wanted to be more original with it. And, I feel as though B.A.R.S. is perfect because I was locked behind bars, I’m cool spittin’ bars, and my name is Barry Adrian Reese, that’s my biological name, so Barry Adrian Reese spells out B.A.R.S. So, I felt as though it’s the perfect title, and it was an original title ’cause nobody else could call their album Barry Adrian Reese.

For you, what’s the biggest difference between, say, this record and your first two CD’s, Split Personality and I’m a Hustla?

Cassidy: It’s a big difference between this album and my first two albums. First of all, when I first got signed I was seventeen, so I started putting together my first album and my second album at a young age before I got experience at making songs and making hits. I knew how to rap. I was the hottest at spittin’ punch lines and spittin’ bars, but making a hit song was kinda hard for me at first. So now, I’m more mature with that. That’s a reason why it’s different than (the first two). Plus, I just beat a murder, I mean attempted murder (charge), I just survived a life threatening accident, I got a son that’s about to turn 4 years old, (and) I’m a successful rap artist now. So, it’s like I’m traveling the world, I done been to Finland, places that I’ve never even heard of before, (so) ‘course I’m gonna be saying, like, different things, (and) I’m gonna be talking about (stuff that) is gonna be different, more mature. And, I’m bettering my relationship with God, so I’m bringing that to the table a lot on this album. It’s definitely completely different from my first two albums.

How were you able to find the strength to still keep your music career going even while experiencing so much tragedy in your own personal life? 

Cassidy: Well, I didn’t actually pursue it while it was going on, but right after I recovered from the accident and right after I got out of jail (is) when I started working again. But, while I was going through what I was going through I was mainly focusing on my health and strength to get back out on the streets and things like that. But, I never was concerned about my career. Like I never felt as though my career was in danger ’cause I always knew I was talented (in) music, and I always knew I wasn’t a gimmick rapper or wasn’t a fluke. I knew that I really rapped, so I never felt as though that was a problem. I just was more concerned about getting back on the streets, (and) recovering from the accident. (I was) more concerned about my health and strength, opposed to just my career, me coming back with my career, but being to the fact that I knew I always had it in me, and I knew that I always was good at doing this, (this time) I was (more) motivated to tell the world my story and tell the world how I overcame what I overcame. And, the only way I did it was having a relationship with God. That’s the only way I was able to go through what I went through in such a short period of time, and still have the same mentality, if not a better personality, you understand? It’s like I grew. I became a better person, and it’s hard to go through those situations and be the same or become a better person. So, that’s how I was able to stay hungry, and (still) want to just work hard and come with this next project, come with this whole next level of music. When I was going through the accident, and when I went to jail, I seen a lot of people like running with my ideas and taking ideas that I came up with and running with it and making it popular. And, people was giving them the credit like they was the ones that came up with it, and not that I felt bad about it I was definitely flattered, and I knew that people were actually respecting what I did if they were gonna take it from me, but at the same time I knew that I was a step ahead of the game if people were taking what I did. So, I knew if I came back out and I had a story that everybody know I went through to tell, and I’m a step ahead of the game with being creative, I knew that it was gonna all be perfect, and it was gonna all work out right, exactly how its working out now. I got the number one song in a lot of places, I’m in the top three in every other major market, so it’s like my video just came out (and) it’s, like, it’s already a number one song. Before the video even dropped, before we even really put any money behind it, so I could hit the road and get it famous and it’s already big. So, I could see the difference. ‘Hotel’ and ‘I’m a Hustla,’ none of the singles that I’ve ever had made it to the level that ‘My Drink N’ My 2 Step’ is on already.

When did the Cassidy saga first begin?

Cassidy: I always been into (it), interested in rap. My mom and my dad were into rap before I was even born, so I always (knew) rap, but I really started doing it and going hard with rap music when I was about fourteen about to turn fifteen. That’s when I started taking it serious, and going hard and writing more often, and really trying to get better (or) considering myself to be a rapper. That’s around the time I got interested. I started rapping for about a year, (then) jumped on this thing called The Cipher in Philly at 103.9 (The Beat). That’s when they had local artists call up and battle each other, and I started to win that (for) months at a time, and that’s how I became famous in my city. And eventually, I ran into my manager. He was my manager, and he was Swizz (Beatz’) father, and Dee & Waah (of Ruff Ryders’ fame) was his brothers. My road manager, that (was) his (other) brother, too, but before all that he’s the one I met in Philly, in a barbershop, and he brought me out to New York and introduced me to the Ruff Ryders’ family. And, that’s how I signed a Ruff Ryder deal with Larsiny family. In the beginning, that’s how I got my relationship with Swizz. That’s how I just got in the game period, so that’s how it went.

[FYI; His, now, infamous rap battle victory over The Roc’s Freeway took place on The Cipher] 

When you first signed with the Ruff Ryders’ camp you weren’t actually rapping as a soloist, you were part of the group, Larsiny, correct? So, how did you wind up going solo?

Cassidy: I always was a solo artist. I was a solo artist (at) first, like when I told you I was on the radio show and things like that. It was me by myself. Me and Larsiny family is more like a squad, more like a family, opposed to just being like a group. But, we knew each other rapped, we knew everything about each other, but we wasn’t a group. So, when I got my opportunity to sign with Ruff Ryders, I didn’t want to just be greedy and do it (all) by myself, so I brought them along with me, so that they can sign the deal with me (and) so that they can have an opportunity to do they thing, too. But, I was always a solo artist, so for me to talk it over with Swizz and go solo it wasn’t like a big adjustment because I was already being a solo artist.

[FYI; He, and his Larsiny family, Cal Akbar & Shiz Lansky, are in the midst of recording a, still untitled, group effort] 

What’s been your secret to staying on top of the game as far as your skills as an emcee go? 

Cassidy: Just always trying to step it up and improve. Even when the whole world is telling me that I’m the best, and I’m the best rapper that ever did it, I’m still gonna be trying to get better and improve. (I) always do that. A lot of dudes once they reach a certain goal they get comfortable, they kick they feet up, and they fall back. That’s definitely not something I’m gonna do. I’m always trying to reinvent myself. And, you know I’m a thinker, I’m always reading, I’m always praying, I’m always experiencing things. I’m gonna always have new things to talk about, so I feel as though that’s the key to my longevity. But, I’m working on a lot of other things at the same time. I got a lot of other things I’m working on, like (a) clothing line (that) I’m (gonna) start male modeling (for) through February. So, you’ll see me in all the magazines modeling Lot 29 gear. My billboard (is) up in Times Square (now). And, I’m having a battle competition where you call up a certain number, (215) 701-0998, call up and you battle people all around the country. We trying to find one of the best battlers in the whole world, or in the whole country, to be down with Larsiny family. So, that’s what I’m looking forward (to) doing that. And, I’m doing a movie with (video director) Benny Boom, like a comedy similar to, like, Friday, one of those type movies, (and) I’m gonna be in that movie. I got a lot of scripts that I’m reading over. Like a lot of people want me to do movies. I’m definitely gonna put a movie with my life story together, so as soon as I get this (B.A.R.S.) project off the ground, I’m gonna definitiely shoot my own movie about my life story. I’m writing a book right now (too). So, it’s a lot of other things that I’m into and in, and that I’m looking forward to getting into, in the near future that’s gonna give me longevity, too. Not just with the music (either). Like I’m gonna try to get into other things that’s gonna make it (all) balance out.

Where exactly do you see yourself at ten years down the road? 

Cassidy: Ten years down the line, you know you never know, man, anything can happen any day, you understand? You (just) never know, man. I just see myself trying to better my relationship with God, praying everyday and just maintaining my relationship with him, and being faithful to him and believing in him. And, that’s most important right there. (If I’m) broke, rich, healthy, whether I’m not (healthy), whether I’m fat, whether I’m skinny, whether I’m…It don’t really matter as long as I believe in God, (and) as long as I got the belief. (I) try to make it simple as possible, (so) that’d be good.

Thanks, man, for taking time out of your super busy schedule to talk with me?

Cassidy: Appreciate you, too. Just keep God first, man, understand no matter what, keep God first, man.