Will Carjacking Charges Derail Kadillak Kaz's Hip-Hop Career?

With a deal with Snoop Dogg in the works, the rapper was about to hit hip-hop heaven. Now he faces decades behind bars. But is he guilty?

One evening, after leaving the 2012 premiere of Snoop and Wiz Khalifa's stoner comedy, Mac and Devin Go to High School, Kadillak found himself with a bone-dry gas tank and no money to spare. He remembers rolling, just barely, into an empty strip-mall parking lot a few miles from his house and waiting for a friend to come pick him up. Even with all his double-life strife, the month before getting arrested in OC, Kadillak's talks with Doggystyle had him feeling confident he'd get signed. But he was trapped by the idea that he couldn't tell him how bad his situation really was. A deal was imminent, but the question was how long would it take to make it happen?

"At the time, I just felt like, 'Damn, there's a million people out there who rap, and I'm here'," he says. "I was surrounded by all this stuff, and at the same time, it was hard because I was trying to play my role and not open up too much to let them know how much I was really struggling. If they only knew."

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Ruben Martinez
Ruben Martinez

It's Jan. 27, the weekend before the start of his trial at Central Justice Center in Santa Ana, and nervousness is tattooed all over Kadillak's face. He's nearing his 70th day in jail without a trial. The hearing, which was supposed to have started 60 days after his arrest, has been continued twice. Meanwhile, his public defender has come back to him with options for a plea deal Kadillak is refusing to take. The potential 23-year sentence he faced walking into jail has been bargained down to seven years with a guilty plea. After years of not knowing the legal system and pleading out to various charges and accepting whatever deals are offered to him, cutting a deal is the last thing Kadillak wants.

At age 33, the time he spends in jail kills his chances of a rap career. He'd been so close. But he also realizes that in Orange County, even though the case against him is weak, the odds are stacked against him. Attempts to locate and subpoena the testimony of the ex-girlfriend who called the police about her car being stolen have gone nowhere.

While locked up, he says, he has studied law, written songs (10 new tracks so far) and started working on an untitled book about his life. He remains focused on getting out and going home, though he doesn't know exactly where that is. If he does get out, he'll still be homeless, and though Skyballin will still be his mentality, he no longer has the actual studio.

His top priority after leaving jail: finishing Late Nights, Early Money and selling enough units to Japan put money down on an apartment outside Orange County. Then there's the task of reconnecting with the Doggystyle label to hash out a deal that will put some money in his pocket. Above all is the idea of freedom, the freedom to be that dude who survived the system, that dude who finally wised up and got his life together, that dude who can rap.

"Sometimes, I look at my life, and I feel like Job from the Bible," he says. "God took everything from Job and allowed him to be tested. Even though he cursed God, he never questioned him, he never lost his faith. And that's been me. I lost everything because of the time I did. Now it's my time to get it all back tenfold. I see it all manifesting now. I'm about to get outta here; this is not my destiny."

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