For a guy who is just starting to live every young rapper's dream of getting his shot on a major tour, it seems odd that “I Ain't Happy” is the most popular song from local IE-based rapper Cashius Green.
“[I wrote it during] one of those times where I was very confused and that music was my way of escaping that,” Green says. “It really takes me back to that time so I can't listen to [it] all the time.” When he recorded it, Green's focus on the future was blurry at best. For him, rapping was something he'd been good at but, he wasn't sure he was ready to jump into the music business. “Do I want to rap, or veer off into this pimp shit or whatever else?” he remembers thinking.
Fortunately, Green's decision to take rapping seriously is starting to pay off. At the time of creating his debut release Sunny Side Up, Green was bouncing back and forth between the Koreatown apartment of fellow local rapper and colleague Speak and his old neighborhood in Moreno Valley. Life wasn't exactly at his highest peak, but it was just another of many evolutionary periods in his nomadic life.
Since birth, Green has journeyed and lived all across the southern part of this state. Unlike many rappers who hold firmly to the idea of a singular regional identity, he embraces the idea of having a more vast foundation that encompasses many local connections. “I lived a lot of places, I travel a lot,” he says. “I lived in Orange County, Carson, Riverside, Moreno Valley… I've pretty much been everywhere in southern California, and I plan on keep doing that. I never plan on saying 'I'm from there' or from a distinct city,” he says.
It was out in the more eastern end of the Inland Empire in Moreno Valley where Green began to form into the artist he is now. “I moved out to Moreno Valley and started going dumb with the music, in a good way,” he says, laughing. “I learned a lot of shit in Moreno Valley, I met a lot of cool artists. Moreno has a lot of artist; honestly, there's a lot of talent in that city, a lot. You definitely get a lot of positive things out of Moreno Valley; I have, definitely.”
Moreno Valley is where Green honed his rap skills, but his style sounds to be strictly of the south, and not California's south. On first listen, you might consider Green to be a product of a Texas or Georgia city days away from the far nestled corners of Riverside county. He adopts the slick style of Texas pitboss Pimp C and Atlanta's "time traveling, rhyme javelin, mind unraveling” Andre 3000, and molds and melds it to his own creative temperature.
"I respect it a lot [Southern rap]. It's a genre that's been respected more than what it is. Not Andre 3K wise, but Pimp C and UGK wise. Look at the shit he raps about, it's the passion it. He can go from vulgar and angry to high-pitched and smooth. It's the balance, they're real balanced. They don't necessarily let the genre make them.”
Green's uniquely un-Californian approach to rap music has caught the attention of record executive legend Sylvia Rhone, who just recently signed him to her new label effort Vested in Culture. As a part of a branch of Epic Records, Green may no longer truly be an “independent artist,” but he still holds the same spirit. His vision for his future and his creativity is seemingly boundless. He's on tour now, opening up for Ab-Soul and Joey Bada$$ and afterwards is immediately headed to the studio to work on an album, but there's a new evolution he has sights on.
“I want to excel at this rap stuff, but I really want to be a musician. I want to learn how to play instruments, I want to learn how to sing better, I want to expand everything. I feel like rap is a box, right now I'm thinking outside the box. Few years from now I might be in a traveling band, playing piano — I can't even call it right now.”
Cashius Green performs tomorrow with Ab Soul and Joey Bada$$ at the Observatory. See full details here.