Cashh, the 27-year-old rapper from south London, appears to have lived so much more life than his age suggests. Although he grew up in the UK, he was actually born in the Park Lane area of Kingston, Jamaica, and his musical journey arguably began there – in the middle of the home of reggae and dancehall music.
Speaking to BuzzFeed News about Zoom, Cashh said he grew up partying. Some of his earliest musical memories are of lying in bed at night listening to the music from afar, but being too young to attend. However, it was not long before he went to these dances himself: the first time, according to his own assessment, he attended a party between the ages of 3 and 4 years.
That’s partly why it looks like he lived so much: he had confidence and navigated the world from an early age, surrounding himself with people older than him. These experiences are even documented by one of the elders who took him to the dances on the intro of his 2020 track “Trench Baby”.
As with a lot of people, Cashh said his favorite older brother inspired him to make music – he told BuzzFeed News that he was “the kid who was always with him in the studio or around the house.” Chance to put a verse over a song.
His brother isn’t his only musical inspiration. What inspired him was the ability to entertain and educate at the same time. In doing so, he strives to drop gemstones – if only a few. “Being able to put stories together – especially from real experiences – is one of my favorite things to do in music making,” he said.
But his life wasn’t all fun and games, and he had to face one of the most difficult experiences anyone could possibly have had at the worst possible time. After spending most of his young life in the UK – and causing a stir for his music under the name Cashtastic – he was deported to Jamaica by the Home Office in 2014.
When discussing the deportation, Cashh admitted that it gave him life experience. “It humbled me,” he told BuzzFeed News. “It made me a lot more vigilant and militant. It made me a lot more vulnerable. “
“It was a crazy experience, but I know I needed it – to move forward in my life.”
He returned to the UK five years later and changed his stage name from Cashtastic to simply Cashh.
“Moving from Cashtastic to Cashh was really a move back,” he said. “I started the game as Cashh. My name is actually Cashief, so if you subtract that ‘ief’ that’s Cashh. “
There was one more element to the change, however – growth and the feeling that it no longer matches the Cashtastic name.
Cashh said he felt a lot more connected to himself after the experience of returning to Jamaica and having time to understand himself better and that is why he wanted to be as faithful as possible on his return to the UK.
Cashh’s latest project – the appropriately titled mixtape The Return of the Immigrant, due out in August – has been in the works for five years. Due to his nature as an avowed perfectionist, Cashh has recorded and optimized the music for this project since his stay in Jamaica.
As we thought about the Jamaican version of the project – and how it changed – our discussion turned to afro swing, and how it shares its core with dancehall, and then to the introduction of drill as the dominant sound in the UK.
This new sound made Cashh feel like he had to strike a balance between the more melodic music he had made in Jamaica and that rougher, rougher sound that he knew his music would be next to him.
Now with new music on the horizon, we talked about his recording process. It’s pretty unorthodox: Cashh prefers to be in the studio with the producer while the beat is being made. But even if that’s not possible, he likes to be in the studio when he hears a beat for the first time. He doesn’t write either – at least not in the typical sense of sitting down and writing. Instead, he does everything in his head based on his gut reaction to everything he hears.
“It could be melodies coming, it could be flow patterns, it could be a few things that come to mind,” Cashh said. “But I have to get this down when I hear the music for the first time.”
He then fills in the gaps with the texts – and he likes to do all of this in the dark. It’s for focus. When he’s recording, he doesn’t want to be distracted by anything.
Aside from the music, Cashh has big plans. A documentary is in the works, it’s launching a clothing line called “The Proud Immigrant”, and more. But even though he’s booked out and busy, he’s still focused on the music – and that’s what he wants other people to focus on too.
“Anyone who’s ever been a huge fan of mine and knows what I’ve been through … you don’t really get a second chance,” Cashh said. “But I feel like I have a second chance.”
Linked to this is the friendliness and the desire to help all those people who still support him – and in this respect the music speaks for itself.
Cashh’s single “Return of the Man” is out now.