Cashh, the 27-year-old rapper from south London, seems to have lived much longer than the number of years 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 probably began there – right at home with Reggae and Dancehall music.
Speaking to BuzzFeed News via Zoom, Cashh said he has grown up around parties. Some of his earliest musical memories are of sitting in bed at night and hearing music playing from a distance, but being too young to attend. But it wasn’t long before he went out to those dances himself: according to his estimate, the first time he attended a party was somewhere between the ages of 3 and 4 years old.
It is, in part, because he seems to have lived so long: he had confidence and sailed the world from a young age, surrounding himself with people older than him. These experiences are also documented by one of those seniors who brought him out to the dances on the introduction to his 2020 track “Baby Trench”.
As with many people, Cashh said his favorite older brother inspired him to go into music – he told BuzzFeed News that he was “that kid who was always with him in the studio or at home.” Finally, the brother offered him the chance to put a verse on a song.
His brother is not his only musical inspiration. What inspired him was the ability to have fun and educate at the same time. With this you strive to drop gems – even if only a few. “Being able to put stories together – especially from real life experiences – is one of my favorite things about making music,” he said.
But her life hasn’t been all about fun and games, and she has had to face one of the most difficult experiences anyone could face at perhaps the worst moment that could ever happen. Having spent most of his young life in the UK – and building a buzz around his music under the name Cashtastic – the Home Office deported to Jamaica in 2014.
Speaking of deportation, Cashh acknowledged that it gave him a life experience. “He humiliated me,” he told BuzzFeed News. “It made me a lot more vigilant and militant. It made me a lot more vulnerable.”
“It’s been a crazy experience, but it’s one I know – to move forward in my life – I need to.”
He returned to the UK five years later, and changed his stage name from Cashtastic to, simply, Cashh.
“The change from Cashtastic to Cashh has really been a return change,” he explained. “I started the game as Cashh. My real name is Cashief, so when I get the ‘ief’ out of it comes Cashh.”
There was another element to the change, though – one of growth, and a feeling that it was no longer aligned with the Cashtastic name.
Cashh said he felt much more in tune with himself after the experience of returning to Jamaica and having time to better understand himself, and with that, when he returned to the UK, he wanted to stay as true to yourself as possible.
Cashh’s latest project – the apt mixtape titled The Return of the Immigrant, coming out in August – has been in operation for five years. Because of his self-confessed perfectionist nature, Cashh has been recording and recording music for this project since he was in Jamaica.
When we tested on the version of the project made in Jamaica – and how it has changed – our discussion turned to Afro-swing, and how it shares its core with Dancehall, and from that, to the introduction of Drill as a dominant sound in the UK.
This new sound made Cashh feel that he had to find a balance between the more melodic music he had made in Jamaica, and this grittier, rawer sound that he knew his music would put next to it.
Now with new music on the horizon, we’re talking about their recording process. It’s pretty unorthodox: Cashh prefers to be in the studio with the producer since the beat is done, but even when it’s not possible, he likes to be in the studio the first time he hears a beat. He doesn’t write either – at least, not in the typical sense of sitting down and putting the pen to paper. Instead, he does everything in his head based on his intestinal reaction to everything he hears.
“It could be melodies coming, it could be flow patterns, it could be a couple of things coming to me,” Cashh explains. “But I need to drop that the first time I hear the music.”
Then he fills in the gaps from there with the tests – and he likes to do it all in the dark. It’s about focus. When he registers, he doesn’t want to be distracted by anything.
Aside from the music, Cashh has a lot to come by. There’s a documentary in operation, launching a clothing line called The Proud Immigrant, and so much more. But despite being reserved and busy, he still has his focus on music – and it’s on what he wants other people to focus on as well.
“Someone who’s always been a core fan of me and is aware of what I’ve been through … You don’t really get a second chance,” Cashh said. “But I think I have a second chance.”
With that comes a grace and a desire to deliver to all those people who always support him – and, in this respect, music speaks for itself.