Cash, the 27-year-old rapper from south London, appears to have lived a lot more life than the number of years in his age might suggest. Although he was raised in the UK, he was actually born in the Park Lane area of Kingston, Jamaica, and arguably his musical journey began there – in the home of reggae and dancehall.
Speaking to BuzzFeed News via Zoom, Cash said he grew up around partying. Some of his early musical memories are lying in bed at night listening to music being played from a distance, but he was too young to attend. It wasn’t long until he was going to those dances himself: by his own discretion, the first time he attended a party was somewhere between the ages of 3 and 4.
This is, in part, the reason why he seems to have lived a lot: He was confident and was circling the world since he was young, surrounding himself with people much older than him. These experiences were even documented by a senior who used to take him to dances in the lead of his 2020 track “Trench Baby.”
As with a lot of people, Cash said his favorite older brother inspired him to go to music — he told BuzzFeed News that he’s “that kid who’s always been with him in the studio or at home.” In the end, his brother offered him a chance to put a verse on a song.
His brother isn’t his only musical inspiration. What inspired him was the ability to entertain and educate at the same time. Yet he strives to drop gems – even if they are few. “Being able to put stories together – especially from real-life experiences – is one of my favorite things about making music,” he said.
But his life wasn’t full of fun and games, and he had to face one of the toughest experiences anyone could ever have at possibly the worst time that could happen. Having lived most of his young life in the UK – and making quite the buzz around his music under the name Cashtastic – Home Office His trip to Jamaica in 2014.
Speaking about the deportation, Cash admitted that it gave him a life experience. He told BuzzFeed News, “It humiliated me. It made me more vigilant and struggling. It made me more vulnerable.”
“It was a crazy experience, but one I know – in order to move on with my life – I needed it.”
He returned to the UK five years later, and changed his stage name from Cashtastic to simply Cashh.
He explained, “The change from Cashtastic to Cashh was really a backwards change. I started the game as Cashh. My real name is Cashief, so when you remove the ‘ief’, that’s where Cashh comes from.”
There was, however, another element to the change – the element of growth and the feeling that it was no longer compatible with the Cashtastic name.
Cash said he felt more in tune with himself after experiencing going back to Jamaica and getting time to understand himself better, however, when he returned to the UK, he wanted to stay true to himself as much as possible.
Cash’s latest project – the aptly titled mixed tape The return of the immigrant, comes out in August – has been working for five years. Due to his nature as a perfectionist, Cash has been recording and remixing music for this project since he was in Jamaica.
In investigating the Jamaican version of the project – and how it changed – our discussion veered towards Afro-swing, how it shared its essence with Dancehall, and then from that, to introducing Drill as the UK’s dominant sound.
This new sound made Cash feel like he had to find a balance between the more melodic music he had done in Jamaica, and that softer, more refined sound he knew his music would sit alongside.
Now with new music on the horizon, we’ve talked about his recording process. It’s a little unconventional: Cashh prefers to be in the studio with the producer during the beat, but even when that’s not possible, he loves to be in the studio the first time he hears a beat. Nor does he write – at least, not in the usual sense of sitting down and putting pen to paper. Instead, he does everything in his head based on his instinctive reaction to everything he hears.
“It can be melodies that come in, it can be flow patterns, and it can be some of the things that come to me,” Cash explained. “But I need to get rid of that the first time I hear music.”
Then he fills in the blanks from there with words – and he likes to do all this in the dark. It is for focus. When he scores, he doesn’t want to be distracted by anything.
Aside from the music, Cash has a lot more to come. There’s a documentary in the making, launching a clothing line called The Proud Immigrant, and much more. But even though he’s reserved and busy, he’s still focused on music – and that’s what he wants other people to focus on, too.
“Anyone who’s been a huge fan of me is aware of what I’ve been through… you don’t really get a second chance,” Cash said. “But I feel like I have a second chance.”
With that comes the kindness and desire to communicate to all those people who still support him – and in that respect, the music speaks for itself.