SF Exclusive Interview With Cazzie Jetson: purpleHearted Veteran
Had a nice long chat with Cazzie Jetson the other day. He covered a lot of topics over the course of our conversation, including upcoming projects with purpVarsity and THEBLKHANDS, his performance at Jay-Z’s Made in America music festival, what motivates and inspires him, who THEBLKHANDS would face at Wrestlemania, and a lot more. Hit the cut for the full interview.
Straight Fresh: We appreciate you taking time to sit down with Straight Fresh for an interview. First things first – tell the readers who aren’t familiar with you who Cazzie Jetson is.
Cazzie Jetson: Well I’m James Thomas Chandler LaRue, aka Cazzie Jetson, aka Sir Cazzington McFly Jetsonian The 3rd Jr., The Rapper, Producer and Clothing Designer.
Straight Fresh: Can you explain what got you into music in the first place? And why be a rapper?
Cazzie Jetson: Well my father always had me growing up with music, mainly oldies and jazz. That led me to a nightly addiction to this radio station, WJJZ 106.1, Smooth Jazz & R&B (Rest in Peace). I fell in love with the styles of music.
With Rap, I grew up in the hood. In middle school, battle rap was all the craze. Cassidy, Meek Mill, (Meek Millz back then) and etc. So all the students were battle rapping, and I was the nerd who wore high water pants. So I started rapping to fit in, and it just started there. Plus my cousin who I started Purp with rapped with me, so we tagged off of each other
Straight Fresh: How’d you do in those early battles?
Cazzie Jetson: I always killed the other rapper. There was this time in class where I was rapping so much, I didn’t realize class had started and everyone was just sitting down staring at me rapping. It was bad.
Straight Fresh: Haha, did your teacher appreciate that?
Cazzie Jetson: She just shook her head and carried on with the lesson lol. It was cool though, dude never battled me again, I’ll tell you that. That was an old Cazzie though, well, Caswell at the time.
Straight Fresh: I’m sure with age and experience you’ve changed a lot since then, as an emcee and as a person. In terms of you as a rapper, how is the Cazzie Jetson of today different in comparison to the old Caswell?
Cazzie Jetson: Well Cazzie just doesn’t care. Caswell did what he did to get popularity, it was never really me. Plus I held myself back because of fear of what others would think. But Cazzie writes music, it’s from the heart. If I rap about a situation, you can bet your ass it really happened. Also Caswell had high waters and rapped about guns.
Straight Fresh: You mention how if you rap about something, it really happened. Brings me to my next question. One of my favorite things about your music is the open and honest emotion. You don’t seem afraid to put your life – past, present, and future – out there on wax. Would you mind opening up a little for this interview and explaining what drives and motivates you and your music? What have you gone through in your life that inspired projects like Son of My Mother, Jetsonia and The Mighty?
Cazzie Jetson: Well my very first album was called Jay LaRue Vs the dreamKillers. This was towards the end of the Caswell-tryna get buzz-Era. But this was also around the time my mom was killed as a result of domestic violence. I was so caught up in trying to get buzz that I forgot to be me and pour my heart out…which resulted in Son of My Mother. It’s therapy. Also relationships play a big role.
Straight Fresh: Relationships with females? Friends? Can you explain that a little more?
Cazzie Jetson: Females mainly. Coming up in the SOMM era, I was really coming into the realization that this music is what I really wanted to do and focus on, and that doesn’t bode well for relationships…especially in Philly where everyone wants to be a rapper. It’s a stereotype, really. Girls take me seriously now, though lol.
Straight Fresh: Haha, how many times has your heart been broken by a female? And, on that note, how many hearts have you broken?
Cazzie Jetson: Mannn, I lost count on the first question haha. It’s all good though. But I’ve broken my fair share of hearts. That was the inspiration of my song “Baby Boy”, I had to ask that question of whether my mom would approve.
Straight Fresh: One of my favorite tracks from The Mighty. Proof of your ability to wear your heart on your sleeve.
Cazzie Jetson: Thanks man, it’s still tough to listen to.
Straight Fresh: This sounds cliche, but you can definitely feel the heart and emotion that goes into that song. Alright, I think it’s clear by listening to your music that you’re a very intelligent person. To the point a lot of people probably miss the meaning of your lyrics upon the first listen. That’s not a bad thing though. Do you credit that to education, life experience, or a combination of both?
Cazzie Jetson: I think it’s a little bit of both, more so education. I was put on punishment a lot as a kid and a lot of my cousin’s old high school books were still in my room. So with no TV and no toys, that was the only resort lol. I want to make people look stuff up and do their research. Example: On “Waiting on Jesus” I said, “This world is full of Black Widows like Natasha Romanoff”. No one caught that until Iron Man 2 and The Avengers came out. I had ENDLESS wall posts after that lol.
Straight Fresh: I respect that, especially as someone who wants to be a teacher. You’re making smart cool – something incredibly important in regards to reaching the youth these days. You’re making music that people can vibe to, but also music that makes you think. That’s a fine line a lot of artists struggle to walk – a dope sound that has substance and makes you think, makes you learn.
Cazzie Jetson: Yeah it’s always a struggle. I was rejected a lot by DJ’s coming up for making music that “people couldn’t get hype to”, so I figured, well, if you’re gonna dance, you might as well learn while you’re at it.
Straight Fresh: Man, I hope people understand how respectable and dope that is. You’ve clearly got the talent to make bangers, but you’re taking the high road – bangers that actually have serious and important meanings behind them.
Let’s go back for a second. These last few answers made me think about how you mentioned you’ve changed from your days as Caswell. Where did the name Cazzie Jetson come from? What’s the meaning behind that?
Cazzie Jetson: Well Caswell really was random. My rap name was TruBlu before this. I was like “Man. This is not a battle rapper name…” Then I saw “Caswell Beach, North Carolina”. My Family is based in NC, so I was like that’s dope. But I found out in college there’s a rapper named Cazwell and I don’t like cease-and-desist letters, I’ve had a few already. Cazzie Jetson was just a nickname, but I was like well…it sticks.
Straight Fresh: You were getting cease-and-desist letters for Caswell? Or have you gotten some since the name change?
Cazzie Jetson: Oh I got one for the “Jetsonian War Dance” skit on “Jetsonia”. Really complicated situation.
Straight Fresh: Glad it hasn’t stopped you from making music all together.
Cazzie Jetson: Oh no, I realized that’s part of the territory. I’m learning now as I’m getting deeper in the game how things go, especially the legal aspect.
Straight Fresh: Speaking of getting deeper in the game – not long after the release of ‘The Mighty’ you had the chance to perform at Jay-Z’s Made in America music festival. How’d that come about? What’d that mean to you, being added to such a huge festival that featured a star-studded line up? And, do you have any stories from the weekend you’d like to share?
Cazzie Jetson: Aww man, that was a crazy thing. It really was because of Leaf Madtic (of purpVarsity). His homie is part of this group Philly Future Talent with Live Nation. They had young artists but Live Nation required them to have artists over 21, so they had to gather some. Leaf threw him my name and it was history.
Story wise, I gotta say I was mad tired that day. I was chilling with Wale and the groupies were on me man. My homie East (from 2Cocky2Care, dope Philly group) was there. She was like “Are you staying for Hov?” I really didn’t have the energy but at the last minute I went, and it was epic.
Straight Fresh: Hov and the GOOD Music set too I bet. That festival was a great look for you, as far as exposure and getting your name out to even more people. Congrats on that entire experience. Leaf Madtic was responsible for that? That’s real cool, and this is a perfect chance to move into a few questions about purpVarsity. Speaking of Leaf for a second – his Better Than Nothing tape gets frequent play from me. Really a solid tape. You had a bunch of production credits on that tape, and some features. So before moving into purpVarsity discussion, when and why did you get into production? And is there any upcoming Cazzie produced joints we should be looking forward to?
Cazzie Jetson: Well in 10th Grade my journalism class had a Mac in the back of class with Garageband on it. Because I was a wiz in that class, I was always done early and right on [the computer]. Then my college (Temple University) had a music lab in it, and that was it. And I got a lot of joints on the upcoming Purp album purpAnarchy, LH’s project and Fenix’s album too. Also I’m working with this dope ass Philly artist named Ronald Raygun.
Straight Fresh: Nice, looking forward to hearing what you’ve got for those projects. With pV, you’re surrounded by a lot of talented artists. Can you explain the origins of purpVarsity? What’s your relationship like with the rest of that group?
Cazzie Jetson: Well pV started with my cousin John (stage name Lacy). It started as The Delinquents, and my cousin wasn’t having that. My great-uncle died in the Korean War, and his Purple Heart Medal is in my house, and we considered ourselves “wounded in the war of life”, so we became The Purple Heart Gangstaz. Then, Purple Heart Gentlemen…then purpVarsity. Gic really was the cameraman, but he became my right-hand man. John went to the Navy, I grew up with Leaf and Breed and Saif’s crew. Leaf brought in LH and Presh, and I brought in SirPHresh ‘cause we’re both dorks. We just molded as a family, we’re all ratchet and really crazy but we all bring something different to the table. Atilla (ILLA) was just a dope kid with potential talent that I met from KTT (KanyeToThe). I saw it in him and brought him in.
Straight Fresh: Finally understand the “Free Lacy” drops I’ve heard now. I’ve wondered who Lacy was for a minute. I’d also been curious about how you linked up with ILLA. The talent in that dude is overwhelming
Cazzie Jetson: Yeah man, he was a rising DJ back when I started to craft “Jetsonia”, and a lot of cats on KanyeToThe were making fun of his skills, and it reminded me of a young me. So I brought him in to host the tape and that was history.
Straight Fresh: It’s nuts how so much about pV seems like destiny or fate – like strange coincidences that were meant to happen. Speaking of ILLA, what led to him, Dominic Serendip, and yourself forming THEBLKHANDS?
Cazzie Jetson: Well Atilla was in a promo deal with his production, and he was working with me and working with Dominic, so we figured why don’t we bring our skills together . Dom has the off-the-wall melodies, I have the off-the-wall styles, and ILLA has the beats.
Straight Fresh: You guys definitely work well together. The blend of styles is unique, and the combined talent is impressive. You’ve had some established artists as features, including Big K.R.I.T. and Skyzoo. Recently the video for “Downtown”, which featured Skyzoo, received a lot of attention from the blogs. What’s the recent success been like for you?
Cazzie Jetson: It’s been wild man, really inspiring. Like I said before, Philly is a city where everyone is a rapper. So it’s hard for people to sift through everyone and see who’s real and take people serious, but these songs with these artists really force people to take my crew and me serious.
Straight Fresh: It’s got to be nice after all the work, time and dedication you’ve all put in. THEBLKHANDS recently annoucned the upcoming remixes to “I’m Gone”, set to feature Big K.R.I.T., Mr Muthafuckin’ eXquire, Troy Ave & Boogz Boogetz, as well as “Smoke Good, Live Good”, featuring Fenix and, together for the first time in years, Three Six Mafia. What else can we expect from THEBLKHANDS?
Cazzie Jetson: Well we got some joints with Lola Munroe and After The Smoke and A$AP Mob. The After The Smoke joint is a lot of people’s favorite so far.
Straight Fresh: Care to share when these tracks are expected to be released?
Cazzie Jetson: Well all the joints you mentioned plus our next single with Jay Saif should be out this November (we call it BLKNOV). The After The Smoke track is gonna be a movie, I don’t know when though. But every thing else, people have to listen to the album.
Straight Fresh: Next month though? That’s not a bad wait. We’ve discussed purpVarsity and THEBLKHANDS. What about your solo career? I had the pleasure of reviewing ‘The Mighty’ (Review: Cazzie Jetson – theMighty), which stands out to me as one of the most structurally sound releases in recent memory. Are you working on anything now in terms of solo projects?
Cazzie Jetson: Next week (shh) haha but solo-wise, nah not really. I’m just focused on the purpAnarchy album and THEBLKHANDS project, this crazy ass project with Jay Saif called “theAstroNOTS”, and this Fenix team-up joint. And me and Gic have a double joint we’ve been plotting for years upon years. I do have a plan though, people gotta stay tuned.
Straight Fresh: For sure. Staying busy though, that’s good to know. When Straight Fresh interviewed Fenix recently (Fenix – The Rolling Stoned Interview), he had some very kind things to say about you – “Cazzie is gonna be the greatest artist alive. On my life, I think he will be bigger than any of us”. What’s your relationship like with Fenix? And what’s it like knowing he thinks so highly of you?
Cazzie Jetson: Fenix is my big homie. Me and him go back to the KanyeLive days (youngins don’t know about that lol). He gives me advice when I need it, and vice versa. When he said that, I was shocked as hell, because Fenix is dope as hell himself.
Straight Fresh: He’s always holding down you, purpVarsity and THEBLKHANDS. What can we expect from the collaboration project you’re working on?
Cazzie Jetson: Man, I don’t even know. I think we’re gonna make a lot of memorable joints. His next single features THEBLKHANDS, produced by Jay Saif, with me on the chorus. That shit is my ringtone, b. I think that’s a big sign of things to come.
Straight Fresh: Now I gotta ask you some stereotypical rap interview questions. Who are your biggest musical influences?
Cazzie Jetson: Hall & Oates, Fallout Boy, Kanye West, Jay-Z and Lupe Fiasco. Oh and recently, Bobby Caldwell.
Straight Fresh: I’m sure you’ve heard the comparisons between you and Yeezy. Do you take that as a compliment or does it put pressure on you?
Cazzie Jetson: Well back in the day I copied him to a science. Now I just do me, so it’s more of a compliment now. A little pressure, just because I know I have to bring something new and radical to the table every project.
Straight Fresh: Do you have a favorite Kanye project?
Cazzie Jetson: The College Dropout, that showed me I can be myself as a rapper among a whole bunch of gangsta rappers. And 808′s & Heartbreak because it was my soundtrack during that whole time when I lost my mom and went through a breakup.
Straight Fresh: 808′s was slept on hard by most people. It’s cool to know you appreciated that album. When I first heard it, I didn’t like it, but over time I realized how special it really was. Ahead of its time, in my opinion. Autotune gets hated on, but Yeezy did it right in a hard way.
Cazzie Jetson: I look at Autotune as an instrument, just like a guitar or a keyboard. I get upset when I use it and someone’s like “Ok Yeezy”; that’s like looking at John Mayer playing guitar and saying, “I see you Jimi”; it’s an instrument.
Straight Fresh: Good comparison, I don’t think many people would consider looking at it like that. Do you ever think you’d make an album like 808′s, stepping outside what people might normally expect from you?
Cazzie Jetson: I’m definitely thinking about it. I wanna definitely step outside the box and do something that no one will expect; it’s hard because I try to do that every album, so when I finally do it, it’s gonna be something waaaaay left-field haha.
Straight Fresh: For sure, all the projects I’ve heard from you showcase your versatility and ability to switch styles. Something like 808′s might blow minds.
Cazzie Jetson: Haha stay tuned though, I definitely have something in the works, something that’s gonna connect a lot of eras in history between music and the film industry.
Straight Fresh: Dope! Let me get your top three emcees and producers of all time.
Cazzie Jetson: Emcee wise…I gotta say Kanye West, Hov, and Lupe. People always be like, “why no Biggie or Pac????” but people don’t know that during that era I was listening to Gospel and Oldies, lol. Producer wise, I gotta say Kanye, 9th Wonder, and The Alchemist. Honorable Mention Is The Heatmakers (classic Dipset oh God) and No ID.
Straight Fresh: Haha, for real though, I wouldn’t list those two in any top 3 or 5 G.O.A.T. list. Obviously they were greats, and their impact and influence are unquestionable. But what if they hadn’t died? What would they be like compared to a lot of artists today? Nobody knows, but even someone like Hov says, how can you compare them to anyone when they weren’t around to actually be competition with so many artists currently considered ‘great’.
Cazzie Jetson: That’s definitely true man. Their impact on hip-hop is without question though, without a doubt
Straight Fresh: If you could get any artist as a feature, either on a solo track of yours or with pV or THEBLKHANDS, who would it be? And on that same note, if you could have any producer to personally create a beat for you, who would it be?
Cazzie Jetson: I’m gonna keep Kanye out of this lol – uh it has to be between Hall & Oates and Owl City or Janelle Monae, aka my wife. Producer-wise, No ID.
Straight Fresh: To be honest, a track with you and Yeezy would be insane. That’d be too dope. I love that your answer includes Hall and Oates, man. Not something you’d expect from many emcees. If No ID made you a beat, do you have any idea what concept the song would have?
Cazzie Jetson: I don’t even know, something epic and heart-felt. And yeah man, Hall & Oates are Philly-bred and started at Temple University like me haha.
Straight Fresh: Nice, another cool connection I was unaware of. Now here’s something I’ve been looking forward to. I know you’re a professional wrestling fan and you frequently reference wrestling in your songs. So, being a huge fan myself, I have to ask you some wrestling related questions.
Cazzie Jetson: Let’s goooo! Lol.
Straight Fresh: Who is your favorite wrestler of all time? Or top 3 if you can’t choose one.
Cazzie Jetson: The Undertaker (preferably the motorcycle Big Evil version), The Rock, Stone Cold Steve Austin.
Straight Fresh: Attitude Era through and through. I feel that. How long have you been watching for? And what, if any, influence has it had on you?
Cazzie Jetson: Haha I used to love Too Cool! Especially with Scotty 2 Hotty and The Worm he did. When he came back a while ago and got no big reaction, I was so hurt man….
Straight Fresh: Haha, the kids these days don’t know what’s up.
Cazzie Jetson: And I’ve been watching since I was like 8. I stopped for a large chunk between 18 and like earlier this year. For some reason I watched Wrestlemania, and I’ve been re-hooked ever since. I even remember watching ECW back when it was on Channel 48 (a small local channel in Philly) when no one knew who or what it was. Wrestling reminds me of my childhood, and it’s dope that it has it own community, almost like my Comic-Book Community.
Straight Fresh: Always nice to hear from other wrestling fans. I remember posting your remix of “Pain” and telling you how much I enjoyed that Paul Heyman line. I never made the connection between you being from Philly and ECW.
It’s WrestleMania. Dominic Serendip and Cazzie Jetson are making their way to the ring, accompanied by ILLA. What song is playing during your entrance? Who are you guys in a match against? And what’s THEBLKHANDS finisher?
Cazzie Jetson: Hmmm…”Majestic”, produced by ILLA and A$AP ANT. That’s a crazy ass joint. We’re going up against The Rhodes Scholars, I hate Cody Rhodes. And our finisher, a modified version of The Dudley Boys 3D move. “D-VON!!!!! GET THE TABLESSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSS”. Haha classic!
Straight Fresh: Haha, nice! You guys heels or good guys?
Cazzie Jetson: I think we’d be the tweeners, doing bad things but always in the interest of good, like Stone Cold haha.
Straight Fresh: Those are always the most popular. One more question I just thought of. If you could have any current wrestler use your music as their entrance theme, who would it be? And what would it be?
Cazzie Jetson: “1980 State of Mind” (ft. Leaf Madtic, SirPHresh, Breed & iLLΔ). for Dolph Ziggler. I’m becoming a Dolphhead more and more, I wanna see him get the Heavyweight Championship. And that song is so swagger-ish, just like him, lol. And I’ll make a theme song for Wrestemania one day hopefully.
Straight Fresh: Cazzie Jetson performing live at Wrestlemania? Make sure to hook it up with a backstage pass. Alright man, I’m out of questions for you, though I’m’ sure I’ll end up thinking of something more as soon as I post this. Do you have any last words or thoughts you’d like to leave our readers with?
Cazzie Jetson: Well this was the best interview I’ve had in a while man, I appreciate all the love and support Straight Fresh has given us. I want everyone to definitely keep watch on purpAnarchy and THEBLKHANDS album, and also the return of ILLA’s group, Alcohol & Ecstacy. Keep supporting good music. And Free Lacy.
Straight Fresh: It’s been a pleasure talking with you man. You know Straight Fresh has always got you as well as the rest of purpVarsity and THEBLKHANDS. And of course we’re looking forward to hearing anything you’ve got for us in the coming weeks, months and years.
Cazzie Jetson: Thanks a lot man, most definitely. BLKNOV Coming Soon >:)
Straight Fresh: You can find Cazzie Jetson on Twitter below.
Cazzie Jetson (@KingCazzie)
Interview By: Zach Humphrey (@Zach_pusAfella)