“Really, ever since I was a kid I’ve been around rhythm. I was born in Africa, so I was addicted to the sounds of drums and beats.”
From the West African nation of Liberia to the heart of Guinea, to the slums of Southwest Philadelphia, Mohammed Kaba has endured both poverty and incarceration. Through it all, music has been a saving grace. When he was six, Mohammed’s family immigrated to h
America. He soon noticed that in the U.S., music was everywhere – from radio to TV. He recalls boys at school and in the neighborhood taking rhythm and putting words on top of it. Though he wasn’t yet fluent in English, Mohammed was addicted.
On one fateful day in junior high school, Mohammed got into a fight with another boy in front of a store that served as the neighborhood hangout. He won the fight, and the older kids gave him his props. When he told them his name, they remarked “Ah, like Cassius Clay,” and started calling him Young Cassius. As Mohammed got older, he read books like The Art of Seduction and 48 Laws of Power. These texts strongly influenced his self-perspective, and he started to see himself as a king. “So I turned it to King Cashis,” he says. Noting the subtle wordplay, he adds, “Cash is…everything.”
Unlike much of today’s music, King Cashis says his music is actually music. “There’s a rhythm to it,” he explains. Though not easily impressed, he has been inspired by a few artists. Growing up, he was a big fan of Nas (and his older brother was an even bigger fan). In the house and in the car, it was Nas. He also cites J. Cole, Jay-Z and Kanye as artists with iconic flows.
As for Cashis, his song “Family” has garnered over one million views on WorldStarHipHop. The track comes straight from the heart, driving home the message that it takes more than blood to form – and maintain -- kinship. “It’s based on loyalty, trust, friendship – the things we grew up with,” Cashis says. “It’s your friends who really are there for you sometimes.”
Cashis spent nearly eight years in prison. “You see people you grew up with in the neighborhood but no one really knows you, know you,” he says. “You feel alone.” During that time, a lot of people fell off but his mother and siblings were very supportive throughout his incarceration. “Friends? They faded to black on me,” he adds. “Music really helped me get through that a lot.”
To pass the time, Cashis would write poetry and raps, as well as R&B songs for other artists. Staying connected to music also kept the fight in him, and he refused a plea deal. “What I got was a blessing, because I was supposed to get 20 to 40 years,” he says. “I knew I did something wrong, but I knew what they were trying to give me was ridiculous. No one died. No one loss a life.” Cashis contends that no one sets out to sell drugs – he didn’t come from much and had to provide for him and his family. “I did some bad things with good intentions,” he adds.
After his release, Cashis was sent to immigration for deportation. Thankfully, he’s been allowed to remain stateside with his family. Only home for about a year now, Cashis has made some notable strides towards his goals. A mixtape, Foreign Exchange, will be released this fall on Dat Piff, Soundcloud, and whatever other platforms he can access. He says, “That all depends on my team and how good everybody is working for me.” His new single “Rollie,” is also on the way. “It’s gonna have that trap music feel,” he says.
“Right now, I’m really focused on building my fan base, and building my followers,” Cashis says. “I’m already working on Foreign Exchange II.” To remain relevant, he says you have to work hard on promoting current content and on creating new content simultaneously. “I’m hoping to get a distribution deal,” he adds. “I’m not really looking to sign to no label. I rather come out on my own label.” Cashis asserts that if someone pushes his music out to the world, he can handle the rest. “I can produce my music; write it. I do it all myself.”
“The music I make is just art, ya know? Sometimes people take it too seriously. Music is art and a way to express yourself. People rap how they were raised. I wasn’t raised with a silver spoon. It doesn’t mean that’s how I am now. My art reflects where I come from. You’re going to hear a lot of Liberia and Guinen in my music because I know where I come from. I respect where I come from.”
To connect with King Cashis, follow him on Instagram (@king_cashis), Twitter (@kingcashis2), Snapchat (king.cashis215), Facebook (Cashis Kaba), and his Facebook Fan page (King Cashis).