By: Charlie Rocafort/Special to TRT—
Cazwell became a YouTube sensation after a million people in a single week viewed his “Ice Cream Truck” music video. From there, the Massachusetts-born rapper began producing a steady flow of ridiculously popular videos like “Rice & Beans” and “I Seen Beyoncé At Burger King.” All captured his engaging charisma, self-effacing humor and adorable personality.
This month, Cazwell returns with a new batch of hip hop comedy gems that impressively showcase the artist’s hypomanic yet insightful take on pop culture. “Hard 2 B Fresh,” his first album in four years, features seventeen tracks— including his latest tearing up dance floors, “Dance Like You Got Good Credit.”
We caught up with Cazwell at Logan airport as he prepared to board a plane for a performance in Houston.
Charlie Rocafort: It’s no wonder being fresh is so hard! Recording seventeen tracks had to be a lot of work.
Cazwell: There were tons more songs that didn’t make it on the album!
What was your mission with this, your second record?
A. I wanted to bring it back to a 90’s feel when every song would get kids to the dance floor.
What song are you most anxious for fans to hear?
A. “The Biscuit.” It has a fierce beat that was originally used in the South African song, “Ek Smaak Jou (I Dig You).” I’m pretty sure it’s going to be the next single.
Is there a track on the album that speaks to you personally?
A. Yes, “I Blocked Your Number.” It’s a break up song but it’s not a woe is me kind of track. It’s very detailed and true to what I was going through at the time. The lyrics are funny as all hell and Roxy slays it as the telephone operator in the opening. The beat assaults you. I made it with Fresh Direct and Richie Beretta.
When making music, do you pay attention to trends?
A. The worst thing I could do is to start doing a style of music just because it’s hot at the moment. The best tracks I make are the ones that I can’t wait to spin. If I’m feeling it, if I would party to it, if I would play it, I’m sure I can’t be the only one so I gotta trust my instincts. I’ve learned to be informed by the trends but not necessarily be guided by them.
Where did the idea for “Dance Like You Got Good Credit” come from?
A. I owe it all to Bianca (Del Rio). We used to work together at a bar in New York’s Chelsea. I’d be DJing and she’d be on the mic reading the crowd. At some point in the night, we would get people up on stage to dance and strip off their clothes for a $100 prize. I remember one time this guy was barely moving on stage and Bianca screamed at him, ‘Dance! Dance! Like you got good credit!’ I thought to myself ‘damn that’s a good title for a song!’ That’s why she’s in the video.
It’s a hot track!
A. It’s a combination of twerk, trap, pop and hip-hop. My favorite part of the song is when Cherie Lily sings the hook. I wanted her to bring out the attitude so in the studio, I made her chew gum and keep her hand on her hip the entire time she was recording.
Was Cherie Lily really pregnant in the video?
A. Yes! I was adamant about making the video before she went into labor. For one, I was under a time crunch, but I also thought it would add to the personality of the video and her comedic role in the song. We both agreed that her pregnant belly had to stick out so we made sure she was styled in a lot of spandex like Peg Bundy.
Many of the tracks on Hard 2 B Fresh tackle topics that speak to today’s youth culture. Is “Dance Like You Got Good Credit” referring to the economic state of young people today? Who’s to blame?
A. Great question! I mean really, who really knows who’s to blame? Ya gotta see the sense of humor in this country’s state of bad credit. I mean really. It’s kind of hilarious that broke people go into debt just to look rich for other broke people. Who are we trying to impress? It has a lot to do with our overwhelming fear of appearing poor I suppose. And I guess I understand it.
Q. Is Cazwell Black Card or FreeCreditReport.com?
A. (Laughing) I’m somewhere in the middle. But since I got my student loans finally paid off, I’m feeling almost Black Card.
Q. What are some things you did to get by as a struggling artist?
A. When I first moved from Worchester to New York, I massaged feet for a living. I really did! I catered to guys with foot fetishes. I suppose a lot of guys thought I had nice feet. I would let them play with them for a couple hundred dollars. I had to get over being ticklish real quick. I, myself, don’t have a foot fetish. I have a sneaker fetish, though.
Q. What are some of the good things about being broke?
A. Off the top of my head, I can’t think of any good thing that comes from being broke. But what’s worse is someone with a broke state of mind. You may have no money but you still gotta be resourceful and use your talent and charm to get what you want. If you’re low on funds, you shouldn’t call yourself broke because it lowers your self-image. To quote Oprah, “You’re just having a temporary out of money experience.”
Q. What’s next for you?
A. A lot of shows to support the album. It feels amazing to have finally given birth to this big baby. I feel like I had triplets! But I couldn’t be happier and I’m so grateful to my label, Peace Bisquit, for allowing me the time and experimentation it took to produce the specific vision I had in mind.
Hard 2 B Fresh is available on iTunes now. For more information, visit: www.CAZWELL.com.