It’s been over six years since Cassie released her self-titled debut. But the 26-year-old singer makes up for her extended absence with her free mixtape, RockaByeBaby, due April 11. The star-studded set serves as a thank you to her loyal supporters, boasting appearances from Wiz Khalifa, Meek Mill, Pusha T, French Montana, Fabolous, and Rick Ross, who appears in the video for “Numb.”
Her Bad Boy boss and boyfriend Diddy helped oversee the project and come up with the title, which was inspired by Mario Van Peebles’s 1991 crime thriller New Jack City.
“Ultimately I wanted to make something to give back to people who have been waiting for so long,” Cassie tells Rap-Up.com. “After this long, if I didn’t come hard with it and come with features and do all the things I needed to do, it would have meant nothing.”
She has simultaneously been working on her sophomore album with will.i.am, Da Internz, and Toby Gad, and hopes to put that out before the end of the year.
Find out all about Cassie’s new sound, friendship with Nicki Minaj and LoLa Monroe, and how Diddy helped her get in the zone in our exclusive interview.
Why did you title the mixtape RockaByeBaby?
At first when we came up with the concept of RockaByeBaby it was loosely based on New Jack City and Keisha in New Jack City, who was sent to do the dirty work for the guys in the film. RockaByeBaby is really based on Keisha and her just no-bullshit attitude and I wanted it to be a reflection of a different side of my personality that people haven’t really gotten to experience yet. It’s just a tougher side of my personality.
Why did you decide to do a mixtape before another album?
I had been working on a second album for years and went through different changes and released singles and then the project would change again. It was just a lot of peaks and valleys and I felt like I’ve had so many consistent supporters and people that really believe in what I do and they wanted to hear something new, and music was getting leaked like crazy. I felt like I could never catch up to things that were coming out and it was always something. I think that giving music as opposed to selling music is a really dope thing you can do if you have the opportunity to do it because you get to do it exactly the way you want.
I still am working on my album. I’ve been in with will.i.am and Toby Gad and Makeba Riddick and Da Internz. I did a record on the mixtape called “Paradise” with Wiz [Khalifa]. I did that record with Da Internz, but we have two for my album that we worked on together that are so dope. So I’ve been simultaneously working on it too, but the mixtape just felt right at this time and it came together so seamlessly.
Were any of the tracks on RockaByeBaby intended for the album?
One of them, a record that I did with Ester Dean called “Bad Bitches.” I was on the fence, not about putting it on the tape, but the record is just so left of what’s actually on the mixtape ’cause there are darker parts and it goes through a series of changes. When you press play I don’t want you to have to feel like you have to skip around and I don’t want you to have to listen to it and sit there and listen to the words and the music. You can turn it down, still talk to your friends, have drinks, smoke, do whatever, or you can turn up. You can literally turn it up and have a party. That’s how I want it to feel. Every song flows into each other. There’s transitions, interludes, and it’s really fluid.
You shot a video for “Paradise” with Wiz. How was it working with him?
Working with Wiz is so much fun every time. He’s always smiling. I wanna be on whatever he’s on. He and Amber just had a baby, he’s just so happy. I want to shoot a visual for the majority of the records and I think that’s what the best delivery is to give a visual and music together because then you get to conceptualize and people get to understand what you meant when you made the record. I just want it to feel like our age. I want it to feel like us and our generation and not be forced. There’s so much stuff that gets forced on our generation. Finding your place in the world and making sure whatever you’re doing, you’re stamping it. I think that that’s the vibe with the visuals and the concept of the visuals and the music being a complete package.
How did “All Gold, All Girls (Remix)” featuring LoLa Monroe and Trina come together?
I had been working Trinidad James lately and I told him that I was in love with the record as everybody else was and a bunch of people did remixes, and when I played him my version of it, it didn’t have LoLa or Trina on it. He said, “What if you made it ‘All Gold, All Girls (Remix)’ and just got two bad rappers and just kill it?” For me it was a teaser to the project. We just kinda shot it out and I don’t think anybody’s ever heard me like that, but that’s what I sound like on the mixtape, so it’s kinda different and vibey. I don’t think we ever had intentions of putting it on [RockaByeBaby]. I love Trina and LoLa to death, they’re like sisters to me and I really love that they did that with me.
You threw a baby shower for LoLa. How did you become friends?
We met through Los actually ’cause Los is at Bad Boy and I’ve known Los for years. I had never met her and they’ve been together for so long, but we instantly clicked. LoLa is one of the coolest—like I can’t even explain how cool she is. She’s the most laid-back girl ever, but just so dope. She doesn’t even try at all. She’s been pregnant most of the time we’ve been hanging out, so we end up just watching TV and eating. She just had the baby, who I need to go see. I’m so happy for them.
You mentioned Trinidad James. Have you been collaborating?
Yeah, we’ve been in and out of the studio to just pop off ideas. He’s in Atlanta most of the time. I see him when he’s out here in L.A. He’s a really cool dude. He’s smooth [laughs]. He’s a hard worker too.
How much of a hand did Diddy have in the mixtape?
Puff helped me come up with the concept of it being RockaByeBaby being based on New Jack City, like how do we want to make this an idea and a concept without forcing it on people and making it something cheesy. He’s definitely been super involved in the process. Helping me find my place in the music world, like where do I want to exist, like who do I want to make music with, like what kind of music do I want to make. I think I never really asked myself those questions and I was just making records for so long. He’s been super involved and so helpful with everything, from the videos to helping me edit. And this is for the first time that I can honestly say to you because you’ve known me for so long, that this is my project. Anything that is coming out has my hands on it and has my touch on it. That’s what makes it so much more personal and I love the fact that he really just let me do me, because not making any money off of music like that, how am I just gonna give away such a crazy body of work unless it means something to me. It means giving my supporters something that they deserve.
You collaborated with Nicki Minaj on her 2012 single “The Boys.” Do you guys get a chance to hang out?
Never really get the chance to hang out. She’s super busy. She’s doin’ her thing with “Idol” and moving around. I’m proud of her. She’s done so much and came so far. It’s nice to watch from afar too.
You both looked amazing in the video.
Thank you. It was really fun to make and just be creative and change looks and I liked having something with another female in the game. I feel like there’s a lack of female collabs. We need more.
How do you plan to promote RockaByeBaby?
I’m definitely gonna go out and perform it. I don’t think that there’s any other way of doing it. It has to be performed. I have to show people what it means to me. And that will probably be over the summer.
Do you have an idea of when you want to put out the second album?
Whenever it’s ready. I would love for it to come out this year. I think that this tape has a lot of content on it, so that’s gonna have to rock out for a while. I’m definitely gonna go and perform it and have a good time with it ’cause it’s been such a fun experience making it. I wanna live it all the way through.
What else can we expect from you this year?
I just shot a campaign for Forever 21 for their Forever L.A. campaign. Just doing my modeling and my music, and getting used to living in L.A. It’s so different, but I like it.