The music scene in Los Angeles has been ever-evolving, but its imprint in Hip Hop is cemented. We have long...
The music scene in Los Angeles has been ever-evolving, but its imprint in Hip Hop is cemented. We have long celebrated voices that emerged from the City of Angels only to become leaders in the culture, and Jayson Cash is ready for his close up. You may be familiar with his impressive label debut Read the Room, his fire Friday freestyles, or more recently, his blazing performance in the BET Hip Hop Awards cypher.
The Carson, California stand out has been grinding since before he solidified a deal with Atlantic Records. His mother attended school while working at a local park and during his youth, like many other aspiring artists out of Carson hoping to command attention, he looked at local label Top Dawg Entertainment as the collective to join. Cash told us about seeing Jay Rock, Ab-Soul, and Kendrick Lamar in the neighborhood or at in-stores, revealing that there was a time when he was squarely focused on adding his name to the TDE roster.
“Seeing them, man, it just kind of really showed me it was possible. Like, if you would have asked me years ago, I would have thought I would have been signed to TDE. That was the goal. And then it went from just, I want to be from TDE to I just want to leave my mark. Yeah, I wanted to be with Kendrick, and then, I want to be Kendrick. Then, I went from I want to be Kendrick to, I want to be Jayson Cash.”
Just ahead of his stellar look at the BET Hip Hop cypher, Cash caught up with us to discuss his maturation as an artist, being open about his modest beginning before entering the Rap game, and bringing an authentic personality in an industry plagued with illusions. In meeting Cash, he comes across as a humble emcee who wants to be seen as a talent, more than a gimmick. His already-established relationships in the industry helped usher in Read the Room features, including those lyrically-driven looks from Dom Kennedy and Symba.
We’re excited for the opportunity to chop it up with Jayson Cash as he breaks through the glass ceiling of Hip Hop. Read through our expansive interview with the rising star as he talks about his motivation, elevation, being seen as Jason Jackson, and locking in those dream collaborations with Kendrick Lamar and Bow Wow.
This interview has been edited for clarity.
HNHH: Speaking of TDE and just the history of Los Angeles—we’re talking about a place that breeds legends: Cube, Dre, Snoop. What makes Jayson Cash, in this space, stand out?
Jayson Cash: I will say, and it’s not a slide to anybody when I say this, but I’m really a one-of-one. I’m very comfortable in my skin and who I am. So, I speak and rap from my perspective. I don’t come off like, I’m trying to sound like I’m too cool. I’ll talk about the jobs I worked at, the jobs I got fired from, I’ll talk about not having a car when I was riding a bike, you know what I mean? Everybody tells like, the hero story, but I haven’t always been that, you know. And not to say that nobody else does that, I just have a different story from a different lens.
Like, Kendrick was the “good kid” in the “m.a.a.d city”. My city is not considered the “m.a.a.d. city”, but sh*t happens there, you know? So, it’s like, even just by default, we from two different places and it’s two different perspectives. For me, I just try my best to just give me. I always wanted, if somebody heard a song, to see me in person and be like, ‘Yo, that’s the same guy that’s on the song,’ you know?
I’m not telling anybody else’s like—I’m not a character. My homies, they grandmas call me Cash. That’s my nickname. I feel like the reason why I occupy different spaces is because I’m really just coming in here as myself. So, sometimes it take a little longer when you come in that way, and you’re not so much of a character, per se. But I felt like even being a slow burn, I’m glad that as I progress, I’m gonna progress as me. And it’s not hard to be me, you know?
Speaking of telling a story, your album definitely has a quintessential California vibe. Each song is different, but it was locked into the same groove. Tell me more about Read the Room, the production, and how you came up with choosing your collaborators because there’s Symba, there’s a couple of looks from Dom Kennedy…just that whole process.
Well, so for the sound, my project is produced top to bottom by the Eastie Boyz, which are my in-house producers. They’ve done “Chosen” for Blxst, “About You” for Blxst, a bunch of other different things that I like, but that’s who I’ve been working with for years. So, sonically, we definitely want to be true to where we from, you know. A lot of people say that music from L.A. doesn’t sound like L.A. anymore, and we’re not trying to sound like 1999 or 2006. But, you know, that’s what I grew up on. I grew up on Quik, my favorite rapper is Sugar Free, you know what I’m saying? Terrace Martin, all those different things. So, you’re gonna hear those elements in it, just from the sonics.
As far as like, the music, most of the features, well, pretty much every feature on there is somebody that I could pick up my phone and call. It was nobody that—like, me and Dom have made a better relationship since after doing the music. When we did the first song like, you know, that was my first time being in the studio with him. DJ Hed actually had introduced me to him a couple years back, and I just seen him just moving around L.A. But, you know, that’s somebody that text me or I’ll text him. And Symba, me and Symba, like, we was grinding together, you know, we got signed. I got signed off a song that I did with Symba, like years prior that hasn’t came out. Blxst being on there, we go back 10-plus years. KalanFr.Fr, Kalan, I’m from Carson, me and Kalan been back and forth, Carson to Compton, like, that’s somebody I knew before he was Kalan.FrFr and his name was Young K.
So, it’s real family sh*t as far as how that went because it was just natural. I wasn’t trying to just reach outside of my reach, because I’m sure that won’t make sense. I mean, do you drop a bag on somebody just to say you got that feature? But it’s not really authentic. So, I really liked that. If you listen to the project, the people that are on the songs, they fit the record.
It’s good when you can just say that your collaborators are just a call away. And on the back off of that, we always talk about the division in Hip Hop. I want to know who are some people that have just shown you love, that maybe you didn’t know per se, but carried that supportive element of Hip Hop.
Man. It’s crazy. Like, just recently, I met Larry June. And he walked up to me, I was like, ‘Yo, man, I’ve been seeing you, man, going crazy. Like, keep doing what you’re doing,’ gave me his number and sh*t. And I was like, damn, I didn’t even think he knew who I was. But that was definitely dope. And again, Dom, like, that’s somebody that I’m able to—I text Dom on his birthday, not knowing it was his birthday. Like, ‘Yo, bro, have you got some time for a second, can I pick your brain I want to run something by you.’ And then I went on Instagram was seeing his birthday. I said, ‘Aw, f*ck.’ I’m like my, bad bro, and happy birthday. And he literally called me. I had a phone call with Dom, I sat on the phone, like, on his birthday. You know? G Perico is somebody that I could pick up the phone and call and just chop it up. Glasses Malone. OG from out here, you know what I mean? Like, that’s somebody I can pick up the phone and call. So, I’ve got a lot of love from a lot of different people. It be crazy sometimes when you step outside and don’t know that people know you.
I was at this sh*t and I seen Ty Dolla Sign and he was like, ‘Yo, man, you goin’ crazy, bro, keep doing what you’re doing.’ I’m like, damn, I didn’t even know you knew what was up with me. So, it’s a trip.
And how are you evolving? What is your next step as we close out this year, and enter into 2023? What’s on the horizon for you?
More music. More collaborations, like even past just Los Angeles. I did Read the Room, like, I really want to super-serve my market. Because when I step outside, I’m in L.A. County. So, I knew what was going on and what was playing here. But it don’t just stop there. So, it’s elevating the sound. I can’t just drop the same project again. You do that one, that move that first time is like, ‘Oh, dope,’ but then you do the same sh*t again, it’s like, ‘Okay, well.’ So, the plan is really just to keep leveling up and doing what I’m doing on a higher level, on a higher level, and on a higher level. As soon as I feel like that level was high, I gotta go a little higher than that. Like, it’s always gotta be some more of it.
Closing out the year, like, I want to set up my next year. I feel like the moves that I’m making for the rest of this year is…for example, like, I’m in the BET cypher, you know what I’m saying? RJ, I’m gonna be his project that’s coming out, I’ve done a few different things. So, just really just moving around and just setting myself up next year to really have a good run. I felt like Read the Room and everything I’ve been doing, I’ve been dropping freestyles every Friday for the last 14 weeks. Just doing all those things, just laying bricks to support what I’m really trying to do.
The BET cypher, that’s a huge look at the Hip Hop Awards. What are you looking forward to at the award ceremony in general? What does it feel like to be on this side of the game?
Man, just transitioning, you know, because you’ve been doing this sh*t for so long, but not professionally. So, you keep doing more and more things that just remind you that okay, you’re arriving, these are things that you aspire to do. So, to take it all in and be present. Like, that’s like my main thing. To enjoy it because we worked. We worked hella hard to do this. I mean, I’ve been wanting to be in the BET cypher since I was in school. I’ve never been to the award ceremony, let alone going into the award ceremony where I had something involved in it as well. It’s a crazy feeling. And man, just really, really just being present and enjoying those moments and remembering these days and using these as fuel, as I move forward to like, never take these moments lightly. I don’t ever want to get too big in my career that the things that were too big for me before, that become small later, that I disregard the value of them because I know that it’s going to take all of these things. It’s hands that I gotta shake, the pictures, I gotta smile, and the people that I gotta talk to like, all of that is a part of the story. It’s all a part about scaling what I’m doing.
Yeah, when it comes to moving forward, especially those handshaking and smiling and forging those relationships…that never ends, no matter how big the room.
This sh*t is political!
Right, exactly! So, who are your dream collaborators, think joint project, perfect song…who is on that record?
So, dream collabs is definitely Kendrick Lamar, which is my GOAT. I want to work with Kendrick. I really want to work with Anderson. I’m a big fan. I want to work with Lucky Daye. Man, if I could do like, a joint project with anybody, I would do it with Dom Kennedy, for sure. Man, there’s so many people, like I want to do a song with Bow Wow like, you know? If I could do a song with Bow Wow…because I started rapping because of Bow Wow. That would be like, man. So, I definitely have a few different dream collabs. I want to do a song with Ray J with us being Carson. There’s a lot of people that I want to work with. But definitely like the main thing on my list is Kendrick like, man.
Yeah, I can definitely see that.
Schoolboy Q, too! Schoolboy Q…my first time ever being on stage. I was front row as a fan at a Schoolboy Q concert. He put me on stage and let me perform a song with him. So, like I would definitely like to work with him on this side of the game, you know?
Full circle moment has to happen now. It’s out there in the universe.
Oh, yeah, I’m trippin’! Snoop! For sure. Damn.
I grew up in Long Beach, so, Snoop was God when I was a kid. And I grew up in the 90s.
My goals, it was like, I just wanted to take care of myself and my family. I want Sugar Free to know my name. There’s a guy in my neighborhood John. I was like, man, I want to get John clean and off drugs. I wanted to call Snoop ‘Uncle Snoop’ to his face. Calling Snoop ‘Uncle Snoop,’ talking to him was just like, damn. Gave me chills.
I love that he has one of the most consistent reputations in the industry. Those veterans that really handle newcomers like their uncles, aunts, parents, whatever, that reputation is something we should strive to have in Hip Hop. Now, this is my last question. I do ask it to everyone. We kind of talked about the illusion of the industry. But as Jayson Cash the rapper, people have these expectations of who you are, fans see you as one thing, you have your team who sees you as another. What is something about Jayson Cash the person that doesn’t always translate? As a human being or as an artist.
Just, how much I care. I feel like sometimes—Man, this is a great question. Like, a really good question. Because you get spread thin so much, and you get pulled in so many different directions. I feel like, I don’t think people know how much I try to be present and try to be three things at once. You know what I’m saying? Like, sometimes I stress myself out, sometimes I choose, you know, a conversation with somebody that I care about over rest or over time, to get my own mind right. But it’s like, I just be trying, especially because, you know, life is short. So, I definitely try. And I feel like sometimes people don’t know how hard I try just because me trying hard with all that’s on me, looks different than somebody else trying hard with more free time or more spare time.
‘Cause we don’t work a traditional job. We not—it’s our sh*t, 24/7. So, even if I’m sitting here, watching TV, with somebody, or out to eat or doing whatever, it’s like, my mind is still clocked in on something else. I be trying, and that’s why I say even with the awards and stuff like that, I’m on myself about being present, because Jayson Cash the artist is that. But Jason Jackson, he needs to really embrace this moment because this is what he dreamed about as a kid. Like, f*ck the rapper. I have to literally be able to take that moment just as a person, and that’s one thing I’m working on. My therapist, we talked about like, compartmentalizing, learning how to make time for everything and place certain things in certain places. But you know, I’m only human.
I completely appreciate that mention about therapy. For that to be seen by a generation, especially with young men that are admiring what you do. The skills that you have, the placement that you have, and the position that you’re in, to know like, yeah, he goes to therapy, too, when he’s working on things. So, that’s really appreciated. Thank you for taking the time today!
Yeah, appreciate you!
Watch Jayson Cash’s BET Hip Hop Awards cypher below.
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