Co$$ (or Cashus King) is a rapper from South LA whose name first began to circulate last year alongside more well-known underground artists like Blu & Exile and Shawn Jackson. Since dropping his mixtape Tomorrow’s Yesterday in February, Co$$ has begun to step out of his crew’s shadow and carve out a niche for himself on the West Coast. His debut album Before I Awoke, coming this Winter, features production from Exile, but is based around and a host of exotic unknowns from as far as Rotterdam and Finland.
ML: How would you describe your sound?
Co$$: As far as my style, I haven’t taken much influence from many artists. It might be subconsciously, like I’m rapping like artists but I just consciously don’t recognize it. I’m really doing me. It’s 100% me. One of my favorite lyricists is Ras Kass and another one is 2Pac and another one is Black Thought, but I don’t think I rap like any of those MCs. A lot of people say I sound like Ras Kass as far as my cadence. I don’t think I rap like him schematically or flow-wise.
Co$$: I was blessed to link with a producer out of Finland named Fonetik Simbol. He’s kind of like the Premo to my Guru, but when you hear my solo project, the foundation of it is going to be this production team out of Rotterdam called Spaceship Status. They’re really on some spacey-meets-Dr. Dre-spacey type shit. I don’t think I put too much of the Spaceship out there, so you guys haven’t gotten a taste of that sound, but you guys got a nice taste of the Fonetik sound, which is similar to the Spaceship sound. It’s kinda like eclectic in a way, but it can gel in with the commercial sound. Like they bang hard but they’re also very soulful. I’m big on soulful. Anyone that knows me as an artist will tell you that. I love soul samples, I love live-instrumentation, but then I like that West Coast flavor too. So I would describe it as a mixture of soul, what I call outer-space, and the West Coast, the G-funk vibe. My goal is to do the next project with Flying Lotus. I think he has the sound that I’m looking for. Or Exile. I’m supposed to do my next album with Exile
ML: So after [Before I Awoke] you’re going to do a project with Exile?
Co$$: Either Exile or Lotus. One of the two. Most likely Exile, because we’ve already sat down and discussed it and I haven’t even personally met Lotus. But yeah, the next project will most likely be with Exile and it was funny because I was supposed to put out my Exile album right after Blu put out Below the Heavens, but life happened and I kind of developed new ideas and concepts of what I wanted to do and kind of strayed away from the Exile project, which is one of my biggest regrets. So yeah, next up is Ex.
ML: Out of all the music you’ve put out so far, what kind of response have you gotten?
Co$$: The mixtape got a good response, but I gotta say – because I had a hard time getting on these blogs and these HipHopDX’s and the sites that really post the stuff and I’m finally getting up there and I gotta say the people are a little harsh. They like, ‘ah that’s OK.’ They’re hurting my ego a little bit, but that’s dope. I like that, because it inspires me to step it up, it inspires me to give the people what they want instead of what I think they want. I thought I was giving them what they want, but obviously it’s not dope enough. Most of the songs I’ve put out, as far as just putting out random joints, haven’t gotten the kind of response I hoped they would get, but the mixtape got a real good response and of course the people that feel Co$$ feel Co$$ and they let me know it. But the masses don’t seem to be going crazy. It just inspires me to work harder.
ML: Have you gotten any industry response?
Co$$: Not major labels yet, because these days the major labels, as far as the artist, they want a complete product. That means they want to see that you have a fan base established, that you put the material out. So I feel like once I put this record out with Tres, make a couple more legitimate moves in the game, major label doors will start to open. Blu’s signed to a major and that’s like my right-hand man. Not saying I’m gonna get on via Blu, but it’s inevitable. I just think that I need to take a few more steps behind developing the grassroots movement behind Co$$, because I’ll even say that I don’t have enough of a movement in the streets. I’m not doing enough shows, I don’t have enough of a buzz built up, so I just need to put that work in.
ML: Blu’s major label deal – was that a big surprise?
Co$$: No, see, I’ve been friends with Blu since Blu was sleeping on floors. So Blu was bouncing from crib to crib and I’ve seen the work that this dude put in. I don’t know if people think he came out of nowhere, but I know for a fact that this dude worked his ass off. So, when he got the major label deal, it was no surprise. It was like, ‘no trust me, this is one of the most talented, most gifted, most hardworking dudes you’ll ever meet.’ So yeah, the labels are happy. They should be happy to have an artist like Blu. I wasn’t surprised to see him get that deal.
ML: I get the impression that the West Coast is very fractured and has a lot of different faces. There are a lot of different scenes, even among the underground. You’ve got you and Shawn Jackson and Blu & Exile; and then you’ve got Crooked I and Bishop Lamont; and then you’ve got Terrace Martin and Problem.
Co$$: You’re totally right. Then you’ve got Pac [Div] and U-N-I and you even got the cats that migrate from other states like Sene. That’s like my partner in rhyme. Sene is fresh out of Coney Island, but he stays in LA. He doesn’t rep Cali, but we consider him an honorary Cali person. I don’t think it’s fractured in like an envious kind of way. In the Bay you have more of the unity of the sound, you’ve the Bay scene and everybody vibes on that Bay vibe, but in LA everybody is kind of individual because that’s how the streets are out here. Every hood for themselves, they’ve got so many different gangs, so many different clubs and car clubs and cliques. People are very clique-ish in LA, so I think it bleeds into the music.
ML: Is there ever any crossover?
Co$$: I just did a song with Bad Lucc not too long ago. U-N-I is really cool with Damani and you know U-N-I is on some eclectic-different-type-of-eccentric-commercial shit and Damani’s on some traditional G-funk type shit and they’re tight on some homie shit, because they all come out of Inglewood. I think that a lot of people will be surprised that it’s just about bringing us together physically. I don’t think anybody’s opposed to it, but I think people just need to be brought together. That’s my goal, because I’ve got the street side of me but then I’ve got the conscious side of my shit, so my big objective is to merge it all. I can hear Pac [Div] do a joint with Nipsey easy, which will probably happen anyway. So, is there crossover now? Not as much as I would like to see, but I think the West Coast is about to go through the same phase the South went through the past few years.
ML: Is your album gonna sound like your mixtape?
Co$$: I think the album is gonna be more cohesive, because the mixtape was trying to show people how I’ve progressed through the years. It was all the way from when I was straight street-commercial to when I started to evolve, or what I consider evolving with my sound of more of a conscious mixed with street.
ML: I’m looking at the production credits on your mixtape and I’ve never heard of most of these guys. Is there an untapped well of West Coast production?
Co$$: Not just West Coast, a lot of that shit is coming out of Europe. Spaceship out of Europe, Fonetik is out of Europe. I fuck with this ill producer named Eric L out of Europe. So it’s all coming out of different sections of Europe. Fonetik Simbol is out of Iceland.
ML: What was the last thing you bought?
Co$$: Bought a white tee yesterday. That’s real talk, I bought two white tees, I needed some new white tees for the Summer. That’s kind of lame, but that’s what I bought.