Cashus C.R.E.A.M. :: GameTime :: Campaign
as reviewed by Alex Sheremet

ART: If you can't, or simply won't bother... just be someone else. Or, "I is another," to quote a boyish writer who's been yanked by lesser 'poets' to give themselves some weight. Sure, you see it, too: how many rappers distastefully claim themselves the heirs, pupils, or shoe-spitters to someone in the already flawed Canon? Ah, it's a bit much - 'influence' is obvious, and real talent doesn't always need to be explained, at least not with such transparency.

So, if you hear the name Cashus C.R.E.A.M., you will think of the Wu-Tang Clan. If not, DJ Green Lantern will make sure you do, as he samples them (guess which song?) in the intro, and then brings out Cashus for the title track. Should you worry? No, since the mixtape is occasionally solid. But, why not leave it at that... why must the packing slip insist Cashus is influenced by Nas, Run DMC, and (early! - note the stipulation) LL Cool J? It's always done - everyone from 50 Cent to a less wealthy bargain-basement 'talent' seems to be a reincarnation of someone else, at least in the press release. But, 2Pac only has so many souls to distribute.

As the mixtape unfolds, you realize Cashus really does need that crutch. Sure, he can pull of a good all-around performance, but there's little quality control. The three or four good tracks are thrown against a lot of filler, and - what's worse - a string of clichés. There's not one original idea here. For example, the title track offers a monotonous siren, a little drama, and, a bit unimaginatively, military drums to a military theme - Cashus is a soldier (on a football field, I think). Is it familiar? Cashus does not violate this formula:

"That boy Cashus came to play
hope you brought your Red Bulls and your Gatorade
I'm in the field going hard on the day to day
my name speak for itself - check the resumé"

As noted, it's solid - not memorable, but that's not what 'solid' does. Cashus has an excellent voice, as it's smooth, and has some variety. After a pointless skit, "See Me" is a great improvement, as Cashus plays with the rhythm, adopting nice start-stop bragging alternating with sing-song threats. I doubt the substance, but at least it's fun, often impressive vocally, and and has lots of humor. A trumpet thumps against his voice - pretty complementary, and 'pleasant,' if that means anything.

It all goes downhill from there. Cashus no longer exploits his voice, nor whatever else he's good at. "So Sexy" is a banal little track, with a girl elaborating on the titular cliché against some lush electronica. Cashus won't save it. "The Paper" is about a gold-digger, and all the recycled social 'observations' it implies, but I can't sense the (artistic) propriety of sampling some dramatic violins for what's so inastute: the typical bad-grades-in-school, never-worked-a-job, and so on, whom Cashus laments, is lamented by the obvious. To be fair, some lines - at first - hint at an extended metaphor, of the gold-digger being some producer, or a producer-biter, or producer-sampler, or whatever, but there's really not enough consistency to say so. Alas - another lost opportunity...

Speaking of banal, "Bedroom," featuring a few vocal platitudes by Erika Deluna, is another lament, this time by Deluna - that Cashus (or, the character Cashus plays) only wants sex. It's not witty, nor fun, nor deep. Musically, it's practically naked, minus an unimaginative little drum - 'sparse'? No, just bad. "So Tired" is mellow, good rap-wise - introspection, but not drowning in technical platitudes - and a good closing, as the tiny guitar that's been driving the song all along gets a few chords.

An above average effort, marred by lots of filler and pointless subject matter.

Music Vibes: 5 of 10 Lyric Vibes: 6 of 10 TOTAL Vibes: 5.5 of 10

Originally posted: December 30, 2008