Cas Metah Interview!
This was supposed to be a New Year’s Day present, but I’ve been kinda busy so here it is. Cas Metah (of the Scribbling Idiots) took the time to stop by for an interview and he fills us in on many future projects along with his inspiration. ENJOY and once again Thank You Cas Metah for stopping by!
Big Sto: First of all Cas Metah, I gotta say it is truly an honor to be interviewing you and congratulations on all the albums you’ve released over this time period.
Cas Metah: Hey no problem, it’s an honor being your first online interview. Thanks bro, paying dues is part of the game, it’s been quite the ride thus far.
Big Sto: Now before we get into the nitty gritty of what you’ve been up to, introduce people to who Cas Metah is, give a little bit of your background.
Cas Metah: I’m going to pull a huge cop-out here and say check out my bio at http://www.myspace.com/casmetah for the full scoop! But basically I started writing rhymes in 1995 and never stopped. I’ve been blessed to accomplish many of my goals already. There is no limit to what can happen so I’m going to keep grinding.
For my personal backround, listen to the music. I wear my heart on my sleeve.
BigSto: What people have influenced you spiritually and what artists and producers have influenced you musically.
Cas Metah: I’ve had several spiritual influences, almost too many to count. To be brief, I’ve had a handful of youth leaders, pastors, mentors and friends that influenced me spiritually. As far as anyone “known” in the Hip-Hop community, JustMe & Fred Lynch are two people I’ve been blessed to have relationships with. I’ve learned a lot from both of them. Also pastors/authors Rick Warren, Max Lucado and Michael Yaconelli could be added to that list as well.
Musically, Dungeon Family (Goodie Mob, Outkast, etc.), Masta Ace, Nas, Wu-Tang, Heiroglyphics, Def Squad, Boot Camp Clik, and D.I.T.C. were big influences when I was a teenager. As I got older I could include others like Eminem, he took it to another level with his rhyme schemes. In more recent years CunninLynguists, as well as all my crew members constantly inspire me to make better and better music each go around.
Big Sto: The Scribbling Idiots actually started off as just being you and JustMe, correct? Exactly how did that happen?
Cas Metah: You are correct. I met JustMe at an annual hip-hop festival in Cincinnati called Scribble Jam. As I remember it, this guy named A-Typical (who is part of Sev Statik’s crew Pitch Control) introduced us. Mars ILL was there that year so we were all just standing around their merch table. I was already a fan JustMe from his days as Sage with SolSeekers, so I think he was kind of shocked and humbled by that. I spit him his verse from “Heart Burn”! I drilled him with questions all day and we just connected. He was still new to the area and looking to do some shows. I was doing a lot of shows, so we exchanged numbers so he could start rolling with me. He came up with the idea for us to do a song together called “Buy My CD” that we could perform live together. We did another song that same weekend called “Make Me Smile”. I think we both just recognized the chemistry because when I called him to suggest we collab for an EP, he said he was already thinking LP. He came up with the name Scribbling Idiots and it’s been on ever since. I credit JustMe for a major growth in my skills as an emcee. You have to step your game up working with that guy or you’re going to look stupid!
Big Sto: How did you meet the rest of the Scribbling Idiots crew?
Cas Metah: Well this is going to be a long answer because I acted as the “recruiter” when we started adding folks. First, Ruffian was on that song I mentioned “Make Me Smile”. He and I are from the same town. I was already working with MattmaN and Re:Flex (two of our producers) on some stuff. I met both of them during the MP3.com days. I heard their beats online and thought “Why is no one working with these cats?” They actually already knew each other. That’s basically how I first heard Elias too, MP3.com (courtesy Sphere Of Hip Hop). I was introduced to Kaboose’s music through Richy D. (from G-Force Alliance). Elias and Kaboose were already building with each other. MattmaN did some beats for Elias and Kaboose before we started the crew too. So it all just made sense to invite these cats with a common interest to be Scribbling Idiots. This gave us 5 emcees but something told me we needed 6. That way if we did a “group” song, everyone could simply get 8 bars, that was my logic. So I started looking around for another dope emcee, but everyone else was already in a crew! In hindsight I’m pretty positive God led me to Mouth Warren. I heard him on “The Way We Walk” with Sintax and hit up Sintax for Mouth’s number. I reached out and we started building. Probably two weeks went by before I invited him to join SI. So that was our first growth spurt. It was later on that we met Theory Hazit and Wonder Brown. We were rocking shows at the same venues and they were just hanging out with us. SI didn’t have a DJ, so we asked Theory to join so he could DJ for us. We weren’t really looking at him as an extra emcee yet. Wonder was Theory’s sidekick so he was just always there. He became extended fam first, then moved into the starting five when Ruffian decided to step down for a season. The starting five (or six counting Ruff) were those of us who lived close enough to rock shows together. So that’s how JustMe, Mouth, Theory, Wonder and myself became the core five. The other cats were still crew, we just called them the extended family. When it would appear we were complete, MotionPlus got added to our crew. He had reached out and bought a beat from me. We just clicked after building on the phone so much so I added him to SI. This brought our number to eleven members, which I just now thought is kind of cool, because there were eleven faithful disciples who followed Jesus. Griffin must be our Judas! LOL. Just kidding Griff, don’t diss me! Nah for real, Griffin is Mouth’s younger brother and although he’s not official SI, his relationship with Mouth makes him our family too. He’s a Tunnel Rat to the death, but he’s got mad love for SI and we show it right back by giving him some shine when we can. Whew, told you that was a long answer!
Big Sto: I read your Soundclick page before this interview and you’re in many different groups (Darke Brothers, Analog Amazon, SomeBuddies and many others). How did these groups come together, who’s in it and could we be seeing projects from these groups soon?
Cas Metah: Being solo is okay, but I’m a collaborator by nature. So I enjoy working on side projects with others when I can. SomeBuddies is myself and MotionPlus. We have an EP dropping on Illect Recordings really soon. Darke Bros. is myself and Wonder Brown. We have a full-length album done, it’s being mixed and mastered as I speak. It will drop in 2009 for sure. Analog Amazon is myself and Mouth Warren. We have enough songs right now we could say the project is done, but we’re going to refine it a little, so it’s hard to say when that will drop. I’m trying to do a duo project with all of my SI brothers as you can see. I doubt one ever happens with Elias or Kaboose, they both have too much going on elsewhere. I think I’ll do one with Theory Hazit eventually. We’ve talked about it, the timing just has to be right. I’m down to do something with Re:Flex too, if he’s up for it. I’ll also leak some info and let yall know I’m working on a solo project completely produced by MattmaN called sINNERPEACE. It’s coming together awesome and will easily be my best solo effort to date.
I’m also one-fourth of a group called Left Field Radio with Mr. SOS (formerly of CunninLynguists) and Chapter13 (Zero Basement and Kory Calico). That’s dropping in ’09 for sure. I joined G-Force Alliance way back before SI was formed. I’m not sure if there’s going to be another album with them or not. Richy D. (the leader of G-Force) was one of the first people to reach out and show me love so I won’t ever forget that, that’s my dude.
Big Sto: While I don’t have Dimension Tide, I do have Providence Road and it seems that you put your soul in the lyrics for this album. What was your idea and motivation behind this album?
Cas Metah: Thanks man, I did put my soul into it. It’s a deep album. Metaphorically speaking, the lyrics travel a path, often beginning in frustration and pain, but as I walk (grow) I begin understanding God’s providence along the way. That’s assuming it’s one of the many personal songs. There are a few concept songs that aren’t about me personally, but they still give you insight into God’s providence. For example, “Out Of This World” is a biblical paraphrase. Everything Jesus went through was because of God’s providence, it was his destiny.
Providence Road was written over the course of two years, basically on the side when I wasn’t working on Guest Room or something else. In many ways you could say it was my diary. It was my way of channeling spiritual growth from the inside out. I didn’t write those songs, I believe the Holy Spirit guided those songs to teach me and reassure me of where I’m headed and not to dwell on where I’ve been. Those were some challenging times in my personal life, but I’m a stronger man now because of it. I really hope that album is one people can listen to when they’re depressed and be comforted by.
Big Sto: When I first heard about Guest Room I thought it would be like Providence Road in terms of how guests were on the album and the people producing it. But you took it to another level by having guests on every single track of the album. How did this idea come about?
Cas Metah: Well it started in 2003. Listener was in the area touring. He stayed at the crib a night or two and laid down some raps while he was there. Some time later, Mars ILL and Pigeon John were touring together. They stayed at the crib for like 3 or 4 days, so they laid down some raps. More time passed and I asked Theory Hazit to make me a beat for an Ohio posse cut I had in mind. I think it was around this time I realized I had more collab tracks than solo tracks. So I just came up with the idea to do a compilation style project. A guest room is obviously where folks stay when they visit someone else’s home. So the title has a pretty literal meaning. Sometimes people didn’t stay with me, they may have just been in the area and had some time to kill. That’s how the Lightheaded collab happened. Or it could be the other way around, I was somewhere and stayed with someone else. Some of the songs were done long-distance as well. Regardless, I made room for guests to “stay” on the album. Thus the idea became reality!
Big Sto: What I love about the new Guest Room album is that from artists to producers, over 40 people put their hearts into this album. How is it working with all the different producers? How are you still able to get your voice out there with so many others on the album?
Cas Metah: Working with different producers is always dope because there are so many different styles you can tap into. I grew up listening to East Coast rap, West Coast Rap, Midwest Rap and Southern rap. Of course none of it is really the same now as it was then, but by being influenced by so many styles I enjoy making different styles. Boom-bap is my favorite, but I enjoy some double-time hi-hats every once in a while. Not to knock people who stick to the same style consistently, that’s fine. They’re being who they are. But I wouldn’t be who I am if I didn’t stretch myself and try different styles. So I’m always down to work with some beat makers who can help me accomplish that.
As far as getting my voice out there on Guest Room, I rap on every song. The length varies but it wasn’t about me getting “mic-shine” this time around. It was about doing whatever I thought it took to make a fresh, complete song from a producers mindset. When I say “producer”, I mean the overseer who calls the shots on an album basically. That’s the original origin of the word as I understand it. That’s what the rest of the music world calls a producer. Hip-Hop turned “producer” into the term for a beat maker. In some cases, the beat maker is also the producer, but not always. I didn’t make any beats on Guest Room, but I produced it from beginning to end. There are a lot of dope emcees that can spit a hot verse but can’t make a hot album to save their life. Hopefully Guest Room shows I know how to do both.
Big Sto: You also have a crew at home (I would’ve looked further into it, but due to a poor internet connection I couldn’t) who just released a mixtape. Could you give a bit of insight to this?
Cas Metah: Sure. You’re talking about Field Specialists. FS is made up of the local talent from my hometown, Greenfield, OH. Most of us have been working together for a decade now, but we recently added some fresh blood the past couple years. We released the Hustle Case mixtape in January 2008. It did really well locally. We got the chance to open some big shows for Twista, Cassidy and Bizzy Bone. I expect similar opportunities to come in ’09 when we release our next mixtape, Melody. I love Melody, it’s 180 degrees from Hustle Case. It’s way more cohesive and everyone just got their grown man on. We put it on hold until our dude 3rd Degree gets out of prison January 29th, so he could get some verses on it too. But it’ll drop spring/summer 2009.
Also, speaking of Field Specialists, I did a duo project with one of them cats. He goes by Deuce Complex. We’ve been friends since 2nd grade. The album is called METAH COMPLEX Pound The Pavement. It’s real, real grimy. People can buy the cd or download it for free at my MySpace page.
Big Sto: How would you explain your lyrics? When a listener puts down your album, how should they feel about you as an artist? When they hear the artist Cas Metah what do you want the listener to think?
Cas Metah: Well, I pride myself in writing quality lyrics. When I was first coming up I know my delivery wasn’t that great, but I think people were still impressed because I was a lyricist. I know this is going to sound braggy but it’s true. I think I’m pretty versatile when it comes to lyrics. I can write straight forward or metaphorical. I can tell stories, I can battle, or whatever. I’m a versatile lyricist.
I guess what I hope people walk away with after they listen to my music is an understanding of what they heard. If I say something so deep that only I know what it means, that’s not good. I used to write like that. I’ve been focusing on the balance lately though on my new solo stuff. I hope I can relate to people and make clear my beliefs, my struggles, and my passions whether they share them or not. I don’t believe it’s my job to change anybody, only the Holy Spirit can do that. If my words are a stepping stone, well then great, but God gets the glory. I’m just a rapper.
Big Sto: What new projects could we be seeing from SI or any of the other members in the near future?
Cas Metah: Well aside from everything that has already been mentioned, Wonder Brown did a project with MC Till called Kings Of Tragedy and it’s dropping early ’09 for sure. The SI crew will release the mixtape Idiomatic Vol. 2 in ’09 for sure. It’s about 95% finished. Once I get these last couple verses turned in, we’ll get it mixed and mastered and put out ASAP. JustMe’s second solo album Beyond The Twilight is ready to drop soon. It’s produced by Commissioner Gordon and it’s really dope, I’ve been bumping it a lot. Re:Flex has a mixtape coming out. Theory Hazit is dropping Modern Marvels with Toni Shift. I know MotionPlus had some plans to release some new music, but had a computer crash, so I’m not sure how big of a delay that made. I’m pressuring Mouth Warren to finish a solo album but only time will tell on that one. Elias is releasing an EP sometime and Griffin is about 3 songs deep into his solo album. Kaboose just put out a record so I’m sure he’s touring hard to push that. Does that cover everything I’m allowed to say? I think so!
BigSto: Ok, thank you so much for the interview and before you leave is there anything else you want your fans to know?
Cas Metah: Oh yes, snap! I almost forgot the biggest news of all! LOL, Wow that was close. Cas Metah Monthly! It’s an online digital music subscription service I’m kicking off in January ’09. Check out my blog for full details please! http://www.casmetahmonthly.wordpress.com Also make sure you check out the Sphere Of Hip Hop Podcast on iTunes, it’s free. I host two per month, and I play a lot of good music, it’s not me talking the whole time. Peace and God Bless!
~ by Michael Stover on January 5, 2009.