Ca$his has steadily released mixtapes and albums—building his Bogish Brand imprint—long after he left Shady Records in 2011. The Chicago emcee, who resides in Orange County, California, has developed his hard-edged sound over the years, blending West Coast gangsta rap with Chi-Town’s brutal realism. It’s seen predominantly in 2014’s Enthanasia, but diehard Ca$his fans know he’s all about consistency. On April 7, he’s releasing the third edition of The County Hound series, surrounded by singles “A-Rod” with New York staple Emilo Rojas, “Work” and “Kingpin”—two tracks featuring G-Unit’s Young Buck. “I think the fans are going to be surprised and appreciated,” he tells HipHopDX over the phone in LA. “I put effort into all my shit, but this is one of the ones that I can bump.”

Before Ca$his heads to the studio later that night, we talk about his goals for 2015, inspiration for The County Hound 3, how the Eminem-produced “Thug Boy” came together, and why he wasn’t included in Not Afraid: The Shady Records Story documentary.

Ca$his On County Hound 3¸ Young Buck & 2015 Goals

HipHopDX: We’re finally getting to hear some new music from you. What are you trying to accomplish this year?

Ca$his: I’m trying to accomplish a lot this year. I want to drop CH3. That’s just the start of something. That’s the beginning. I’m dropping that, and then I’m going in with a couple different projects. I’m gonna drop a 079 project, a project where it is going to be about 79th Street in Chicago. That’s where I’m from. Its just gonna be a whole project that’s geared towards that.

I feel like I’m from two different places. I’m from Chicago, but I’m from California also. I rep out here. My time is pretty much split evenly. Being that it’s one of the spots I rap for, I want to do a project geared towards the areas that I know. I want to do a whole project about the West. But when I first came out here with it, it was like light with the feeling. Just bring that energy back, just for a project. I just want to drop a whole line of shit. I got an open lane right now.

DX: What are your goals on an indie level?

Ca$his: Just stay afloat. I mean, it is about the bread and I do well. If I do something with the right connections and all that, you know what I mean? I knock something that’s out of the park, it’s cool. As long as the music is there and the music is consistently as dope as I can bring it. People can listen to each project and see that it’s better and they can respect each project. That’s all that I’m really into because that’s gonna get me my shows. That’s gonna get my features. That’s gonna get me all my sales and my Spotify [streams]—all them shits. I be doing cool. I’m definitely not hurting or in a bad situation if I can just stay afloat.

And then from there, just doing other businesses and shit. [I’m] opening up a barbershop and the chicken spot. I wanted to do something like a Harold’s Chicken from Chicago out here. That was too much. I’ma do my own version of it and put it out here. My own style of it and get it popping like that. So those are ways to subsidize the income and keep shit going, but musically as long as I keep dropping a flood of shit and I ain’t tryna break people when the pressure is on, people show me love. And I got a loyal fan base. I appreciate them and they appreciate me. I rock with them and I see them. I’m not a bougie dude. People see me anywhere and I’m cool. People holler at me online: “What’s up?” I show love back because I appreciate them. From an independent level, I would love to push some crazy obscene amount of numbers and cake out and make a mil on it. If I gotta do this shit dropping two, three projects a year for a couple years to get mine I’m with that too because it’s consistent.

DX: The County Hound EP dropped in 2007. The County Hound 2 dropped in 2013. And now we got this third one coming this year. So how do you feel about this one?

Ca$his: I love this shit, man. This shit is ice cold, dog. I’m telling you—this shit is ice cold. [Laughs] I’m excited as a motherfucker. This is the right way to kick off this shit. I’m excited about this one like I was excited about County Hound. I enjoyed County Hound 2. Making County Hound 2 was through a lot of pressure. I was going through a whole lot of personal shit. Like, I moved away to Texas and was coming back to California. And then I was going back to the city, to the Chi. It was just like all over the place. It was dope. It was a dope collection of music.

This shit—County Hound 3—this is what I’m talking about, man. This is a perfect way to start off. I think the fans are going to be surprised and appreciate it. They gonna see that I put effort into this. I put real effort into all my shit. I put effort into all my shit, but this is one of the ones that I can bump. Like, the beat selection. I like the feel of it. The whole feel of it is cool. It fit my tempo and my lane. It ain’t trying to fit in with nobody. It’s dope. It’s the shit I like. I can ride to it and knock it. If I can ride and knock to it consistently, or I can go play ball to it, or go jogging or some shit, walk into it and I can just vibe out to it. That’s what I want and we got the consistency in lyrics, consistency in concepts and the beats is dope and fluid enough and they go together. The mixing is all well. It’s a progression.

DX: What did you listen to for inspiration?

Ca$his: When I wasn’t writing, I was listening to everybody. Keep it 100, I was going back to the old school. Listening to ‘Pac. I was listening to a lot of Kurupt. I was listening to a lot of Jay Z. Nas. I was listening to Westside Connection heavy. I was listening to a whole bunch of shit that was classic cause I didn’t understand what niggas is doing. And then, I listened to Future’s mixtape [56 Nights]. I listened to Kendrick [Lamar’s] Section.80. I was just trying to soak up music, going all the way back. I went and listened to “Shadowboxin’” from [GZA and Method Man.] I was listening to that and all kind of shit like that. Just soaking up and getting back up to the point of today’s music. And then my shorty started to put me up on the Bobby Shmurdas and all these people—the new dudes. And I just started listening and I just started getting the feel for what I like from today’s music. Once I heard a few Luda’s freestyles and then once I heard Wayne’s [Sorry 4 The Wait 2] tape. Once I heard Wayne’s tape and then I was like, “Alright, cool.” That’s when I was getting in gear again.

DX: Young Buck is on two songs—“Kingpin” and “Work.” Are you a fan of him?

Ca$his: I’ve always been a fan of Buck. Me and Buck, we go back. That’s my guy. Me and Buck smoked big blunts together. That’s my dog. We are kind of similar-minded individuals. We’re both like ‘Pac babies. We both represent that same struggle inside and go through that thing. We go through the real thing in the streets and represent it. I always wanted to do more work with Buck than what people have heard or released. Now that I had this opportunity, it worked out and it was cool.

Eminem Produced Ca$his’ “Thug Boy”

DX: Eminem produced on the first two County Hound projects. He’s on here producing on a track called “Thug Boy.” When did you two work on it?

Ca$his: This is previous work that was gonna be on my last project that I was trying to come up with right before I went indie. It was just revamped. It was one of the ones where the bars and everything where cool and dope and it was a classic. It was well worth it. What I really want to focus on is just the progression of the artist and what I’ve become ever since then. I just want to show people the consistency. It’s not like I just started doing this. I’ve been doing this for a while. I’ve literally been dropping crazy records, or records that can be considered hit records. A record that’s timeless for a while. Like for real, for real. For whatever reason, the people haven’t heard it. When something sounds current and it fits in, I’ma go ahead and rock with it if it fits with my current lifestyle and the mood. It was cool. It’s not like it is hella old, but its dope. Its a couple years old, but it’s cool. I like it. I like that record.

DX: Originally, when did you work on it?

Ca$his: I freestyled it while I was in Detroit. I forgot when I went. It was gonna be on my last album. The double CD I was talking about when I was signed to Shady. It was gonna be that over there. That was one of the last records that was gonna be on that one.

DX: For this project, did you revisit it and added some things?

Ca$his: Nah, it was dope. I didn’t do anything to it. It already had the mix to it and all that. So I just let it go. It was dope to fit in. Just listened to it, I was like “Man.” I like to go back and listen to older stuff. So I went back to my old music, music that I thought was dope that could of came out. I was like, “Oh man, this song is hard.” I just had it shuffled in the iPod in the mix of one of my new records. That sound good coming off the shit, we should probably use that.

Eminem, Shady Records & “You Don’t Know” Verse

DX: Fans know you got your big break from your verse on “You Don’t Know.” What do you think of that opportunity looking back?

Ca$his: That shit is dope. I’m super fuckin’ happy that I had that opportunity now when I look back at it ‘cause that could have been anybody. That could have been Stat Quo. That could have been Bobby Creekwater. That could have been whoever, but niggas chose me. I didn’t understand the magnitude of it because it was boom, boom, boom. Everything happened so quickly. And I didn’t understand until now. I still go and perform it and do that record. People want that. For that record to have legs and to keep running and keep running, that forever cemented me in Shady history and legacy. You see on their website, they included my whole County Hound project in there. I’m always gonna look at that as respect, and I’ma always have loyalty and be that and do whatever I can and try not to make a mockery of their situation. I’m affiliated with that establishment. I think its dope.

That was hell of an opportunity. That was the only reason people still know me. They know me for other songs now, but that’s what opened the door. [50 Cent] had his “In Da Club” or “Wanksta.” That’s when they only knew him for “In Da Club.” For me, that’s what it was. That’s the reason why I’m still able to do what I do today. People give me the attention that I get.

DX: So being on Shady was a good step for your career?

Ca$his: Hell yeah, it was a good step. I had a couple of different offers on the table. Especially, more lucrative offers that a couple of homies wanted me to take. I know those would have worked out very well financially. But who I was and the person I was at that time, it probably wouldn’t have been conducive to that much money. I probably wouldn’t exist, you know what I mean, because I had a really serious, serious pill addiction problem. Like, extreme. And I was a super alcoholic. It was like an extreme gun fetish. It was just crazy man. I had enough problems with the money that I had, which was a whole lot. If I probably didn’t get those, I’d probably go crazy.

Going to Shady, it was cool because I had to hustle my way up. When I came in, I was at the bottom. Niggas laughed. People thought I was a joke, thought I was a pussy or something. Then I started showing niggas. I ain’t no hoe. I don’t know what you think about everybody else. I know I’m out here, it ain’t no sucker shit. I went against the grain and I was at the bottom and I went all the way up and made it up to the top. It was like Em, Fif, Obie Trice and then me. Obie pushed units. I’m not talking about talent or nothing. I’m just talking about all these units sold and pushed and tenor. As far as solo artists on there, I was happy to be the young dude wilding and putting my life on the line for them.

DX: You’ve said before that you’ve inspired Em just as much as he inspired you. What did you guys learn from each other?

Ca$his: I think he learned from me not to give a fuck. And that sounds crazy ‘cause you think Em don’t give a fuck. But Em, he gives a fuck. You would think that people would encourage someone to just be free to do his thing. That’s all I did. I think it was a time when he lost Proof. And you know, my spirit and Proof’s spirit is kind of similar. I don’t give a fuck. I do whatever. I ain’t got no fear. And I’m cool and I’m a goofball. I’m silly as shit. People don’t know that I crack jokes all day. Em likes to crack jokes all day. I’m like cocky; you know what I’m saying? It’s cool as far as that. I feel like if you had a bad day, it doesn’t matter. If you wanted to do whatever, I don’t give a fuck what you say. I got your back, and that freedom is good. He needed that during that time and to just like have a pal. A real buddy that wouldn’t tell no secrets or spill the beans and was just gonna ride for him.

And that’s the same thing I had during that time. You had to think, I went from hustling to getting a whole bunch of money. I didn’t know who the fuck to trust at that time. It was good for me to speak to someone that had a whole bunch more money than me. And he can put me on the shit that I was gonna go through— a lot that I didn’t understand or interpret. I was in a stall with just drugs and just the high of the life. Just being on. He taught me to not just give a fuck and just trust my instincts and by myself. I just brought him that security blanket.

DX: What’s your relationship with Eminem and Paul Rosenberg now?

Ca$his: We all good. It’s still forever. We gonna be lifelong buddies. I can call them whenever I want to. I can call that guy whenever I want, but I don’t be blowing niggas up. ‘Cause for what? When I go to New York or I go to Detroit, then that’s cool. That’s different. I’m not gonna abuse the privilege that I have. If I ain’t have shit going, I’m still building up my brand. I know for the fact that they are seeing my progression and seeing what’s going on. That’s all that I want. I’m a man; I want the opportunity to do my own and be my own business and not depend on anyone else. This is what I’m doing and it’s working. I don’t want to bother them. You never know. Crazy things end up happening. Them my people always.

Absence From Not Afraid: The Shady Records Story

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DX: Last year, Shady Records celebrated the 15 years of the label with Shady XV. They produced a documentary with Complex. You, Stat Quo and Bobby Creekwater weren’t really mentioned, even though you guys were signed to the label. Why do you think they chose to not include your side of the story?

Ca$his: I don’t know. You have to ask them. On the real. I don’t know. You probably have to ask them. Ask them, say what’s up. I didn’t hear about it. Even if there was any kind of sideways hate, no one could take away what I did. It doesn’t really matter. I didn’t even hear about the documentary, to keep it real with you. None of that really matters. I’m about peace and positivity and good vibes. In the documentary of the people, I’m all the way in there. That’s all that matters. It could just be that they couldn’t get a hold of somebody. I don’t even know.

I’m gonna focus on this CH3 though and pushing Bogish Boy. What we doing over here and pushing this album and just keep getting ready to drop more dope shit. A whole bunch of dope shit. I got an onslaught, a grip of people that I’ma start working with and all this shit. I have the freedom now. I don’t have those restraints of industry beefs or we don’t like these people. I’m free to work with any and everybody. At first, I didn’t like that idea. I felt that was being disloyal, but now it’s not. I gotta do what’s best to further my career.

I ain’t done with my legacy. I’m still creating my legacy. It’s still in the making. Musically, you gotta do what you gotta do and stay true to yourself and go for it. My true legacy is by the time I’m done, I want to have something built up that’s dope, have a label that’s super strong and cake up so I can leave that for my kids. Before, I wanted to be an artist and get money and get signed and sell records and do that. I did that and that was kind of where I limited my dreams. I had to dream bigger. It took me a while to dream bigger. I felt like I already reached where I wanted to be. I did what nobody else could be done. Like I said, it all starts from that opportunity. From Tracy [McNew, General Manager of Shady Records] playing that record “Talkin’ All That”. That’s the record that Em heard that started everything. Without that, it wouldn’t happen. I’m always respectful and appreciative of everything.