Almost exactly eight years ago (April 25), Cassie Ventura broke into the scene with Me & U, a world-wide smash from the hands of the then up-and-coming producer and songwriter Ryan Leslie. Backed by Diddy’s Bad Boy, Cassie seemed on the fast-track to success, but numerous attempts to repeat the success of Me & U, failed.1 Cassie, who still has some sort of relationship with Puff Daddy P. Diddy Diddy Puff Daddy, only made headlines when she premiered a new haircut. Eight years without a hit is like a striker being scoreless for four consecutive seasons, but unlike Lilian Laslandes, Cassie miraculously maintained a big following. One fan even made this amazing three-cd mixtape, very similar to The Weeknd’s trilogy. And then, seemingly out of nowhere, RockaByeBaby dropped and it was way better than even her biggest fans would dare to expect.
When the first track of your mixtape is written by James Fauntleroy, produced by Da Internz and features Wiz Khalifa, you know you have something special going on. RockaByeBaby isn’t just a mixtape, it’s one of the better R&B studio albums of last year.
Cassie immediately sets the mood on Paradise: “I know what I want now, no shade, no hatin’ / But if that’s your date then you need a replacement”. She’s cocky in a playful manner, and her voice is somehow raw and perfectly smooth at the same time. Wiz Khalifa delivers one of his trademark verses2 about weed, cars, planes and girls. The track fades into Take Care Of Me Baby, with a show-stealing verse of Pusha T. To say the tape is influenced by hiphop would be an understatement; more rappers show up than on a Rick Ross-record and only three of the album’s twelve tracks (not counting the intro) are all Cassie’s. Those tracks also happen to be the shortest -none lasts longer than 2:30- and least strong. Don’t get me wrong: Cassie is the star of this mixtape, despite multiple good verses from average-to-great rappers.3
RockaByeBaby‘s highlight comes in the form of Sound Of Love, a steamy duet with Jeremih. It stands out against the tough and aggressive tone of most other tracks on the tape. The lyrics are so sweet, they make cotton candy jealous: “You make it hard for me to breathe / Whenever you’re around / My heart vibrates every time I sense you’re around / That’s the sound of love”. Cassie’s sometimes cold voice makes a great pair with Jeremih’s robotic style and their chemistry is tangible.
With RockaByeBaby, Cassie delivers an album perfect for a place where the lights are sparse and the drinks are plenty. It’s mood music with the perfect mix of sexy and gangster, something few other artists can pull off so easily. Cassie has found her niche, and now would be a perfect time to finally drop that sophomore album.
- Only Long Way 2 Go had some success in Europe. No other singles were released from her debut album, and singles from the never-released second album Official Girl, Let’s Get Crazy and Must Be Love (featuring Diddy himself) never managed to chart at all. ↩
- Where one of his lines (“Fucking with you every night”) is explained on Rapgenius as “Due to having affairs with her every night. Wiz Kalifa has a son now, named Sebastian Taylor Thomaz”. Rapgenius scholars are the best. ↩
- On the average side of the spectrum are Meek Mill and French Montana, on the other side Pusha T and Fabolous, with Too Short, Wiz Khalifa and Rick Ross somewhere in between. ↩