Cassidy - Split Personality
In first looking at the back cover of this album, I was under the impression of this being a hip-hop trio but a closer look reveals Cassidy, Tha Problem and B.Reese to be three parts to the personality of Barry Reese, who usually just goes under the nom de rap of Cassidy. Whilst not living up to the title of the album - don't expect this to be a hip-hop take on Quadrophenia - this isn't a bad album and although far from the inventive beats of The RZA, less furious than Def Jam's early output and ill-prepared to pimp-roll through the streets in of Los Angeles in the manner of gangsta rap, is a strong set of songs with a unique mix of sounds.
The splitting of the fifteen tracks into three sets, with each being given four songs and, as is typical with hip-hop, an opening skit, allows Split Personality to cover light R&B (Cassidy), hip-hop (Tha Problem) and soulful pop (B.Reese) without one falling into another. The opening track on the album, following My Interpretation, is Split Personality's lead single, Hotel, which puts Cassidy's hip-hop vocal against Siete's jazz guitar and R Kelly's chorus. With traces of pop within the sound, Hotel leads Cassidy into sun-kissed, summer R&B that will soundtrack the heat wave within the cities in the coming months. The last track out of the four in Cassidy even adds the Southern sound of Snoopy Dogg to Cassidy's rhythms, offering a route back to the more laid-back sounds of East Coast rap that accompanied city parties.
Tha Problem is introduced by shots of Barry Reese searching desperately for a more moody look than those that accompany Cassidy and B.Reese but it's apparent that this means little more than his baseball cap being tipped to the right and the Full Surface medallions flipped to their reverse. Despite Reese throwing shapes as assuredly as middle-class, white kids wearing drainpipes and their school shirt, the sound is much more confident with the bass creeping up in the mix and a furious mash of samples that includes Public Enemy's Terminator X To The Edge Of Panic, featuring the wail of a trumpet that made sound of The Bomb Squad so immediate. With the sound systems of early hip-hop recalled on Pop That Cannon, the sparse beats of The RZA on Blood Pressure and sly funk on Can I Talk To You, Tha Problem is the best segment on the album, only lacking a classic track.
Such a problem doesn't pose an issue for the B.Reese section of the album, which closes with the pop/funk of Around Tha World that cops a classy sample from Michael Jackson's Motown soul of We've Got A Good Thing Going. Grabbing loops from Curtis Mayfield on Real Talk and a sly use of Public Enemy #1 on I'm Hungry, B.Reese ends the album in fine fashion and whilst a little more thought would have passed over the concept of the album in favour of a better mix of tracks, this is a solid debut from a the Full Surface label's first act.
Lyrically, Cassidy is as sharp as Prince Paul or Ice Cube and is backed by strong support from his one-time Larsiny colleagues and produce Swizz Beatz. Despite the lead single, Hotel, lacking power, the release of Around Tha World or Can I Talk To You should get Cassidy better support than would be his were he to depend on the pop charts alone.
Last updated: 24/06/2018 21:00:48