FLINT, Michigan -- “I’m always ready,” says Flint native King Ca$hes in response to the rapid succession of events that lead to this interview. With a deep breath, he leans back in the chair—a gesture I envision is reminiscent of him getting ready to spark a blunt at home or in a studio—and relaxes a face that rarely if only because of his daughter, sees a smile. He sits across the table dressed in all black, with dreadlocks—a symbol to corporate America not to “judge a book by its cover”—underneath a cap. Inside downtown Flint’s The Ferris Wheel, Ca$hes checks his phone to answer text messages, peruse social media notifications, and ignore phone calls while enjoying a sip of his Fosters Coffee drink.
At the time of our conversation, it is the eve of his album’s release, Shipping & Handling, but there’s no pressure. Instead, it’s the opposite—a feeling of relief. Soon to be 31-years-old and a music veteran, he possesses a confident and dignified demeanor. When answering questions, Ca$hes carefully chooses his words and speaks in a respectful tone to “filter out and expose the people that’s not real and genuinely f*** with me.” Our discussion rarely hits his childhood. Instead, it brings attention to Flint music’s current generation, his incredible business acumen, and other prospects. In a final breath, at last, Ca$hes flips his phone over—he is indeed ready.
“In the last 12 months, everything is getting so Flintdustry. You [make music] for fun 10 or 15 years, and in the last 60 days, it’s all about this and that,” he says, reflecting on the globalization of Flint’s music scene. “I tell everybody if you ever [was to] stop rapping in Flint, right now is the worst time.”
Shipping & Handling is a celebration of how far he’s come and extra gasoline to the rising popularity of a distinct style of rapping native only to Flint.Wise words from a veteran who spent time in the studio before he was 13-years-old, Ca$hes is the city’s big brother, cousin, and OG. The last month has seen the artist drop several singles—Cottonmouth, Limp Bizkit, and Camera—and receive an overwhelming amount of city-wide support. For the past several weeks across Facebook, Instagram, and beyond, many have changed their profile pictures to support Shipping & Handling. For a city that’s “kind of weird as far as the way we show love,” he’s humbled by the fact. It is a testimony to his musical journey and is the highest seal of his supporters and the community’s approval. The gestures of love haven’t gone unnoticed.
“That’s super humbling. It’s a weird feeling because you kinda hope that they would in the back of your head. But you know there’s a big chance that they might not, and that’s cool too,” he says. “For somebody to take their profile picture, which is a representation of them, to make that my picture, means a lot to me.”
The album celebrates how far Ca$hes has come and adds extra gasoline to the rising popularity of a distinct style of rapping native only to Flint, championed by long-time friend and Flint megastar Rio Da Yung OG. Now, it’s enveloped the local landscape and is present on the eight-track album. Ca$hes spits lyrics intelligently and illustrates his ability to “jump in this bag where we talking crazy,” but able to “take that crazy Flint talk and structure it into a song or actual record.” Although Shipping & Handling see Ca$hes utilize this new style, his features on Kevin Clouds’ and Jeff Skigh’s singles, Yeah and Turnin Right, highlight his early 90s and 00s upbringing and ability to produce good music.
“To be honest, that comes from me being a student of the original game. I remember the VH1’s, Behind The Music, and the lifestyle. You gotta explain who you are and what you’re doing,” Ca$hes says, evoking the childhood of everyone in the room. “You can’t want to be a rapper and not know how to act in front of the camera, how to perform. I pride myself on wanting to be a real artist and all-around creative.”
To understand Flint rap requires knowledge of evolving trends, the importance of social media, and new avenues to make money. The advent of YouTube, Tidal, TikTok, and others, allows greater creative freedom and the ability to create unique music trends—a far cry from the “song structure we felt like we had to do because we come from the era of records labels, MTV, and BET.”
“We started getting home studios where we could make mistakes and figure our way out as opposed to paying $50 an hour. Back in the day, you had to have your stuff memorized perfectly. It was way more uniform,” Ca$hes says, alluding to changing industry dynamics. “Now they’re like, ‘well, we want to see you pop on your own, and then we’ll add gas to the fire.’ But now we figuring out, if we get poppin’ on our own, we don’t need y’all gas.”
But for Ca$hes, getting to this moment means recognizing his mother, who single-handedly raised him on Flint’s northside, which sparked his dreams. Her musical talents scored her a record deal during the era of MC Lyte, Queen Latifah, and Salt-N-Peppa, where female rappers began shifting the rap and Hip Hop landscape. He reveals, leaning into the conversation, a moment with his mother, “in seventh grade [where] I did a song about her, and then she did a poem about me.” The respect and admiration for the woman who raised him in the absence of his father, who, “now that I’m older, we kick it way harder,” extends itself to his six-year-old daughter.
The pride of being a father marks the first time Ca$hes has smiled. Known as “hip-hop pops” while attending daddy-daughter dances or sharing each other’s day over FaceTime when he’s out of town, the bond between them is unbreakable.The pride of being a father produces a smile on Ca$hes’ face. Known as the “hip-hop pops” when attending daddy-daughter dances or sharing each other’s day over FaceTime when he’s out of town, the bond between them is unbreakable. In his words, she’s “confident, outspoken, and knows all of my songs.” A blossoming artist in her own right, his daughter sings, raps, and freestyles. In these aspects, Ca$hes, whose stage name comes from Muhammad Ali’s birth name, Cassius Clay, sees himself as “the people’s champ” and allows his influence to spread beyond music.
“I’m trying to raise the standard of quality, what people expect out of their everyday life. I want to be able to change, impact, and help,” he says. “I want to bring back the love and light that General Motors provided. I feel we can bring that back in more ways than one.”
Now, as Shipping & Handling has released, Ca$hes wants the record to state that you won’t catch him slipping ever again. The choice to raise his daughter and step away from music has only sharpened his senses and passion. But now that she’s older, through music and business endeavors, taking his career to greater heights is at the forefront.
“They catch me turned down it’s a 15-yard penalty or a $5,000 fine,” Ca$hes says with a grin. “I will never get caught turned down again. I got the whole city on my back. It’s on now.”
You can find King Ca$hes on Facebook and Instagram. You can purchase all King Ca$hes merchandise on his website. His latest album, Shipping & Handling, is out now on all media platforms.