Cassidy Says R. Kelly Was Unplanned Guest In His 'Hotel'

Philly rapper never expected the R&B crooner to jump on his track.

Cassidy didn't gain a reputation for being one of the most brutal wordsmiths on the underground circuit by being insecure. So on Monday, two days before he would learn the first-week SoundScan sales figures of his debut LP, Split Personality, Cass wasn't stressing anything.

"I know I brought good music to the table," he said of the album. "I know good people are backing it, it should win, but you never know. I don't wanna base [my status as an artist] on how well my album sells, because I feel I'm the best regardless. I felt I was the best before I put the album out."

Cass took that confidence to R. Kelly's studio in Chicago several months ago when he made the song that changed his life and skyrocketed his career, "Hotel."

"I was listening to Kelly before I got into the business. I never expected to be in the studio with him," Cassidy said. "Even when I was in the studio with him, I never expected to do a song with him — I thought we was just going to chill. ... It was a blessing, a shock. But I was going through so much at the time and had been through so much already, I knew I was ready to handle it."

As Cass puts it, rather than him feeling pressure from working with the legend, he felt the industry would be under pressure once they finished their collaboration.

"The session was a regular day," the Philly native remembered. "They invited us to the studio, his family was there, the cats that be in the studio. We was drinking and laughing and having fun. Kelly put on the beat CD and every beat that came on, he had a chorus for it. He had the microphone in the studio. Not in the booth, in the studio where the boards and stuff is at. He'd sing to the beats, and if he sang something he really liked, then he'd go in the booth and record it. He was working."

Not only did Kelly record his parts for the original version of "Hotel," he laid down parts for the song's remix and gave Cass and Swizz Beatz (Cass' mentor, label CEO and producer) extra vocals in case they needed them.

The explosion of "Hotel" introduced Cass to a lot of new fans. No longer limited to just a following of mixtape heads or people in Philadelphia who used to listen to him when he would freestyle on local radio, Cass is buzzing on the mainstream.

Conscious of his growing fanbase, the lyrical tyrant catered his LP to everyone. The first third is labeled "Cassidy" for all the people who have just come to know of him. The second part of the album is called "Tha Problem" for all the people who first heard of him on street CDs. And the last part of Split Personality is "B. Reese" for all the cats who remember him from before he was signed.

Cassidy's next single, "Get No Better," is a Full Surface family affair with his labelmate Mashonda. The battle champ shot the video last week in Los Angeles with Mashonda, Swizz, guest star Kanye West and the video's leading lady, model Vida Guerra.

"From the beginning of the video I'm rhyming, it's performance scenes," Cassidy said. "[Vida] hops out of the car with her girlfriends, and that's my first look at her. Then she goes to a project building where there's a party, and I go following her. Then we have the house party scene where it's nothing but girls. I'm walking through the party trying to get to her. It's a love scene on the elevator. It gets real romantic, we're making out on the elevator. I feel as though it's going to be way better than the 'Hotel' video."

Staying true to his raps, Cass will be using plenty of room keys during the coming months. He's about to head to London for a promo tour, and when he gets back to the States he'll be making the final decision about which tour he wants to go on. He said he had several offers on the table but wanted to wait and see how his album did on the chart before saying yes to anybody. He didn't want to shortchange himself.

Well, with his LP debuting at #2 with more than 100,000 copies sold in the first week, he's in the driver's seat when it comes to asking prices (see "Cassidy's 'Hotel' No Match For Norah Jones' Home On Albums Chart").