Sometimes you gotta put your mind to something, sometimes you don't. Guess which approach Swizz Beatz took going in to produce Cassidy's song "I'm a Hustla."
"I didn't do too much thinking on it," Swizz said. "I didn't sit there and plan, 'Oh, I'm going to do a hustla record.' " He just liked the Jay-Z sample from "Dirt Off Your Shoulder" and took it from there. "I'm a DJ first, so I just know what [samples] I would like to keep bringing back."
The song was first intended to be a freestyle, "but when we do our freestyles, I don't like to take other people's beats and do their songs over," Swizz said. "I like our freestyles to be songs that we made in the studio, that way we're being more creative about it so it could pop off."
Like "I'm a Hustla" did.
"You take everything in this industry serious because you never know what the people will like," Swizz said.
By the time Cassidy came to the beat, he had about 50 bars ready. But Swizz thought it was too long. "He chopped it in half and put it out on the streets," Cassidy explained. "A kid named Rampage from the Flipmode Squad DJs ... started playing it in the clubs. So one day I went to the club to go check him out and [people] were going crazy like it was a single or something. I was like, 'Man, they going crazy like this and it ain't even song-formatted.' "
But even after seeing the huge response to the track, they weren't convinced it should be the first single on Cassidy's album.
"We was just putting out music to let everybody know that we was still bangin'," Cass said. "It started blowing up, so finally we said, 'Hey, we might as well bang 'em right again.' "
And as if the song weren't ubiquitous enough already, they're bangin' 'em again with a remix featuring Mary J. Blige. "Shout out to Mary," Cassidy said. "She looked out for me like crazy. We didn't get a chance to be in the studio together because she was doing her music and I was doing mine, but it turned out beautiful."
"It's a good exchange," Swizz said. "She was a fan of Cassidy's and he was a fan of hers. So we reached out to the queen. We got the king; let's get the queen rocking."
Because of the success of "I'm a Hustla," Cassidy, clearly one to drive a point home, has changed the name of his forthcoming album from Personality Change to I'm a Hustla (June 28). But Swizz disagreed that the guys might be getting too redundant.
"I read in a magazine that I'm not being creative, that I'm running out of ideas because I keep using Jay, but I think that was a genius move right there. Why we gotta wait till an artist is dead and gone to use a sample that you like? I think that's showin' love. Some people took it the wrong way, but the rest of the world is partying to it, so I don't really let it get to me."