LJ McIntosh

Cassius Tae: I’m My Only Competition

When you’re in 4th grade and one of your friends and teammates is writing raps you think both of those things are hobbies. Who wasn’t making beats with pens and making raps. For Tae, he was always serious about rap. I remember being in grade school and him having full notebooks of raps. That’s when the switch flipped for me. “Oh, he’s foreal”. You can hear how foreal he is on his latest song “The Search” where he talks about battling through tough times. Speaking of his songs I made my top 5 Cassius Tae songs below. I would put ‘The Search’ in here but decided not to since it just dropped. I remember hearing a few of these songs before they even came out. Tae would play these in the summer when we would all be back home from college. Those were some of the best times. Just hangin’ out vibin’ to music. What more can you ask for? For me personally, music solves a lot of problems. Sometimes we go through things and the music is what we relate to. It can be hearing other people struggle or it can be hearing the pain in someone’s voice on their songs. You get lost in the music and that specific moment. It’s hard for me to just listen to music just because. I like to really pay attention to what’s going on and what people are truly saying. Listening to Tae’s music its easy for me to lock in really dive into the song. Not only because I know him but there are times where some of his experiences have been very similar to my very own. Tae talks about how one of his biggest inspirations is Tupac and how he did a book report on him at a young age. For me, my Tupac or Jay-Z was LeBron James, Derrick Rose & Kevin Garnett. I can remember doing book reports on them and trying to emulate the things they would do or even changing my number so I could believe I was actually them. From playing basketball together as kids, cracking jokes in a group chat, or even holding it down in a few of his music videos I can truly say Tae is an artist we can learn from. No matter what kind of mood you might be in he has music to fit your vibe. Here is more about his story, what inspires him, and a few things we might not know about him.

1. Roses
2. Better You
3. Can’t Get Close
4. 3:45 AM 
5. My Story, His Story

When did you start writing lyrics and making music and who are some of your inspirations for doing so?

“I think it’s always about how I can share something I’ve overcome or I’m feeling that I know others are feeling but can’t articulate. And it always happens after a long conversation. I try to voice memo all my meaningful convos. A lot of people naturally drop gems when in a flow state. I even say amazing things myself. And when I hear certain beats, those stored experiences, convos, thoughts, and feelings just flow out on whatever piece of music is presented in front of me.”

For your song “If and When” you do a short to promote it and talk about how basketball aligned with imagination, desire, belief, and mindset. Talk about how your love for basketball ties into your everyday workflow.

“Just like every Chicago kid watching Michael play, I wanted to play ball. I wanted to be known for doing something amazing that most people couldn’t do, but want to do. Seeing Jay-Z interviews are inspiring, but it’s something about watching Kobe talking about the mindset of a winner that gets me out of my seat. There is no gym in music, but as a creative, I can make one! My room is the gym, to be able to go to the studio which is the pre-season, to drop a record which is the season opener, to then get booked for a show, which is the post-season. If it’s a year I’m dropping an album or an EP I’m going to the finals. I treat every moment like I’m on the biggest stage.”

You’re traveling to South Africa soon to do your music tour. What has you excited about your first tour and the impact it’ll have on your career?

“The most exciting thing is every time I got in the studio from December to February I said, “I’m going on tour this year, naw this summer! And I’m going to get booked for a festival too!” Whenever I said it, people in the room would lecture on “how things work,” look at me crazy, or say “If you work really hard this year, MAYBE you can next year” So when I got booked I was excited to know I was right. And I was happy to know I’m going to the motherland! I’ve been talking to people who are fans of my music over there for a long time and they’re excited to see me too. It feels good to have this new level of confidence because that’s the key to obtaining everything I see for myself in my career!”

So for those that don’t know you aren’t just an artist. You model as well. What made you want to get into modeling?

“I honestly got into modeling out of necessity. I was getting booked for so many shows and never had biopics, and then I started making merch but I knew no one would buy unless I was wearing it. Somehow by the end of 2016, I had a portfolio. From 2017 until now it’s all been a blip. Modeling opportunities always come to me ironically around big releases too. I also manifested being signed to a streetwear brand, I spoke that constantly and people would say maybe you should try to be a retail catalog model. When I got signed to WAVS I knew it was big! A lot has happened since then. Now I see myself having a contract with a big household brand.”

How do you prepare before taking the stage for a show?

“I pray before every show. I always thank God for the people in the audience and for him gifting me the words to entertain, motivate, or inspire people. I pray that I remember every word and in the event that I don’t I find a clever way to recover. I pray for every movement on stage to be flawless and confident and that I walk away with at least one super fan. And then I thank God for this show and I pray that this brings me more opportunities. All the work I’ve done is nothing without thanking God for being in me the whole way.”

As an artist, you’re doing more than just writing lyrics all day: you make merch, content, and you’ve got to plan and post that content as well. How do you strategically plan your day, week, or month?

“If I got a good post it always starts with getting attention the day before. I post really late on my story like 11 pm/midnight. Get all the likes from the night owls. In the morning when those who were sleeping log in, I’m the first person they see. If I have 200+ story views by 8 am, that’s confirmation to drop. If the drop does over 100 likes in an hour then I know I can post again that day around 4 pm. I pretty much run that same cycle. And then when posting in the week goes dry. I talk to people on my story and make engaging posts while DMing people. If I DM 5-7 people and have a good convo Then I redo that cycle again because now I’ve personally engaged with people making them the first they invest in me and tell others what I got going on.”

How did you fight through outside noise and stay focused on your goal of doing what you love when some might say you should get a job or focus on school?

“I honestly think that’s been the hardest part of the journey. I never doubted myself in anything until I graduated. I had a hard time hearing people’s fears about my life daily and I watched how I veered off the path. It’s funny to me too how the pressure to leave music or do it less was heavily put on me when I did 50+ shows the year I graduated. Then the next year I started leaving Chicago to get away from people like my step mom who would constantly say that. I was buying groceries, clothes, gas, and other needs from show money. Doubt led to so many years of rebuilding myself. I never thought of stopping but I had more what if I don’t make it then I know I will type of thoughts. But they say even in darkness there is light and things grow in the dark. So without that darkness, I wouldn’t have thought of the brand Moments In Desire. And I wouldn’t have thought of that mission statement for the brand “Every Moment You Desire, Will Be Yours.” These were really affirmations used to climb out of a hole.”

How did you come up with the name Cassius Tae?

This story is one of my favorites to tell because it was years in the making. It first started with a friend of mine named Kyla calling me Tae in the 6th grade. She wanted to call me something that was different than anyone else because we were like best friends at the time. Most people would just call me D or by my name Deonté. But Tae had stuck. Also, my entire life I’ve always looked up to Michael Jordan and Muhammad Ali. Until I was about 7 years I’d always introduce myself as Mike because no one couldn’t tell me I wasn’t him. So naturally Cassius came from that same child-like creativity because nobody couldn’t tell me I wasn’t the greatest. I came up with the name talking to my homie Mike Reid when I was 15 and I was like man, I need a name that looks good on billboard! And I had written down like hella rap names that fall going into winter as I was about to turn 16. Nothing hit. One day Mike comes over to kick it after my birthday and we’re listening to 10-Day, by Chance The Rapper. And this man had a line in the Intro where he says “Cassius Clay, at his head” and I’m like OMG!! That’s it! That’s the name. The sound of Cassius sounded too good in a song to not believe it wasn’t my name. So we instantly wrote down Cassius Tae EVERYWHERE! It looked too catchy on paper and on the computer, we just knew. It was fun to say and it had elements of my real name which was big for me because all my favorite rap artists have elements of their real name too.

Tell us about some of your greatest accomplishments as an artist?

I think my greatest accomplishment is having a vision and the ability to think original thoughts. I’ve done some amazing things like 1,000 plays in a day for a video. 10,000 streams first week my first project New Beginnings dropped, Over 250k streams on my EP Moments In Time, 40k from my EP Alone In Blue Hour, had my song Miss Me from that EP featured in a movie, shot a $20,000 budget music video for Portra 400 and I didn’t have to fund it, performed at every major college in Michigan, opened for Taylor Bennett, Rakim, Stalley, and others. Countless sold-out shows, performing with orchestras in front of 1,000 people. Doing 3 shows in front of 1,000 people, Being featured in Sway, modeling for Footlocker twice, and Jordan. Designing for Footlocker and now the lead designer for 19Keys. Also, constantly selling out every merch drop. Like man, it’s so much stuff I’m not even naming. And on top of that, I’m about to go on my first tour in South Africa! Like what! I spoke that every day this year. These accomplishments are only great because I saw them first in my mind. And 90% of these happened during 3 years post-graduation of doubt. 2023, the year of the 7, the year of creation through manifestation has been my most abundant year simply because I believe in myself so much! And I meditate and give thanks with no fear. If I can see it clearly as I think it, all I do is claim it and it appears.

Wrap Up

I hope everyone was able to find a piece of this interview to touch or inspire them. Cassius Tae is going on tour next month and will be looking to inspire others in South Africa for the EAT. PRAY. STUDY TOUR. Presented By M.E.L. International Schools and Plugged Events he will be in Johannesburg & neighboring cities & countries! The goal is to provide: 400 ‘Student Care Packages to send to Africa! Last year 15K was raised and now they are increasing that number. You can contriubte to their cause on their gofundme page. You can follow the journey and Cassius Tae below!


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