Cutting Down the Competition One By One
There are so many people out there that swear their musical talents should launch them into the limelight. Unfortunately, thereís not many out there with the talent and determination to make sure the limelight touches their face. Cut Castro is one of those people with that golden combination to get him where he deserves to be. And to think it all started with his interest in girls. Today, his seven year grind has been filled with going solo, doing shows, making songs everyone can relate to and battling the gift and the curse that is being an unsigned artist. Cutís well on his way to his dreams and his journey is a testament to his devotion for his craft.
How long have you been on your grind?
I was in a group called BCP, before I became a solo artist. What happened with the group--a lot of egos got involved. When [the split] happened, I wasnít around. I wasnít there. Everyone split up when I was down south for a little while. I came back and was told that the group was no more. I was forced to be a solo artist, but I always wanted to be. It was a gift and a curse. I felt like I had a lot on my chest that I couldnít get off because it was for the team. Thatís what happened. Iíve been recording for a good seven years now. This is my first album Iíve done by myself.
Youíve been grinding for seven years, how old are you?
Iím 25. People have always said that I have a smart mouth. I just think Iím clever with words. I started with writing poems to girls. Then, it just got bigger than that. I started rhyming and recording to hear myself and I had to get used to my voice. It was a process.
In your seven year grind, what made it go from interest to something you wanted to do professionally?
It changed when people actually understood what I was saying with my words and actually appreciated it. Thatís when it clicked and I knew I was really good at this. I had to be because people liked it. If no one liked it, I would have stopped. Thatís when the transition happened. People told me that I should go solo and is manifested from that. I had to get into character when I performed. People assume that how I am is how I perform. Iím laid back, cool and completely different from when I perform. Iím more hype and energetic. My songs are hype. When people see me perform, theyíre surprised. When you see Beyonce perform, itís not how she is off stage.
Where did that name come from--Cut Castro?
I love this question. Cut came from Double Cís which is where I live in the Bronx - northside, near the I-95. I came from there. Everywhere you go, if you ask about Cut, they know me. They named me that because I had a lot of hair and they wanted me to cut it, but I took it as being sharp in terms of appearance and thinking. Castro comes from dictatorship--when I talk, you listen. Whether itís on your iPod or in person, I demand that attention.
Cut to da Chase, is it a mixtape and is this your debut?
I would say this is more of an album. I donít freestyle and this is all original beats, hooks and rhymes from my brain.
When is that out and what can we expect to hear on it?
Itís out right now. You can hear some of it on Facebook, Reelís Primetime Mixtape, DatPiff.com and various radio stations. People can ask me and Iíll mail it to them or ask me for a copy. I always have them to give to people for free. Some people chase money, but with me, itís about the message. Once you tap into who I am, youíll understand why I rap the way I rap. I give show tickets out for free. I donít charge people to come see me. So when a deal does happen, they can remember seeing me for free and know that Iím worth paying for or buying the album.
You mentioned being about the message. In dealing with young guys in hip-hop, they donít focus on issues that would be seemingly important, whereas, booty shaking, drinking, cars and sex find themselves the subjects of most songs. What do you find yourself rapping about most of the time?
My music--I sound like me. I donít sound like anybody. I focus hard on that. I donít want to compete with anyone. I compete with myself. Iím in my own lane. My message varies. You canít put me on a box because I think outside of it. I have a song like, ďIím HomeĒ that talks about me being away. I made it for people that may have went away to college, war or locked up, so when they come home, itís home sweet home. They left and are homesick, but as soon as theyíre back, they know they made it back home. I made a song like, ďCut to the Chase--ď that whole song is about me, witch style and flow, you wouldnít think I was talking about me and what Iím going through. I have songs for girls where I respect them and I have no curses in that song. I have songs where I compare me to a substance, where Iím addictive. I donít focus on one particular thing. I do whatever comes to mind. I have a song talking about being ready to live the life, ready to get married and have a wife, because Iím ready. I know people can relate to that song and like me as an artist.
How do you feel about hip-hop today?
I think itís cool because I appreciate not the artist, but the grind more. It shows the work ethic. I honestly adore that because I donít have a manager, so whatever you see me getting to, Iíve worked for. People may say they donít like a certain type of hip-hop artist because they make dance records, but back in the day, Slick Rick was making dance songs too with Heavy D.
Thereís nothing new under the sun, so I appreciate everything. I donít promote beef. Itís corny to me. When Oprah had Jay-Z on the show, I thought that was kind of cool. It opened the door. Hip-hopís got a bad name, but thereís a message behind everything. Most people look over it, but I love where itís at right now. You have to keep reinventing yourself as an artist.
Who is it that you respect as a hip-hop artist?
Thatís a good question. I wouldnít say I look up to anyone now, in terms of getting to where I want to be, but I like underground artists and myself. Thereís an underground group called The Duo, I like them. Theyíre cool.
If I took your iPod right now, who would I see?
A lot. Youíll see a lot of old school - James Brown, Bobby Womack, Willy Hutch, Curtis Mayfield, Biggie and Pac, Big Pun, Jay-Z--thereís a variety of stuff.
Finish thisÖIf it wasnít for ______, I wouldnít be rapping.
Oh man. At that time, it was Biggie and Bone Thugs. Then I went into Beanie Siegel. Now I like Rick Ross. Thatís just all fat boys with the Bís behind their name.
As an up and coming artist, whatís a challenge youíve had to face?
Convincing people that youíre the one that should be invested in. Thatís the hardest challenge; itís not making music. Itís convincing people--letting them know you really have talent. Itís the whole package--songs, performing and having the best interviews ever--having people drawn to youÖThatís the hardest part. That coincides with the grind. Youíve got to convince people and thatís hard sometimes, especially with no manager as your mouthpiece. You need an engine behind you to be taken seriously.
Do you have all that--a team behind you?
No, I donít have that. Itís me by myself. I have no team.
Donít you think itís important for an independent artist to at least have that? I mean, you did say that yourself.
I think itís very important, in order to get signed. Iíve got a couple of deals with management companies, but Iím not rushing, because when you do, thatís something you may regret later in life. My mother told me to make sure I get the right situation where everyone is happy. Youíre not chasing just to be signed to tell everybody.
Yeah, nowadays, you really donít need to be signed. You see how much Drake was able to do without being signed. You can do everything yourself. These days, people arenít concerned about being signed, theyíre creating their own labels. Do you feel thatís important--getting signed?
I donít want to be local. My music is bigger than an eight block radius. One time I heard Jim Jones say, ďYeah you can be independent, at the same time, you need to be heard on the radio too.Ē You can be good on your block, but what about people in another state that donít know you? If youíre played on the radio, they get to know you and thatís more fans coming your way. Thatís how I look at it. I donít want to be exposed to [just] NYC. I want to be international. Thatís my main goal, getting my message across the world.
What are you currently working on?
Cut 2 Da Chase is dropping in the summer. Next up will be Cut Throat. Thatís what Iím working on. Iím doing interviews--radios shows. Iím shooting a documentary for Cut 2 Da Chase and this whole process. You get to see the whole business savvy side or how I am on the regular--just my whole story, why I do what I do, where it stems from, why I canít be late to certain things. [laughs]
Whatís next for you?
Of course, new music. Iíve got two offers from management companies. Iím looking at it, but Iím not focused on it because thereís so much that I need to do. I will be doing more performances and looking towards a major label.
Where can we find you online?
Twitter @CutCastro, Facebook and just find me on the street. Iím always around.