(Photo: Interscope Records)
Once thought to be the next R&B/Pop superstar, Cassie found out the hard way just how cruel and unpredictable the music business can be. But she steps into her own and holds nothing back this time around — via a mixtape, of all outlets.
After her breakout hit "Me & U" debuted in 2006, the mononymously known model failed to live up to her initial hype. Even her few singles featuring heavy hitters that she released afterwards never hit the charts.
On RockaByeBaby, her debut mixtape, however, Cassie reinvents herself, singing, rapping and showing a much more risqué side. With her maturity in pocket, an all-star roster of features (risqué experts included) and production reminiscent of that early 2000s Timbaland sound, the project is one of the best efforts the 26-year-old has given us yet.
Wiz Khalifa starts things off with the opening track "Paradise," which also functions as the project's requisite club banger. Pusha T then lends a hand on "Take Care of Me Baby," trading verses with her on the finer things in life. It was a track tailor-made for the G.O.O.D. music emcee.
Other standout verses included French Montana, who offered one of his more memorable 16s on "Addiction," Ester Dean, who flexed her vocal muscles on "Bad B------s," and Rick Ross, who added his signature baritone to "Numb," which also featured Cassie's best verse of the mixtape.
Too $hort does what he's done best for the better part of 25 years — tell freaky tales — as he and Cassie try to one-up one another on "Do My Dance." "Turn Up" featuring Meek Mill is a bass-heavy treat for anyone with a banging system.
Cassie's best song on her own is "I Know What You Want," where she raps over Kendrick Lamar's West Coast mega hit "m.A.A.d. City"
For an R&B mixtape, which is a rarity, RockaByeBaby is near perfect. While one might argue that the ample guest appearances took away from Cassie's shine, each exuded great chemistry with the sultry songstress, helping to hone her new model-raunchy style (a style that she hinted at tongue-in-cheekly on Nicki Minaj's "The Boys").
Ultimately, like her career, RockaByeBaby started off like a lullaby — with similar sounding verses on the tape's first five songs — and then gets raunchier and riskier until one wakes up to recognize it's easily good enough to be an official album.
Whether or not it revives Cassie as an artist remains to be seen.
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