BACKSTORY: The standout lyricist made waves with his Sway’s Universe Cypher appearance and has since been dropping standout freestyles on REAL 92.3 and Power 106, Los Angeles’ major rap radio stations
FROM: Carson, California
YOU MIGHT KNOW HIM FROM: His single “Priority” featuring Blxst, which cracked a million Spotify streams, or his “Him” single with Dom Kennedy
NOW: After signing to Atlantic, the rapper just released his debut record Read the Room
Jayson Cash believes he has a higher purpose. Music is his vehicle, but the Carson, California rapper feels assured that his true impact lies beyond beats and rhymes. “My calling is to open a door for people to be honest with themselves, because I did a lot of lying to myself,” Cash tells me during our interview. “I wore a lot of masks growing up, and I did a lot of things to fit in. The best things that have happened for me have been when I’m really honest and comfortable in my skin. I feel like this is probably the most comfortable I’ve been in my own skin.”
The rapper has reason to feel comfortable. He celebrated the release of his full-length debut Read the Room with a headlining concert at The Roxy in West Hollywood back in May. Beyond getting top-billing status, the show holds special significance for the rising artist. “The city came out,” he says. “It was wild—especially doing it at The Roxy, because that was one of my goals for this year. I told my homies while we were working on my project, ‘I wanna start at the Peppermint Club and then get to The Roxy.’ I ended up having my release party at The Roxy with a crowd full of people. I’m used to being an opening act, and it feels like it was the first time I ever did a show where the crowd was there for me. That was just something in itself—that these people got dressed, put gas in their car, drove from wherever they came from to celebrate my project with me.”
“I know I’m gonna go to ciphers. I know I’m gonna go to radio stations and rap and hold my own because I really can rap. I’m not trying to prove I can rap ’cause I know I can.”
The way Jayson Cash approached making Read the Room stands in stark contrast to his approach on his “Carson in the House” single and video four years ago. Since then, the SoCal rapper has become a father, left his job as a TSA agent, moved out of his mother’s house, and stopped living check to check. Given these major life changes, Cash approaches things dramatically differently than he did in 2018 when he was recording his Affiliated. mixtape.
“When I did Affiliated., I still wanted to be the best rapper,” Cash says. “I still wanted people to say, ‘I rap better than this person, that person, this person.’ I really don't care about that anymore. When I go to the studio, I’m thinking about making the best song I can. I know I’m gonna go to ciphers. I know I’m gonna go to radio stations and rap and hold my own because I really can rap. I’m not trying to prove I can rap ’cause I know I can.
“Now I have a whole different understanding of life,” he continues. “At that time I thought because I can rap, certain things were supposed to happen. Now I look at it like the actual music is the last 10 percent that matters, but it’s the only shit that really matters. You have to have it, but it’s the last thing that matters to the average consumer.”
“I feel like most records that men make ‘for women,’ they aren’t really for women. It’ll be for them. They’re self-serving and from our perspective. I’ve hurt people’s feelings, so I can’t just rap from the perspective like, ‘Oh, women be so foul.’ Nah.”
Thinking like a consumer had Jayson Cash feeling hyped about his 2021 singles “Been in My Bag” and “Priority.” Both made noise in different ways, but didn’t explode nationally. Understanding how the music business really works put things in perspective. “It’s a slow burn,” he says. “But if I got 100,000 plays on some stuff that I just dropped, and the majority of that is in LA, and every time people go to Fin & Feathers they’re hearing ‘Been in My Bag’ or ‘Top Down,’ it’s impacting the streets.”
Genuine impact holds significant meaning for Cash. That’s one of the reasons why the rapper takes accountability for his less-than-admirable actions on Read the Room selection “Selfish.” “Some shit is my fault,” he says. “Sometimes I put myself in positions that I didn’t have to be in. With ‘Selfish,’ it’s making sure that I didn’t bullshit. I feel like most records that men make ‘for women,’ they aren’t really for women. It’ll be for them. They’re self-serving and from our perspective. I’ve hurt people’s feelings, so I can’t just rap from the perspective like, ‘Oh, women be so foul.’ Nah. I’ve done some foul shit, and I’ve been disrespectful. I’ve been selfish and I’ve used my career path as an excuse a lot of times. Even before I was signed, in past relationships, I was doing X, Y, and Z ‘because I’m a rapper.’ But what does that even mean?”
As he gears up for his future endeavors and the next wave of promotion for Read the Room, Jayson Cash has learned to be accountable and to trust his process. “Sometimes things don’t move in the timing that you want them to, but I really feel like there’s a calling on my life and that this is all predestined,” he says. “I just had to be in the position, in the right place, to receive what God really has for me. So I’m learning to make sure that I really trust the process and give reverence to who’s really making this happen, ’cause it’s not me.” FL