In the crevices of social and political discourse dividing us from one another, there’s a unifying language by which internet users on any platform understand. That language is the meme, that shapeshifting construct that’s been both a blessing and a curse to the millennial. Though most of us would like to think we know a thing or two about them, some of us have more meme magic than others. Ka5sh is one of those people who’ve essentially mastered the art, and his online presence is grounded upon this talent. Self identified and most known as a “content creator and artist,” he’s also a rapper “first and foremost” — and a pretty damn good one at that. If my word doesn’t suffice, then maybe the fact that Frank Ocean played Ka5sh’s single “I’m Depressed” on Blonded Radio can vouch for that.
However, even post-Blonded, Ka5sh’s status as a household name is still in progress. On the comeup, he’s more or less doing his thing like he’s been doing for some time now. Whether his name rings a bell or not, his track record speaks for itself. At this point, the meme is past its prime — top-tier nonetheless — but remember that whole “I fuck with the vision fam let’s link I’m tryna build” meme? Courtesy of Ka5sh. “I fuck with the vision” is easily his most recognizable creation, and while its ripping of hypebeasts, Soundcloud rappers and Supreme was hilarious, it’s only a fraction of his meme portfolio.
Hailing from Fayetteville, North Carolina, Ka5sh moved on over to LA recently for a change in life trajectory. “Life sucked in Fayetville,” he says matter of factly, “I had all these goals and aspirations but nothing would happen, it was pointless trying to make a life there.” Back in Fayetville, Ka5sh played with a group of friends that meshed elements of punk and hip-hop in a group called Weirdo. But the problem with Weirdo was an inability to break through the underground, reaching success relatively close to fellow LA rapper Bones — admirable, but not the thing Ka5sh wanted. By the look of his success here, it’s safe to say his decision to move was fruitful. “I love my new (music) way more now” too, he adds.
Moving to LA was a life-changing transition for the 25 year-old, so much so that he dedicated his first project under the name Ka5sh to his experiences. Released early this year in March, the “I’m Depressed” EP is a pseudo-autobiographical collection of songs that capture what it was like moving to LA. “‘H.M.U.’ is about me like in love with internet girls,” he says, specifically referencing Instagram model Erin Jeen, whom Ka5sh had created an entire storyline about. “I created a storyline as if I’m in love with her and she’s ignoring me,” which speaks to his humorous “memey” side that shines through on the EP. “‘I’m Depressed’ is literally me when I first moved to LA. I got super depressed, I had no money, no food, I was laying on my roommates’ floor making memes all day,” he says.
It’s not too hard to get the gist of the EP, as the songs essentially detail the mindset he occupied at the time. Take, “Where Yo Head At,” for instance; it’s a banger that oozes mainstream appeal while introspectively questioning his newfound aimlessness in LA — it’s in the title speaking for itself. Easily the most essential pop track on the album is the brightly apologetic “Blame It on Me,” an honest love letter of a joint that showcases Ka5sh’s pop sensibilities. There’s also a surprisingly violent story hidden into the origins of “Wus Poppin,” a song about a friend of Ka5sh’s was stabbed right in front of him.
While the EP was a success, Ka5sh is naturally looking forward to his future in music. When asked why he wanted to be a pop star (referencing an interview with YNOT), his response gave way to an interesting conversation about race in America. “I think people put rappers in a box and it has to do with racism,” he tells me, in reference to artists who identify as rappers and consequently face invisible barriers. See, “pop stars like Miley Cyrus … and rockstars are able to navigate different circles, like one day you’re talking about being high off purp then the next you drop your act,” he says, speaking on Cyrus’ decision to abandon hip-hop to return to her country roots. “It’s like what Kanye said, Kanye West says it all the time,” citing West’s track “It All Falls Down.” He couldn’t repeat it verbatim, but the message was clear. In the song, West raps, “even if you in a Benz you still a nigga in a coupe,” which Ka5sh says implies “there’s a glass ceiling with being a rapper. Fuck it, I want to be a pop star because I actually don’t want to hit a box.”
When asked about his influences, Ka5sh was quick to note the significance of SpongeBob in developing his sense of humor (relatable). “The campfire episode’s the hardest thing ever,” he says in between laughter. Musically, Travis Scott serves a dual role for Ka5sh, acting as an inspiration but also an archrival. “I keep wanting to hate him but he’s just so good,” noting La Flame’s recent string of successes. Lil Uzi Vert and D.R.A.M. fit in there too, and while he takes inspiration from fellow rappers he digs, his future in the industry seems like it will blossom independent of these influences.
Ka5sh has still got some distance to bridge before earning a following more deserving of his talent. Currently, he’s obsessing over Chanel West Coast and steadily getting people to fuck with his vision. Keep up with Ka5sh on Soundcloud, Twitter and Instagram, and check out the “I’m Depressed” music video via Westwood Westwood.