Cassel Hamilton, also known as CVSS (pronounced Cass), was born and raised in the streets of North Hamilton in Canada. Numerous brushes with the law had him searching for a brighter path. Soon a new-found passion for music would find him heading in the right direction.
As this new passion turned into a burning obsession, CVSS started to make inroads on local music scenes with multiple championships in freestyle competitions and by recording, mixing and mastering music for other local artists.
Today, CVSS is a part of the team at Rolling Rich Records. He has released his first official LP titled “Selfish Ways”. 2017 marks the dawn of a new era for CVSS as he works towards becoming one of Canada’s most recognized rappers.
How long have you been making music and who are some of the artists that inspired you to want to make music growing up?
I was making music even before I knew I was making music. I look at my life as a soundtrack to my own personal movie of life. My songs reflect my pain, my struggles, my successes … my life. Every high and every low forms the basis for a song. Growing up on the wrong side of town has its disadvantages, but I would also argue, it also has its advantages – let’s just say it inspires a sort of creativity, and creativity is something you need to get ahead in life where I come from. Growing up, I was inspired by a multitude of artists from all different genres – I respect all forms of music – There are obvious influences such as Jay-Z and Kanye West, and then there are less obvious influences (as they were before my time) like Public Enemy and the track “Black Steel in the Hour of Chaos”, Grandmaster Flash and “The Message”. I listen to these tracks and feel like they are talking directly to me. It is because of artists like these that I credit the fact that I feel my tracks need to tell a story. They were before my time, yet their music has completely influenced the type of artist I am — that’s powerful.
How did you get your rap name CVSS?
My government name is Cassle Hamilton and used to go by the name Chase Money. Once I hooked up with Rolling Rich Records, I wanted to change my name to symbolize a new beginning, a rebirth of sorts. I took my name CASS and flipped the A upside down to a V — now I am CVSS (pronounced CASS).
What does it take to build a buzz to get noticed in today’s music industry being a rapper?
I am a firm believer that if you produce music that is unique, has heart and meaning – it will get noticed. My music reflects struggles that may be unique to me but at the same time are so relatable to many people. Once you connect with a listener on that level, then you have something great. I am an artist that creates music, if I can push myself to the limits and create great art, then it is only a matter of time until it builds a buzz and gets noticed.
What type of day-to-day obstacles do you encounter as an artist?
I am a glass half full type of person. I grew up on the wrong side of town and have definitely had my struggles in life, but I survive and I perceive — it is what I do. For every obstacle in my way there is a path around it — I just need to concentrate and find it. I read a quote from one of the co-owners of DUB Magazine and it went something like this (paraphrasing of course) … I am one of 8 immigrant children who grew up with a single mother in the badest part of town and today am a millionaire… What is your excuse? I love that quote because it wakes something up inside of me — I tell myself there is no excuse. So you ask me about obstacles and I tell you there is no such thing — every problem has a solution and to stop and acknowledge obstacles is in itself a weakness. You set your goals in life and you work towards them, no path to ones goals is a straight one, there are twists and turns These twists and turns I call life and form the basis of what I draw from to tell my stories.
What are the advantages you’ve been able to utilize as an independent rapper?
I think the main advantage I have as an independent rapper is the need to have to just “figure things out”. Many may look at that as a disadvantage, and perhaps in the short term there is a good argument for that, but because I do not have a big label that is paving my way and providing certain resources, I have had to find my own path and make my own connections. Long term, I feel this makes me wiser, more knowledgeable and better connected in the industry.
You just released your LP “Selfish Ways”. What can people expect from it?
People can expect that I have laid it all on table and gave it all I got — the album is an uncensored reflection of my life and each track tells its own story in a deliberate sequence. The LP, in its entirety, is really an invitation into the pages of my life — I am hoping people will understand me more as an artist and as a man after listening to it.
Any particular songs you want the people to pay attention to? Where can people get it?
When I first started out I was blessed to have my core supporters (close friends and family) but I found that (what I call) my tier 2 and tier 3 acquaintances, as well as the general public, showed little if any support. In fact, the track “Harmless” is about the people that were around me talking trash and trying to keep me down. A quote from the great Frank Sinatra’s song “That’s Life” always comes to mind in those circumstances… “some people get their kicks stomping on a dream” well, my reaction to that quote is what you will get from “Harmless”. “Clean” is another track that I want people to pay close attention to. It is a reflection of the day after you decided to make a major change in your life and is the celebration of that change. “I can see them in my rear-view” and “not going back to prison not today not tomorrow” the entire song can be taken literally and figuratively. I think everyone can relate to making a life changing decision and reaping the benefits of that.
How much of your real life comes out in your overall music?
All of it. The entire LP represents various chapters and events in my life. It is a direct reflection of my life which is my main inspiration. This LP represents the trials and tribulations of my past. I felt it necessary for my debut LP to represent that part of my life that made me who I am and that got me to where I am today.
What would you say has been your biggest accomplishment so far in your music career?
I really feel my biggest accomplishment has been completing my debut LP. It was a work in process for years and only recently did I feel it was at the point where I was ready to release it. This LP is so personal to me I wanted to ensure it reflected me as an artist and told my stories accurately and in a way that the listener understood it.
What are your personal and professional goals you have set for you and your music?
My personal and professional goals are to continue making music for as long as I physically and mentally can. What matters to me is that people love what I make – as long as you are relevant, interesting and innovative, people will listen — being gold or platinum are just rewards for being relevant, interesting and innovative. So my focus is never on the finish line, my focus is on what is right in front of me — to focus on anything else, in my opinion, is an error.
If you could fast forward time into 5 years, where would you want to see your career?
I would love to be at the point where fans and listeners can’t wait to hear my latest creations. To be considered and recognized as an artist in the eyes of fans would be my greatest accomplishment. Music being a medium of communication that knows no borders, I would love to travel to countries around the world and perform for different people and different cultures.
Where can people find your music and keep up with everything you have going on?
People can check out my website and other my social media platforms below to keep up with the latest and greatest. People can also buy my latest LP “Selfish Ways” by CVSS on most major digital platforms such as iTunes, Amazon, Google Play, CD Baby. Streaming also available on Spotify and other sites. I thank you in advance for the love and support — I am truly humbled by comments and support I have received. Thank you!connect
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