Published on August 6th, 2019 | by Percy Crawford0
Kasual Kas Uses Past Experience as an Artist to Become a Prominent Manager!
Kasual Kas begin his musical career as a budding rap artist. However, the Brooklyn born, Kas would experience every angle of the music business; rapper, song writer, A&R and management. Kas admits, he wasn’t ready for the early success and money that came along with his first record deal. His biggest moment as an artist came in 2012 when he released the single, “Floyd Mayweather,” a dedication song of the lifestyle of the undefeated boxer. On his 2006 album, “Everythingz Done Kasually,” he had features with, Akon and Fabolous. Before retiring as an artist, he released a mixtape titled, “Best To Never Make It.” Putting down the mic was a blessing in disguise. Now a partnered with, Ali Dee, Kas is a prominent industry manager and his stable of rising stars continues to grow. He currently manages the talented, “Zombies” star and fellow New Yorker, Meg Donnelly, “Lion King,” star [Simba] JD McCrary, Power 105 DJ, DJ Nyla Symone and he has worked with popular YouTube dance sensation known for her role on, “Dance Moms,” JoJo Siwa.
It was 7-years ago that you dropped the, “Floyd Mayweather” record and we conducted our first interview together. How crazy is that?
Kasual Kas: 7-years ago? That’s crazy. Bro, that’s crazy.
How is everything going?
Kasual Kas: Man, everything is great. From 7-years ago, I kind of did a career 180 and just kind of left the artist thing alone. I realized that… I had some success, but I think I’m better at helping new artists develop and get their careers off and running. That’s been my talent over the last 6-years. I have been managing for 6-years now.
When you make a decision like that, you have to put ego to the side and somewhat humble yourself. Was that difficult for you?
Kasual Kas: So, let me tell you, it was an easy pill to swallow because I ended up having to get a regular job, bro. I was working an overnight job at a hospital. Ego aside, I was literally doing an overnight shift. Nobody knew because during the day I was still running around doing my thing. That shit humbled me. That was the most humbling shit ever. And somebody bumped into me at the hospital too. They were like, “Kas?” I was like, “Ah man.” That was the most humbling part. So, moving forward I let people know, I was an artist that didn’t quite make it. I know the things that I did wrong in my career and I won’t let my artists’ make those same mistakes and shit.
When you say that, what are some of the mistakes you feel you made when you were an artist?
Kasual Kas: These are easy. Work ethic was definitely one of them. I got on and I made a lot of money quick. I stopped working as hard as I did before I got the money. That’s one and two, I think it was the passion. I think I was in it for the wrong reasons, bro. Honestly, when it came to performing… I’ll never forget. I was on tour with, Flo Rida. It was like 17,000 people in the crowd. Instead of being like nervous and having butterflies going and having that adrenaline rush, I literally in the back of my mind was thinking like, “I hope the promoter got the back end of my money.” I just think I wasn’t built to be an artist. People don’t understand how tough of a job that is. Night in and night out you have to be at your best and perform and be selfless in the fact that your fans own you and I wasn’t ready for that shit. So, that was easy.
Now, you have The Practice Worldwide Management. How did this come to fruition?
Kasual Kas: I met a guy by the name of, Ali Dee. He is my management partner now. At the time I met him, I was an A&R for a record label. I won’t say their name because I don’t rock with them no more like that. But Ali Dee wanted to meet with me, and he said, let’s have lunch for 30-minutes… 45-minutes to just kind of talk about what I was doing. That lunch turned into a 4-hour pow wow, bro. The next week me and him formed this company and we just been going at it ever since. It’s kind of crazy.
Being that you and Ali spearheaded this thing, I’m sure it means the world to you because it’s yours.
Kasual Kas: It’s amazing because I remember my mom, rest in peace [Tina]. My mom just passed. I literally remember my mom telling me, “You’re either going to get out there and get it yourself or you’re going to work for somebody and help them get it.” That shit always stuck in the back of my mind because I was like, I really don’t want to help somebody else… manifest their dreams and then all I get out of it at the end of the week is a paycheck. In the beginning it was like, we’re going to need some money, we gotta find the right artists, but I knew regardless, it was mine. I was more passionate about this than I was anything because I realized this is ownership to my vision. I’m not looking back, bro.
Music has been your passion, so managing artists, especially the group you have, is right up your alley.
Kasual Kas: It’s perfect because I don’t have the performing and things like that on my shoulders and my chest anymore. And obviously I’m older now. I’m not a kid anymore. Developing artists that don’t know as much as me creatively; how to create songs and how to arrange them. The business, because I’ve been in this shit. There is a lot of crooks and a lot of snakes there and I just want to make sure that my artists are always on point. I just educate them, man. This is where I belong.
Everything that you just said, is that why you work with younger artist?
Kasual Kas: I feel like they can be molded a little more. I feel like some of the older artist who has a record deal, they are kind of set in their ways. The younger kids listen to me and I also want to grow old with them. I just started managing, “Young Simba” [JD McCrary] from the Lion King. He is 12-years old. This is not a get-rich-quick scheme. I want to be in his life the next 30-years.
I was playing a snippet that you posted on your Instagram and my daughters ran in the room asking, “Who is that? He can sing.” That kid is so talented.
Kasual Kas: That’s good to hear. His parents did a really good job of grooming him and keeping him way from just the trends of the music industry and how people run gimmicks. That boy sings. We always say, “You gotta take em to church.” He’s really about the culture of the music and not so much trying to get famous. I mean, Beyoncé is a fan of his. He’s the real deal, bro. I’ve never come across a kid that young that actually does this. There’s no gimmicks, there’s no auto tune. There’s none of that.
To see him next to, Childish Gambino and not see an ounce of nerve. He just held his own. It was amazing to watch.
Kasual Kas: Oh nuts. Which actually led to the, Lion King play because you know, Childish Gambino is, “Simba” all grown up and JD was the kid. It just goes to show you his poise. At the time I think he was 11. A lot of young kids wouldn’t be able to handle standing next to him and perform. And people don’t realize, that happen at the, Grammy’s. So, think about the live studio audience and the millions of people watching it. He was calm and he out there singing like it ain’t nobody’s business (laughing).
How did your management company get attached to Disney?
Kasual Kas: So, the crazy thing again, I gotta shout out, Ali Dee. He’s been working for Disney now for 25-years. When he brought me on, I just wanted to give it a perspective of culture. I know Disney dabble in hip-hop, but not the real culture of hip-hop. It’s more like surface hip-hop. I just wanted them to dive in a little deeper. Look at, Meg [Donnelly]. Meg is not like your typical cookie cutter pop artist. She dances. She’s a hip-hop head. She’s been dancing her whole life. She’s from “Hell’s Kitchen” basically. She’s from Harlem. So, I was like, why can’t we actually dive into the culture. And they have been responsive. They are like, “Let’s do it. as long as it doesn’t degrade their integrity,” they are like, “Let’s do it.” And I think I’ve been finding a good balance on how to push the needle with them culture wise and still keep the respect and the family aspect for the people listening to it.
There is a line there that you have to toe, but if you listen to Disney soundtracks and things in the past, they almost had an opera feel to them. You are bringing collaborations between, Meg Donnelly and Fetty Wap to the table and that’s culturally current.
Kasual Kas: My thing is this, of course you can’t get too edgy because there are parents watching and you are catering to a much younger demographic. I’m a parent, so I know what my daughter wants to hear, and I know where the line needs to stop, but at the same time, you don’t ever want people to consider something corny. Disney has been at the forefront of everything for so long, people kind of like to find their own music now. And for a little while I think people were calling it corny. My thing is, these kids are talented, man. They spend all this time dancing and singing, but you don’t really get to see it when you watch a Disney movie or see a video. I was like, “Why are ya’ll not showing that? They fire! Why we can’t get, Fetty and Meg on a song? Fetty was a pop star.” The boy sold 40-million records. Households love him. They took a chance and it paid off.
When you were a rapper, the demographic you were trying to reach is much different than the one you are trying to reach now under the Disney banner. Was it just about making adjustments?
Kasual Kas: No bro. It wasn’t any adjustment because, to be honest with you, fire is fire. Hot is hot. I listen to pop songs. I’m a big fan of top 40 radio. What’s hot is what’s hot and if it’s not then it ain’t. I’ve kept that whole mindset from the time I was born. If I love something… not to say I’m the tastemaker of the world, but I know what’s hot. My ears could ring with something that’s fire. It’s been easy for me to say, “Listen, this is hot.” I don’t care what genre it is. My ears never get dated because I work with so many young kids. Meg sends me, bro, no lie, Meg sends me 25 to 30-songs a week just to keep me in tune of what they are listening to. I’m like, “Man, I’m out of the loop.”
That’s crazy because I remember when you were an artist. You would tweet a song is fire and I would click on it and it would be a country song or something that no one would probably guess you would be listening to.
Kasual Kas: I know. You know what’s crazy about that, I guess because I was a writer and I always came from that perspective of writing. I used to write poems and stories. I always can hear when somebody’s pen is authentic. So, it didn’t matter if it was a country record. I used to be like, “Man, whatever this person went through, this is some real shit.” I could feel it the way they were writing the record. It didn’t matter what music was behind it because it spoke to me. I just felt it. My friends used to be like, “Man, turn that shit off.” And I’m like, “Shit? Are you kidding me? Taylor Swift is one of my favorites. It’s like she is literally writing her diary down on this album. It’s more authentic than the shit that they were listening to.
I know you just wrapped up, “Descendants 3” soundtrack, you are working with, Meg Donnelly and JD McCrary. Just tell us about everything you have going on right now.
Kasual Kas: On the management side, I’ve been managing, Meg Donnelly who just got finished shooting the, “Zombies 2,” which is going to be amazing. They went all in on this one. JD McCrary with “The Lion King” right now. It’s breaking records in the box office. I’m so blessed to be a part of his life. “Descendants 3” just released last week, we got the #1 soundtrack in the country right now for that. Just music, man. JD is working on his album, Meg is working on her album and I’m just excited to see where the next 50-years take me, bro.
I’m so proud of you, Kas. It’s been amazing seeing the growth and being a small part of your early career. Continued success, my brother. Is there anything else you would like to add before I let you get out of here?
Kasual Kas: Real shit! You have been a part of this journey. My Facebook is a little more intimate instead of me like just posting on social media and you were one of the first people that reached out to me when I did the, “Floyd Mayweather” joint. So, there is always love, man. I also want to take this time to say, it was an honor working with, Cameron Boyce. His spirit and smile will live in all of us. Shout out to, JoJo Siwa. We worked with her as well. And also, shout out to Power 105’s only female DJ, DJ Nyla Symone. She is someone else that I manage. She’s awesome!Tweet