Since the turn of the millennium, regional influences in rap music have shifted from its coastal beginnings to the American south. Texas, Louisiana, Tennessee, Georgia, and Florida have become breeding grounds for the most popular rappers of the past decade. And to the credit of these performers, their success stems just as much from unheard-before styles as it does from the entrepreneurial spirit necessary to gain exposure without the help of record executives in New York and Los Angeles.
The Internet has also been an invaluable asset for rappers seeking recognition. And in the case of Tyler Cassidy, YouTube helped the Alabama-based rapper turn his labor of love into a small business. Last year, Cassidy’s music videos earned him an appearance on Comedy Central’s Tosh.0, where millions of people got a taste of his dull-witted but well-meaning persona, ‘Krispy Kreme.’ Using humor as a way to engage an unsuspecting audience, Cassidy’s alter ego captivated YouTubers who wondered whether he suffered from a mental defect, all the while establishing himself as a personality to whom people couldn’t help but pay attention.
Today, as Froggy Fresh—the donut giant Krispy Kreme caught wind of the phenomenon, resulting in a name change—Cassidy continues to set everyone up for an ‘Attitude Adjustment.’* With his Money Maker (Reloaded) album, Cassidy has put together a body of work that not only includes the funny songs that made him internet-famous, but also some new music that tells listeners that he is, in fact, for real. And when listening to the entire album, it is apparent that the sincerity with which he endows Froggy Fresh remains consistent in spite of the changes in narrative tone.
Whether emulating the hyperbolic boasting inherent to rappers or professing his undying friendship to his counterpart Money Maker Mike, Money Maker (Reloaded) exists as both a commentary on the resonant elements of rap music and a declaration that honoring your passions in an emotionally sincere way does not compromise one’s credibility as an artist, even in rap music. The underlying brilliance of “The Baddest,” and the disarmingly dramatic “Mike’s Mom” and “Er” (as in emergency room) exemplify Cassidy’s range as a storyteller who wants to make a legitimate mark in music.
Although his career has only just begun, it would not outlandish to expect Cassidy to be considered an evolved version of “Weird Al” Yankovic. But instead of parodying specific songs, Cassidy is poised to parody the entire zeitgeist (which has become a parody of itself) with his uniquely meta-referential showmanship. And in a time where even southern rap is being corporately sterilized, Tyler Cassidy’s self-made rise stands to influence a new generation of young artists who may already feel the tightening grip of cookie cutter expectations.
Here’s hoping that the major label machine doesn’t grab hold of Tyler Cassidy and bastardize what made his work so enjoyable. Then again, we would all be lying if we said we would not sell out for the right situation. And if he does, well, at least we’ll be able to say, “We loved his earlier work.”