By Hans Olson
Late last year, Brooklyn rapper Michael Passias (better known as Kasual) released the video for “Floyd Mayweather,” a clip that has gone viral. A longtime fight fan, Boxing Insider caught up with Kasual to discuss “Floyd Mayweather,” the sweet science, the music industry, and more!
Boxing Insider: Thanks for taking the time to do this interview man. Can you tell our readers a little bit about yourself, and how you got to where you are now?
Kasual: “I’m originally from Brooklyn, NY. I started rapping very, very, young. As far as like putting words together…probably at like the age of 11, 12 years old. You know, I started writing and learning the format of writing music. And then I would say at the age of 15 or 16, I was taking trains into the city to do these little showcases—they’re kind of like open mics, and there’s maybe like 20 people there. I remember getting booed originally in the beginning…I wasn’t that good…but I just kept doing it, progressing, progressing, progressing. Eventually I started making it to these showcases where there were like small record labels—like independent labels that had studios in their basements and stuff like that. Then somebody picked me up by the name of Sebastian Tauz who had this small thing called Cet it Off records based on Long Island. From there, I started recording with him, taking it a little more serious and made a demo. He introduced me to DJ Khaled, Rick Ross, Akon, and from there I got a deal with We the Best. I signed a 50/50 deal with We the Best Music Group—with them…Cet it Off records…it kind of took off from there.”
Boxing Insider: Can you tell me how your song “Floyd Mayweather” came together?
Kasual: “We were watching the Mayweather/Ortiz fight, and I kind of like made a joke; I was saying that Victor really didn’t believe he was going to win. I don’t think anybody really thought Ortiz was going to win the fight…but for him, it was a great payday either way. What’d he get? Two, three million dollars? That was his biggest payday at the time. So I kind of made a joke and said that Victor Ortiz was joining the Money Team because Mayweather basically gave him a payday. Mayweather could have fought anyone and got them that big check. So I started singing this thing ‘join the Money Team, come and join the Money Team…’ and everyone kind of laughed. Then the fight was over, and with how Mayweather knocked him out, everyone was like ‘you should record that song and call it ‘Floyd Mayweather.’’ So I then went and recorded the song, and when it came time to shoot the video, I wanted to do it like in Vegas, but for me to bring a camera crew all the way to Vegas, it would have cost me a lot of money. So I decided to do it down in Miami where it’s very bright, and the visuals would be easily seen. We shot the video and then they released it and World Star Hip Hop, which is like one of the biggest websites for hip hop music, they posted it and kind of grew, and grew, and grew. Now we’re here man! We’re still trying to get the record to move on but it’s been doing really well. We’ve been getting a lot of press from it.”
Boxing Insider: Have you heard anything from Floyd, or anybody in his team and their thoughts on it?
Kasual: “Yeah, a couple of people from his team have acknowledged us. There’s a guy by the name of Success Jae who Floyd follows on Instagram and Twitter. He’s part of the Money Team, and he’s part of Floyd’s entourage. He loves the record. One of Floyd Mayweather’s artists whose name is SL500, I just finished recording a record with him that’s gonna probably be out in March. So a couple of them acknowledge me and from what I heard, they said that Floyd has probably heard the record, but Floyd’s not the type to acknowledge something unless it’s smart for him business wise.”
Boxing Insider: So going back to music in general…where the music industry is at, it’s so difficult for really, any kind of independent artist to start. How hard is it for you? It’s very much like a fighter coming up through the ranks. It’s very, very, difficult to not only get noticed, but to be successful once you are noticed…
Kasual: “Well, the thing about the music industry…and I’ve been in it for a really, really, really long time…is that at least in boxing, you can come up. It’s going to be hard for you to be 40-0 and not get a big fight. Eventually someone’s going to have to fight you. Like in MMA, the UFC…the elite fighters at least get a chance to work themselves up in the rankings. It’s kind of like, the people and the powers that be control the music industry. So they keep the same people. There can be young, independent people that are better than the major artists but you’ll never hear them because the major artists are in their 40’s and they’re still putting out these records where the 19, 20, 21 year olds will still struggle. At least in the boxing game, if you’re 20 years old and you’re knocking everybody out, you’re gonna raise some eyebrows. In the music game, if you don’t have that major major backing, it doesn’t matter what your record is or how big your song is. You can only do so much without that machine behind you.”
Boxing Insider: What are your thoughts as an artist on file-sharing, illegal downloading, and all the controversy recently with the SOPA/PIPA thing?
Kasual: “Personally, I understand from an artist’s standpoint where it’s like, you’re losing millions of dollars on your craft…but at the same time, we live in the age of information man. You know, it’s like with the way technology is, people aren’t going to these stores…and I kind of feel like you’re obligated as an artist. Here’s a perfect way to explain it. I just had somebody say to me ‘I always used to feel bad about downloading and stealing artist’s music…but I don’t feel bad anymore when I see them on MTV Cribs.’ You know what I’m saying? I’m just thankful as an artist to get people to listen for free. Because now days people have the opportunity to listen to so many different genres that they can skip by my music in a heartbeat. If a fan is a big enough fan, they’re going to purchase your stuff, they’re going to come out to your shows…you’re still going to make a living off of music. But as if you’re releasing music? It’s pretty much impossible not to find it on Youtube and stuff, so they should embrace the fact that people have taken the chance out to become fans, and they shouldn’t mind it being put out for free. That’s my opinion.”
Boxing Insider: So you feel the exposure outweighs any kind of, I guess small financial gain that may be seen?
Kasual: “I think that artists are upset. I know Kanye West did a lot as far as shutting some of these websites down that were streaming free music and he wants to get paid…but at the same time, if you’re a musician you’re going to do it anyway for the love of music, so people get ahold of your stuff. This isn’t nothing new. Before the internet took over, people were bootlegging CDs and albums and selling them for a third of the price. So this isn’t nothing new for artists as far as their music being stolen. They’re still making a living. If you watch MTV Cribs or if you see these elite artists you see that they’re not really hurting that much.
Boxing Insider: That’s a good point. I guess back to boxing, you know, everybody talks about negotiating a deal. In the same way that there’s always controversy on the business side, what are your thoughts on boxing as a fan of the sport going forward? The general thought is “oh, the best fights aren’t being made…” of course there’s the Floyd/Manny thing out there. What are your thoughts on that?
Kasual: “As a fan, I’d say that I’m a little bit disappointed in the fact that in my generation, I would like to see the best fight. For now, I think fighters are so protected now days. They don’t want to see two big fighters come into the ring unless the financial gain on that thing is just through the roof. I always say that as a fan I’m disappointed, but I’m also a business man. So I can understand the business behind that because it’s prettier to make money. It’s entertainment, but they want to get money. I can understand that. I know that Gamboa was supposed to fight Juan Manuel Lopez, and what happens was he fought Orlando Salido and they screwed up millions up millions of dollars because Juan Ma got exposed by someone that didn’t have the recognition, the name…and now there’s millions out the door. So I can understand it, you know what I mean?”
Boxing Insider: Absolutely. Now we were talking about the age of information. Do you think that it hurts both music and boxing? You know, maybe 25 years ago, we don’t know what fights would have been made. In the same way, with music we don’t really know all the independent artists around that country that could have been something that weren’t. Do you think that overall, the age of information I guess has hurt, maybe a certain love of both boxing and music?
Kasual: “It’s hurt the allure of the sport also. We kind of get up to-the-second-details of the fight breakdowns, if a fight’s being made, and if the fight’s not being made…we get the financial, we get everything now. Back then, if a fight wasn’t going to be made, we would’ve never known how close we were to a mega fight. Now, we know who’s responsible for not signing what part of the contract, or which promoter is not allowing this to happen. I think that does hurt us as fans because we have too much information on it. We know too much about the situation whereas back then, as a fan of the sport we didn’t say ‘oh my God, Ali and Frazier are gonna do it again?’ That’s fine, we didn’t know what went on in the negotiations. That aura of surprise, or the mystery makes us more of a fan, and also makes us love boxing even more. Now days, if you want to find out what a boxer’s doing, you go on Twitter and find out what he had for dinner, you know what I’m sayin?”
Boxing Insider: Hahaha, yes I do. Well thanks again for doing this interview, do you have any final thoughts for the fans out there?
Kasual: “Basically man, I want people to go check out my music video for ‘Floyd Mayweather,’ and realize that there’s a message behind the video. It’s not like me just talking about money, cars, how cool I am…I was actually like, trying to write the record through the eyes of Floyd Mayweather. In the video, you see I wake up in the morning, I’m like waking up to a Floyd Mayweather fight. I’m like, just for that day…I woke up and lived through the eyes of Floyd Mayweather. So I’m rapping as if I’m Floyd for a day. Not just me thinking I’m a rich superstar rapper. I’ve been getting a lot of conflicting things about people not really understanding the whole message behind the video. I hope people are smart enough to look at it and see what it’s actually about. That’s basically it!”
Boxing Insider’s Hans Olson can be reached at [email protected] Follow him on Twitter @hansolson