Despite being from the Twin Cities, I never realized there were any famous or decent rappers from the region. Suddenly, I heard of Prof in 2016. Stumbling upon his song “Bar Breaker” by accident, I began to look into both Prof and the Twin Cities rap scene as a whole.
Unfortunately, the area is severely lacking in talent to match other rap hubs such as Atlanta, New York, Houston, or LA. Prof holds his own most of the time, but his fellow Twin Cities native and de facto protege, Cashinova, fails to bring anything interesting to the table on his new album Big Dragon.
Cashinova is an artist from St. Paul, Minnesota, and recently released his first studio album: Big Dragon. Done with support from Prof as well as a feature from him, the album marks his first real foray into solo music territory. Cashinova is perhaps most well known for his feature on “No” from Prof’s last album Pookie Baby, a song that has millions of views and streams on Youtube and Spotify.
Big Dragon fails to be creative or unique in any facet of Cashinova’s music, from the poor mixing, the shoddy production, or the lyrics that range from barely competent to abysmal. Needless to say, it’s not the first impression he wanted to make on the local crowd.
Cashinova’s lyrics are an obvious weak spot when compared to Prof. Despite having a unique Cambodian background to work off of for lyrics, he instead chooses to only talk about three main things: weed, girls, and money. Some bars are laughably horrible, such as “Big booty bounce it on my face, yeah” on “Catch the Wave” or “My s*** is stupid retarded” on “Ain’t the Same”. In addition, the autotune he feels compelled to use for some God-forsaken reason on “Skyscrapers” is some of the worst sounding music I’ve heard in awhile.
Besides the obviously forced content, the production and mixing are very low quality, even for a small time artist. I’ve seen local Inver Grove Heights rappers from my high school have better content, production, and mixing than Cashinova on Big Dragon. If you have to constantly change your equalizer to adjust for crappy bass and tinny drums, you’re listening to garbage mixing. The production reminds me of basic level loops found for free online that I used to create beats with in my spare time. Essentially, Cashinova spent all his money elsewhere and skimmed on everything that makes his kind of lyricism acceptable.
While it’s disappointing how bad Big Dragon is, it’s confusing that it ended up this way considering how good his mentor’s last album, Prof’s Pookie Baby, was. Prof had high energy, unique and clever production, funny and interesting lyrics that used the same themes as Cashinova, but at a much higher skill level. Prof was creative and interesting, whereas Cashinova was dull and bland.
Songs such as “Andre the Giant” and “No” are entertaining with their strange hooks and alternative beats, combined with Prof’s classic humor. The music videos for both songs are also top notch and add on to both songs’ odd nature. He knows how to make quality music, something I wish he could teach Cashinova how to do himself. Even more mind boggling is that Cashinova’s feature on “No” is ten times better than anything he did on Big Dragon, showing that he is in fact capable of doing better.
Minneapolis is in desperate need of more hip hop talent to compete with other cities and represent the 612. But with faces like Cashinova being touted as the future, Minneapolis and the Twin Cities will be waiting quite some time for another Atmosphere or Prof. Don’t waste your time with Big Dragon. Just go and listen to Pookie Baby again if you really want a taste of Minnesota.