IN DEPTH: Cassie Rytz
“In terms of what inspires me, it’s the drive to keep going. It’s knowing I can be successful from this.” Speaking to Cassie Rytz in a busy park close to the Barbican, I’m constantly having to remind myself that the rapper/singer is 18 years old.
There’s a wisdom to Cassie that transcends her years. Having recently starred in BBC 3’s Galdem Sugar series showcasing women in grime alongside the likes of Laughta and C Cane, and with many of her sets having gone viral, she’s only set to grow.
Talking about what inspires her, Cassie cites the dancehall artist, Spice, as one of her biggest influences. “I watch a lot of Spice’s interviews. She’s been through a lot in her life but she always used this as an opportunity to keep pushing. When her house burnt down, she had nothing but her school clothes on her at the time. She knew she had to make it. Nobody was gonna do it for her. I relate to her in a sense because I knew, from a young age, I’d have to fend for myself. I didn’t want to end up in the same cycles as those I saw around me. I wanted to do something great.”
It’s this drive that has pushed Cassie to appear on sets such as Girls of Grime, with the likes of Lady Shocker, Ny Ny, Pre Wavy, Miz, and other grime trailblazers. When it comes to women in grime, she cites Lady Leshurr as one of the key figures who has made an impact on her. “I have a skippy flow and she has a skippy flow. But. the way she does it is effortless. She seems pretty sweet but she’s venomous when she’s spitting and going for it.” Alongside Leshurr, she names Chip and Big Zuu as her musical influences.
For those who haven’t listened to Cassie, she seamlessly blends grime, bashment and afroswing. Interchanging between patois and her London accent, she creates an entirely unique sound.
Not only is Cassie musically talented, she shows a sensitive side not often seen in the grime scene. She speaks openly about anxiety, navigating adulthood and is politically and socially sound when it comes to the topic of young people. “Because I’m young, everything is fresh in my mind about how things were [in my teenage years]. I feel for the youth ‘cos sometimes you don’t know why some of them are doing what they do. A lot of young people are just trying to make ends meet.”
We discuss the closures of youth clubs and the impact this has had on the lives of young people. “I feel like when I was 12, there were more youth clubs. Now, there’s not really any. That’s why there are kids on road, not knowing what to do after school. Before I knew about youth clubs, me and my friends just chilled on road. You don’t know what might happen. Youth clubs, you’d just play until 8 o’clock at night and go home. I want to speak on helping the youth. The fact that broken homes affect a child’s mental health. There’s crime surrounding a lot of youth and there aren’t any options available, so it’s the thing where young people resort to either music or selling drugs.”
These themes play into Cassie’s lyrics, and her latest EP, Starts Here, is an amalgamation of these experiences coupled with her influences.“I knew I was trying to get across something where I was trying to let people know I’ve been through bad times. I want everyone to relate, whatever situation they’re going through, you can’t let it get to you. Whilst I was explaining my problems, I was also talking about how you get over it.”
Cassie’s favourite track from the EP is titled Cobra and is every bit as venomous as it sounds. It follows the story, based on her own experiences, of dealing with an unnamed person in the industry who attempted to bully, cajole and undermine her. Rather than retaliate, Cassie decided to vocalise her feelings instead. With its ice-cold lyricism, it’s the ultimate revenge song.
Throwback goes back to Cassie’s early teenage years, following her navigating between 13. It has a nostalgic feel to it and a heartfelt tone. A happy, upbeat song, Cassie describes the song as “a book of memories” and the song that means the most for her on the EP.
Having recently made her festival debut at The Splash! Festival in Germany alongside Skepta, Gunna and Yxng Bane and with big things on the horizon, one thing is clear: Cassie Rytz is going places.
Listen to the Starts Here EP here!
Words: Mireille Harper
Photography: Ellie Ramsden
Styling: Melissa Harper