CASSIE knows more than a thing or two on what a good business makes. Her music, her modeling career, and her sense of style have always been bestsellers. And this year, with a secret album on the works plus a couple of big campaigns under her belt, we’re predicting an official comeback, times ten the ROI.
It was 2006 when Cassie shook MTV with her music video for “Me & U;” that’s where I first laid my eyes on her—in an empty studio. Her feline eyes are watchful of her reflection as she stretches, shows off what she can do on the dance floor, croons with her soft R&B vocals, and kisses herself on the mirror. Donning a hoodie, a bikini top, sweat pants, and some Nike sneaks, she was new in the game, a rising star at that time, and she never looked back since, eventually transitioning into a sexier outfit—leggings, high heels, and gold hardware.
Fast forward to year 2011—we’re at a studio in Brooklyn, New York. Cassie is recognizable as ever although, this time around, she shows off a more daring and fashion-forward side of herself.
Unlike every other been-there-done-that star, Cassie didn’t morph into the quintessential diva. Her little joys—“Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups, Cow Tales, and Skittles”—show that, with all the fame, she’s the same sweet-toothed girl from New London, Connecticut. She always has a smile on her face, her soft voice invites people in, and she even responds to her fans on Twitter. “I do like the convenience of sending love to the kids…supporting me and showing me love,” she says.
Having started off at 14, she remembers, “[I was] totally [a] tomboy…I started modeling early, so [dressing] up always felt like work. I used to love to wear my brother Rod’s clothes.” To this day, she still plays dress up for big campaigns like CK ONE, for which she struts her stuff—dancing and laughing in a cropped top and denim shorts—with token male models inside an empty room. She shares, “I had a blast, [it was] really [a] fun shoot. Looks as fun as it was.”
Banking on her good looks, this stunning beauty has packaged a unique product that only she could sell—herself. Recently appearing on the red carpet of the MET ball (where she wore a custom Rag & Bone—a paneled black-and-cobalt calfskin dress—with Lorraine Schwartz jewelry) and gracing the covers of magazines like Complex, VIBE, and i-D, it’s a no-brainer why Wiz Khalifa, Kanye West, and Chris Brown prefer her over tired vixens to appear in their music videos. She also joins the ranks of Mary J. Blige, Jada Pinkett Smith, and Solange Knowles as current spokesbeauty for Carol Daughter’s new tress-enhancing product. Cassie says, “I have been crazy busy, back in the studio getting my album done. Lots of new editorial shoots coming out. Really been blessed lately—feels like my time is now.”
“Everything has just evolved… I’m a whole new version of myself, and I love it, so I know the people who really love my music will, too,” says Cassie who’s finally releasing a follow up album this year. Though critics have slammed her for pushing it back too long, this good businesswoman knows, for a fact, that quality is over everything—even if it means making them wait.
She excitedly continues, “Every session is fun, actually—the producers and writers are dope. I couldn’t be happier.” Cassie specifically mentions a new track called “Bang Bang, Mr. Valentine.” She says, “It has a cool out ska vibe. Just really unexpected [from] me, and it’s the kind of new music that I’m doing that really set me creatively on fire.” But she holds off, saying, “I wanna surprise people,” that whoever’s in her album will be kept a secret for now.
Ah, yes, just another strategy, something she must have perfected overtime. Giving them a little taste, so you’ll leave people wanting more. Currently listening to Q-Tip, Mark Ronson, Frank Ocean, and Adele, Cassie is also taking a break from acting and movie roles, saying, “Focus on the music—that’s my priority now.”
So while we wait for the release of her new album, images of her in cropped tops, combat boots, cutoff shorts, XL earrings, and her “I’m here!” aura should more than suffice. Cassie explains, “[My style] is cool, fun, and me. I love Kate Moss, style-wise,” adding, “I love shopping. I love to mix it up.”
Cassie indulges us with her favorite brands and cheap thrills: “I love Balmain, Givenchy, but then, I can go crazy at Joyrich in LA or buy ten pairs of Jordans or buy all the men’s T-shirts at Zara and cut them up. It’s all about having fun and making things your own.” Mixing high-end designer brands with products that an average person can afford makes a style icon on our list.
She flat out confesses how she collects “mostly Jordans, Chucks, and some Iros—[they] feel like I have no shoes on!” We realize why lots of kids look up to her and her style: “I like to keep an effortless edge to everything I do. I think the kids get that, and that inspires them to do the same.”
It’s almost 5 in the afternoon, and the shoot is soon coming to an end. Music is still blasting from the speakers, and our photographer, Itaysha Jordan, is wrapping up with a few more shots. Cassie, although tired, is still posing like a pro.
A few years in the industry has given this girl so much: maturity, a calmness around her, and this newfound self. She’s been beating critics before, and every time, she proved them wrong and gracefully moved on to her next agenda.
She has managed to diversify her assets from being a song-and-dance sensation to, now, being a sought-after personality. This time around, she’s coming after the world, with love from her fans and an album that’s about to remind us why we loved her that first time. Expect her stock to rise, well, as if it hasn’t been always up there.
Interview and story by Loris Peña
Photographed by Itaysha Jordan
Photo Assistant: Ashanti McIntosh
Styling by Jason Rembert
Fashion Assistants: Craig Dwelling & Deandre Dacosta
Makeup by Paul Innis
Hair by Dante Blandshaw
Manicurist: Naomi Yasuda