JustMe x Cas Metah: The New ’93

Share Button

Photo courtesy of PK Long

1993 was a pivotal year in Hip-Hop. It saw the debuts of influential artists like Snoop Doggy Dogg, Digable Planets, Onyx, Fat Joe, Mobb Deep, The Roots, Black Moon, and Wu-Tang Clan. Classic albums from acts like A Tribe Called Quest, Salt-N-Pepa, Cypress Hill, and KRS-One were also released in ’93. Thirty years later Scribbling Idiots members JustMe and Cas Metah have released an album paying homage to 1993 Hip-Hop called “The New ’93.”

The New ’93 is produced by Theory Hazit, Anno Domini, Temper, Scarebeatz, HZA, 2Deep Beats, Sebastian Hochstein, Simple Cuts, and D1. The 10-track album features appearances by D1, Cappadonna, Planet Asia, Tragedy Khadafi, MotionPlus, Aztek the Barfly, Blast Mega, Mouf Warren, and Aceyalone.

The Real Hip-Hop chatted with JustMe and Cas Metah about rapping part-time, being liberal while living in red states, and their new album, The New ’93.

TRHH: Why’d you call the album The New ’93?

Cas Metah: Oh wow, right into it. It’s 30 years since 93 — it’s 2023, and the feeling of the album when we first started working on songs it just kind of had that throwback sound and vibe to it. We kind of based all the production on that type of sound — that early 90s sound. So, really kind of early on it just started formulating itself. I think the actual title came from the song lyrics of a song called “Mad World” which is one of the first songs we did, where in the chorus I say, “Welcome to the new ’93, my crew ride the beats/Like Dukes ride the streets in the General Lee.” So, I don’t know, man, it was just like one of those aha moments I guess you would say, where it just kind of popped in my head like, “that’s a dope title” and then it just kind of formulated itself from there really.

TRHH: What are some of your favorite albums or songs from 1993?

JustMe: I mean, 93 ‘til Infinity for sure, I mean that’s a no-brainer. Freestyle Fellowship’s Innercity Griots, Midnight Marauders, 36 Chambers. Those are probably my favorites off top.

Cas Metah: I’d say really everything you said and then Doggystyle. Didn’t the Alkaholiks put out something in 93? Coast II Coast maybe?

JustMe: Coast II Coast came out later. The first album might have been ’93.

Cas Metah: 21 & Over. Yeah, it was the first album. Lethal Injection.

JustMe: You know on the back cover of the album we put the covers of a whole bunch of albums from 93 on it. Straight Up Sewaside I think is on there, Intelligent Hoodlum – Tragedy.

Cas Metah: 187 He Wrote, 14 Shots to the Dome, Eazy-E. I mean what came out that wasn’t good in 93, honestly? It was just a special time I think.

JustMe: When Cas came up with the title “The New ‘93” I took it as being that it’s 30 years later, socially we’re dealing with the same issues in the United States that we were in 93. Thirty years later we’re still dealing with the same stuff, so that’s kind of how I know I tried to approach a lot of the writing and stuff.

TRHH: How have you two grown as artists since the first album in 2004?

JustMe: I mean, lyrically, stylistically, just as emcees overall, I think we both improved a bunch. I’m a little bit older than Cas, but you know when you’re younger a few years feels like a lot. So, when Cas and I first met he hadn’t been rapping quite as long as me, and I thought he was dope but the difference between 2004 and now is night and day. His pen is so much sharper and his delivery and everything has just exponentially grown over that time.

Cas Metah: I would just add that I think with any skill, any trade, whether you’re doing carpentry, or you’re a cook somewhere, or whatever you’re doing, if you put 25 years into it and you’re not better 25 years later, then I don’t know what you were doing. That was the whole goal — to always sharpen and just to get better. I remember being like a senior in high school thinking I’ve reached my peak because I was writing for three years and I’m so much better than I was when I was 15. It’s like, “Nah dude, you ain’t nowhere near the level of completion yet.”

So, once you kind of realize that when you’re like 20 something there ain’t no slowing down. I mean you look at the emcees that we came up on and they’re in their 50s now or late 40s or whatever. Some of them dudes are nicer than they’ve ever been. It just shows the work ethic and everything that we put into what we do. It’s really there, this isn’t like a stagnant pond. We’re definitely flowing like the rivers and the oceans over here. That’s the best way I could describe it, honestly.

TRHH: What was the process like for you two to record The New ’93?

JustMe: Mostly long distance. So, a lot of trading. One person would start a song and the other person would build off of what the other emcee wrote and recorded. Cas came up with most of the concepts and really sort of set the pace, and I was fortunate I got to just jump in and drop bars. That hasn’t always been the case, but on this record that was definitely the case.

Cas Metah: I mean we live like two and a half/three hours away. Back when we were a little younger during the first two JustMe and Cas Metah records, and even some of the Scribbling Idiots projects we used to, well, ain’t no we, I used to drive down to his house.

JustMe: [Laughs] Yeah.

Cas Metah: He ain’t never drove to Ohio to make no daggone music. But I used to have to drive down to Kentucky like all the time. But you get older and he was married with a kid and I was single, so it was easier to do it that way. Now I’m married and my leash is a lot tighter nowadays, son. And gas is crazy expensive, so it’s just so much easier. We both have studios at home. We literally use the same software, so it’s just so easy to just go in drop a verse, drop a hook, whatever, bounce down a MP3 real quick, send it over to Just and be like, “What do you think of this?” He’ll be like, “It’s dope,” and then like the next day he records his verse to the reference and sends it back. I’ll be like, “Send me your files!” and then I’ll put the files into the session and we got one done, and then just repeat so forth and so on.

That’s pretty much how we have to work nowadays just due to work schedules and wifeys and all that. But it works. You wouldn’t be able to tell that we did not sit in the same room together and come up with the songs. We’ve known each other so long that we don’t have to sit in the same room to be in the same mind frame. He can just listen to my lyrics or I can give him a quick description of what I’m talking about and he just knows what to do and vice versa.

JustMe: And we talked a lot throughout the whole process — pretty much every day. So, it’s not like there wasn’t any communication. Everything was well thought out still.

TRHH: The single “Part Time” is very interesting, because it’s the story of the average Hip-Hop artist, but it very rarely gets told. Have you always viewed being a part-time artist as a positive thing?

JustMe: No. When we were younger the goal was to get signed and land on a major. But as you go through the process you kind of learn, and because of the internet some of the bigger success stories that we encountered weren’t necessarily the guys that got signed to a major, but the guys that just grinded on their own. Like for instance, we’re close friends with the guys from Cunninlynguists and the album they got screwed on the most was an album that they put out on a label. We were signed to a label for a long time, but I think we’ve seen a lot of our success comes from being independent artists. And you’re right, the average Hip-Hop artist is not Jay-Z. So, that song was particularly for heads that know. We’re out here grinding and making great music and it’s just a matter of who that music gets exposed to.

Cas Metah: Hip-Hop has like this weird bubble around it where people don’t always want to tell the truth. You can turn on your radio right now and there’s a dude talking about how much money he has, but he still lives at home with his mom. We just always wanted to be truthful. If you listen to really any of our concepts you could just tell that we just aimed to tell the truth, period. No matter if you like it or not. Sometimes the truth is ugly, sometimes it’s beautiful, but I mean this is just our truth, man.

When I was younger I was kind of doing the full-time grind for a while. I had little side hustles and things, but I mean I was really, really grinding. So, it doesn’t bother me to like tell people, “Nah, I’m not full-time anymore, I’m just part-time.” It is what it is, you know? You reach a certain age and you don’t have delusions of grandeur, and you’re not trying to blow up, and you just want to make good music, and you want to support your family, and so this is what you got to do.

JustMe: I think a lot of people might be surprised to find out that some of their favorite artists have other hustles. Right off the top I think of Apathy and he’s a real estate agent. So, you got a lot of artists out there that got other grinds besides music.

TRHH: I had no idea Apathy was a real estate agent.

JustMe: And he don’t try to hide it either.

TRHH: Really?

Cas Metah: No. Just go on his Instagram. He’s pretty vocal about it. Letting it be known. I kind of did it for a while too when I was full time, it’s like a badge of honor, you want people to know that you’re a serious full-time artist. But at the end of the day, it’s not anything to be ashamed of because you go to work [laughs]. If anything, it’s something you should be proud of because you’re handling your business.

TRHH: It’s like having a job is something to be ashamed of.

Cas Metah: It’s a weird complex, but I mean that’s basically what we’re saying with “Part Time.” We can do both and be successful.

TRHH: The song “No Rights Left” touches on a lot of different things surrounding our lives in America. What inspired that song?

JustMe: I like to write with double and triple entendres. So, the many different ways that that could be construed was just something we were playing with. And we kind of live in this duality in the United States of right and left, Republican and Democrat, or Conservative and Liberal. And also, right could be the right side or the conservative side, and left could be the left side and or the liberal side, or it could be right as in right or left as in left behind.

So, that’s kind of playing on all those different meanings, and for me personally being someone that as I’ve gotten older actually found myself getting more liberal it’s for me in a way a lot of it was saying like, “read left to right ‘till there’s no rights left,” was not so much like your right to do something, but ‘till there’s no conservative thought left. If you read the history of the United States how could you be conservative? What are we conserving here? All progress is usually forced by people fighting to be liberated, and so that was my approach to it.

Cas Metah: Yeah, that was Justin’s concept. That might have been the only one Justin actually did set off. In this particular case this was just my job to kind of follow the leader. So, what he said sounds great [laughs]. I just rapped on it.

TRHH: How does being in Kentucky with those opinions affect your life or affect the people around you?

JustMe: That’s a great question. So, Kentucky is a red state and if you go back through history it’s not a state that seceded from the union, it was a slave state. It’s continued to be a racist place to live, no question. The way it affects me, I mean, I can’t lie, I live in a neighborhood where I can walk down the street and there’s people flying confederate flags. It’s not always comfortable. I also live in a neighborhood that’s actually fairly diverse. It can be uncomfortable, I can’t lie. It can be uncomfortable to encounter that on a regular basis, but also you kind of realize that people holding those views have been misled.

They’re not usually the most educated, so you could encounter someone who if that’s not brought up you would just think that’s a good person. But as soon as any sort of socio-political issue is discussed you would find that I don’t share the same views as this person. It can be difficult. With that said, Kentucky is also a very beautiful place. You drive through Kentucky, I’m sorry, it’s a beautiful place. Personally, most of my friends are African American and I’m married to a Latina woman, and I’m from Southern California, so I grew up in a lot of diversity. I could say it could be difficult, I also realize that it’s more difficult for someone who’s not a white man living in this place.

TRHH: That applies to the whole country.

JustMe: Right, absolutely it does.

TRHH: You know what I’ve learned, I’m in Chicago, you know Chicago is liberal, Illinois is conservative. At my job I have conservative friends and I always ask them why they are conservative. Either they don’t know or they have one thing that’s important to them.

JustMe: The single-issue voter.

TRHH: Yeah, like abortion. “I’m against abortion” or “I support the military.” Everybody supports the military, but that’s what they think. They think Obama cut back on military funding, so he’s bad. Okay, whatever. I find that it’s usually like one thing, they don’t know why they vote that way, or it’s passed down from their parents. It’s mind boggling to me. Just do your research, read, and listen. 

JustMe: I actually am reading a book right now, I haven’t finished it yet, so I can’t make a final verdict on it, but there’s a book I’m reading where in the title it says like, “Why Good People Are Divided By Politics and Religion.” Basically, it’s a scientific study and they basically say that emotion plays the bigger thing to reason. If you’re discussing these things with people you actually have to appeal to their emotion as much as you would appeal to reason, because people’s natural proclivity is to revert to how they feel about something, as opposed to what they know about something.

TRHH: That’s perfect. That is so true. I gotta read that. Just, on the song “Breaking Point” you call out white supremacy and say it could be the end of you. Why was it important for you to write that rhyme?

JustMe: Because not only is it uncomfortable for me to hold the political views I do because of where I live, but in my own family. I come from a very conservative family and that’s tough. I’ve had times where I’ve ended a visit with my parents yelling and walking out the house. Again, to bring it full circle with the The New ’93, 30 years later we’re still dealing with the same issues.

To be honest, we’re dealing with the same issues we’ve always dealt with. People want to say right now in the time we’re living in that we’re so divided, and the truth is we’ve always been divided. There’s never been a comfortable time where everyone just got along and found a nice center point in the United States. No time has existed. So, Make America Great Again, when was that?

Cas Metah: There’s just more cameras now. We’re just documenting everything to a finer detail with everyone having an iPhone in their pocket. Remember the police brutality when it was just like that’s all you saw there for a while and it was like, “Oh my God!” Nah, dude, this has been here. It’s never not been here pretty much, you just didn’t always have an iPhone in your pocket to film it.

TRHH: Who is The New ’93 album made for?

Cas Metah: Hip-Hop heads, in my opinion. I mean, it’s made for anybody who enjoys good music, but I mean you really gotta be delusional if you think like an 18-year old kid who listens to Lil whoever is going to like it. I mean, probably not. It’s for people our age more than likely. People who were actually listening to music in ‘93 or relatively a little bit later than that might be fine, too.

It’s just made for people who like good Hip-Hop with substance, creativity, like he said with the double entendres. You got to be a fan of the bars. It’s not just about the production side of it. Stylistically you gotta like multi-syllabic rhyme structure. That’s gotta be your thing. If that’s your thing, then I think you’re gonna really dig this record.

JustMe: I don’t think that we made the album with a particular audience in mind, but you know, we make music that we like. So, if you’re a Hip-Hop head, if you like boom bap and bars, then I think you’ll like the album.

Cas Metah: Simple.

Purchase: JustMe & Cas Metah – The New ’93

Share Button

About Sherron Shabazz

Sherron Shabazz is a freelance writer with an intense passion for Hip-Hop culture. Sherron is your quintessential Hip-Hop snob, seeking to advance the future of the culture while fondly remembering its past.
This entry was posted in interview and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.