Tattoo collectors are visionaries.
They see the world through a different lens and are chomping at the bit to ornament their bodies with their innermost thoughts. Others may not understand this way of life, however, according to rapper Caskey, it’s not for them to get. “I’ve always pictured myself looking like this,” says Caskey of his head tattoos. “I held out on doing it for other people who told me it would be a bad look or who said, ‘You’re going to miss out on opportunities if you tattoo yourself too much.’ I’ve had this idea for five years, I finally did it, and now I feel like the most is happening for my career that’s ever happened. I’m being who I’ve always wanted to be.”
Caskey may be a familiar face in hip-hop, but that face has changed drastically in the last few months. He’s no longer the freshly signed young gun with the baby face and baby blues, he’s a seasoned performer with a face tattoo that’s causing jaws to drop. “I saw this movie ‘Apocalypto,’ and in that movie there’s a warrior ruler who wears a detached animal jaw around his chin,” he says. “I thought that was the coolest thing ever and it would be cool to have jaws on my head that made it look like this entity is eating me.”
Caskey’s latest tattoo is undeniably his favorite piece in his extensive collection. Not only does it completely change his look and transform him into a hip-hop warrior, the piece was designed and executed by Caskey’s own flesh and blood—his brother Ryan K. Severe. “We’ve been working on this tattoo for years,” he says. “He’d drawn, like, 10 versions of it and then in the last six months I was like, ‘Dude, I have a really good idea for it.’ He sat down for a week and worked on the jaw tattoo until we finally solidified it. Most of the time, I get an idea, he draws it, and we’re lit.
“I plan to continue the tattoo onto the back of my head and then I have some room on my legs and butt cheeks—but that’s it,” he continues. “My plan is to finish my bodysuit with my brother and rock it for a few years. After that, I want to black out my tattoos and do a white bodysuit over top of that. There’s no point in my life where I’ll ever want to stop getting tattooed.”
Caskey is busier than he’s ever been and is on the precipice of releasing one of his biggest projects to date. “My next release is a collaborative album, ‘Black Sheep,’ with Yelawolf,” he says. “I’ve been a fan of Wolf for a long time and I’ve been trying to work to where I could meet him on an artistic level. I’ve always respected him lyrically and as a rockstar, he’s not caught up in the industry. He’s a true artist and he cares about the music more than anything.”
The two rappers first came together for the remix of Caskey’s single “McQueen Fiend,” forming a bond so strong they decided to make an album together. Shortly thereafter Caskey flew to Nashville to record. “I don’t think I’ve ever had an easier or more inspiring collaborative process working on an album with another artist,” he says. “I came to Nashville with all of the beats already picked out for the album and it was just magic right off the rip. We didn’t have a day that whole week where we didn’t make music—it was really effortless.”
This project has wound up being one of many firsts for Caskey, as he not only collaborated with another artist for each track but he also used the album to show fans his lighter side.“One of the songs from the album is called ‘Been A Problem’ and we made a ’70s themed video,” he says. “It’s really humorous and neither me or Wolf ever do funny videos that show off our personalities in real life. I’m glad it’s the first record we’ve dropped because it’s really a statement about how we’ve been out-rapping everybody for a long time.”
“Been A Problem” is one of the many songs Caskey is vibing with on the album—each of the 11 tracks tells a different story. “I’m most excited about ‘Just the Intro,’” he says. “I don’t feel like there’s been a rap song this exciting since ‘Rap God.’ It’s four minutes of me and Wolf spazzing. I also really like our song ‘Daytona,’ which is an ode to a city in Florida that I grew up near. We have a feature with DJ Paul on a song called ‘Open,’ which I’m stoked about because Three Six Mafia was the first rap group I listened to, so that’s a big moment for me.”
Working with Yelawolf on “Black Sheep” inspired Caskey to go back to a part of music-making he’d left by the wayside. “With this album, I got away from experimenting with singing and autotune,” he says. “This project was my way of getting back into rapping and specifically getting back into writing. I haven’t written any of my own music in years and Wolf writes his own stuff. He inspired me to care about each line and that was really refreshing.
“I’m looking forward to fans of Wolf getting acquainted with me as a high-level rapper,” he continues. “I feel like I can stand in the paint with any rapper in the world. If you’re a fan of Wolf or a fan of me, there’s no way you can listen to this album and not respect us as lyricists in the highest capacity. Kendrick Lamar or Eminem could listen to this album and say, ‘Damn, those motherfuckers can rap.’”
The experience working with Yelawolf inspired Caskey to change his entire approach to making music. Prior to their collaboration, he’d been releasing an EP every six months like most other rappers in the industry. Now he’s shifted his productivity into high gear and is prepared to flood the system.
“I’m working on a big project that I’ll be dropping at the end of the year, but I’m an artist that records constantly,” Caskey says. “I’m working on six albums simultaneously and every time I’m in the studio I put songs into categories. I keep my year planned really loosely because even though I have these albums, I don’t necessarily have an order for when they’re going to drop. But at some point in the process I’ll be inspired by whichever one is gaining more momentum than the others and then it will be time to move on.”
Caskey’s new workload means he’s writing music almost every single day, with the remaining time going to shooting videos, sending merchandise out or doing a photoshoot. He’s able to keep up the hustle because he’s truly obsessed with making music. “I used to be lazy,” he says. “When I was younger, I was really passionate about making music and would write and record a lot. As I got older, it became my career and I kind of took it for granted. I didn’t go as hard because I thought that everything would come to me. As I’ve grown up, I’ve realized what a rare opportunity I have and that hard work is going to beat everything. I used to think I was the most talented rapper and now I think I’m the hardest working rapper—you’ve got a different kind of pride in that.”
Although 2021 has only just begun, Caskey has set himself up for some serious success. A collaborative album with Yelawolf? Check. Six solo projects on the way? Check. A seriously killer head tattoo? Big check. Caskey’s time is now, get ready to watch him take over.