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“Suffocate” was the third single off the debut album from the next big thing of 2007, J. Holiday. With its syrupy lyrics and Tricky Stewart’s catchy groove, it peaked at Number 18 on the Billboard chart, but failed to launch J. Holiday into the stratosphere of male R&B vocalists – many of whom lacked the talent that the young upstart from DC showed on that first record (looking at you, Trey Songz)
My initial encounter with “Suffocate” came from a MySpace page, a digital relic of music-discovery that can only be passed down like a fable to Gen Z kids who’ve had access to iPads since near-infancy. Surprisingly, NYC’s hottest Zoomer Cash Cobain remembers this song too, as exemplified by his monster hit “JHOLIDAY”, which transforms an offhand lyrical phrase from “Suffocate” into an infectious hook crafted by the outright king of sample drill. The single from Cobain’s breakout mixtape 2 Slizzy 2 Sexy has launched the New York producer, rapper, and songwriter into a greater stratosphere of celebrity outside of his home city’s loving audience.
Having played across Europe and at Rolling Loud Miami and NYC, Cobain’s instantly recognizable sampling was heard throughout 2022 via Drake’s OVO Sound Radio, Frank Ocean’s Homer cock ring ad, and as I recently experienced, the speakers of a chicken spot in Fairfax. Born in the South Bronx, Cash Cobain grew up surrounded by music, with his family inadvertently exposing him to a variety of influences through the radio. His interest in production stems from childhood; Cash laughs that his mom told him his earliest beats were made with a Leappad learning toy. Cash now calls Queens his home, with his adoptive sector of the city linking him to fellow drill stars like Big Yaya (who came up with Cash’s unmistakable tag), Shawtybinladen, B-Lovee, Bandmanrill, and Chow Lee. The artists connected over the pandemic through the now-forgotten app Clubhouse, ciphering and talking shit then turning it into gold over Cash’s singularly reworked samples.
Drawn from the music of his past, sampling is the core of Cash Cobain’s workflow. Shaped by the swath of 50 Cent beats and questionable Fergie songs that defined the mid-to-late aughts, Cobain pulls these references into tracks on his full-length collaboration with Chow Lee, 2 Slizzy 2 Sexy. The album (and its subsequent deluxe release) is a manifestation of Cash’s alter ego Slizzy, an unmercifully horny, straight-shooting lothario wrapping lyrical gems within eight-bar loops of transformed snippets from forgotten hits like the aforementioned “Suffocate”. The 24-year-old’s affable demeanor belies his sudden success, and he maintains that humbleness despite the fact 2 Slizzy 2 Sexy most recently scored a nod on the New York Times’ best albums of 2022.
Our conversation touched on the roots of Cash Cobain’s musical inspiration and the joy he derives from creating music. This is his passion. As we stare down the mysteries of a new year, Cobain has his intentions already set. “I just want to make music and turn up the best way I could, make this thing blow up, make it go crazy. Have more fun.” – Staley Sharples