Cassie: Breaking Bad


Writer: Adelle Platon | Photographer: Jared Ryder | Designer: Arnold Steiner

Check out all the photos of CASSIE’S FULL COVER SHOOT HERE.

There’s never been a better time to be bad than now. While Michael Jackson’s leather-jacketed, graffiti-sprayed interpretation of the term in the late ’80s spawned two decades of makeshift Halloween ensembles, the essence of being a rebel with a cause has never been more contagious than during the age of the Rihannas and Walter Whites.

When MJ played the delinquent in “Bad,” Casandra Ventura was only a year old, nestled in a nurturing household and tight-knit family. The model/ singer, who would go on to be known as Cassie, was raised in the suburbs of New London, Connecticut, by a Filipino father (a firefighter) and an African-American/Mexican mother (a law firm associate), who have remained together for more than three decades, a rarity in this Scandalous age. A product of a private school education, Cassie admits she was far from a Mean Girl. “I always wished I was cool and could’ve been a troublemaker,” she says via phone, “but I was actually a pretty decent kid.”

‘Decent’ is a relative term given the fact that the picture-perfect, ebony-haired chanteuse began striking poses for the likes of clothing store Delia’s (think pre-teen Forever 21) and Seventeen magazine at the age of 12. It wasn’t until a photo shoot four years later that finally felt like a member of the Bad Girls Club.

“I did Cosmo Girl and they do a beauty issue every year and I was [shooting] for skin. It was a little bit risqué for 16,” she recalls. “I had my little boy shorts on and I was covered up, kneeling down. That came out and people saw it, even my parents were shocked to finally see what I had grown into. That was kind of a pivotal moment.”

By 2005, she signed with rapping producer Ryan Leslie’s Next Selection Entertainment, crafting her breakout record “Me & U,” a one-way ticket to rapping producer/now-boyfriend Diddy’s Bad Boy Records. Headlines penned her fictional diary with a rumored love triangle between her, Puff and R. Les, multiple pregnancies, boob job and—worst of all—lack of talent, especially following a less-than-stellar performance on BET’s 106 & Park. But the bad press was still good press as her 2006 self-titled debut cracked the top five upon release on the Ashanti- and Ciara-crowded Billboard charts. Cassie sat comfortably in the top 20 for two weeks, going on to sell 321,000 copies in the U.S.

Then the seven-year musical sabbatical happened. While the songstress-in-search-of-a-sound pushed out singles like 2008’s “Official Girl” featuring Lil Wayne and the Diddy-assisted “Must Be Love” in 2009, Cassie’s career was beginning to stack more lukewarm comebacks than Ma$e.

And then she cut her hair.

“Sometimes in life, you need a change … Something deeper than what you thought you were capable of,” she wrote on a three-year-old Twitter in April 2009. “Something that displays the ‘I don’t give a f—‘ attitude that was always present, but never showcased, something that will shock your mother, but make her call you a ROCK STAR.”

There in her balding glory was a half-shaven head that would soon be jocked by musicians from Miley Cyrus to dance music DJ Skrillex. While the hit record was still missing, Cassie’s new image would go on to rival that of a notable Bajan hell-raiser and produce the successful New Jack City-inspired RockaByeBaby mixtape three years later, but ultimately mark the second coming of a good girl gone bad… for the better.

VIBE Vixen: There’s a level of confidence that’s so evident in the way you present yourself these days. You aren’t hesitant to talk that shit on RockaByeBaby. What caused the transformation?
Most of the things that have happened to me have been very organic. The first thing that I actually put out was the “All Gold, All Girls (Remix)” with Trina and Lola Monroe. That was where the sound kind of started. The first song I recorded for the actual mixtape was “Numb” and then I added Rick Ross to it. It was a vibe that I was creating and the story came to be from the attitude of the songs. Like you said, I was talking a lot of shit. I was really putting myself out there but I love the fact that I finally got the chance to do something with the attitude that I have. You hold back to a certain extent when everybody is saying, “This needs to go to a chart and that’s the only way it can be successful.” But no, you can be successful by making music that people love. We got over 2 million downloads on this mixtape that I never ever imagined at all.

Check out all the photos of CASSIE’S FULL COVER SHOOT HERE.