Cane is the Name: Meet The Rap Game’s New Don Draper

EDL exclusive interview

Cane is the Name will out dress you.. and then continue to style on you and out rap you. Co-signed by Statik Selektah, the VA native is something like “Don Draper reincarnated as a rhyme sayer.”

From receiving a notable XXL feature to collaborating with the likes of Talib Kweli, CJ Fly, Termanology, and others, Cane has proved that he is just as accomplished as he is confident. The athlete turned emcee is fresh off a serious dub with his Southpaw Battle Coalition debut (peep it below) and is the embodiment of where style meets substance. I got the opportunity to chop it up with him not too long ago. See below for the dialogue to our recent conversation:

“They who dream by day are cognizant of many things which escape those who dream only by night…” -Edgar Allan Poe

Take me into the thought process behind making The Dark Hours and Illuminate companion pieces (albeit released non sequentially). 

I wanted to make two different feelings, and I wanted them each to be their own project, but when you put them together it makes a whole body of work.  You have “Illuminate” which is the feel good vibe music, and then you have “The Dark Hours” which is a somber, dark, and more conscious project. Just like everything in life you can’t have the light (or good) without the dark (or bad) and vice versa. 
I also wanted to step away from the usual 15-18 track mixtape/album format, so instead I did these two separate EPs and released the 2nd half first, like how a Tarintino film will sometimes start with the ending scene.

Cane knows Football. Cane knows Hip-Hop.

You were a college athlete. Tell me about that. How did that balance with Hip-Hop, in terms of priorities? Were your teammates and coaches supportive? Etc.

Football definitely was the first priority because that’s essentially how I got to college.  They were paying for my education.  Plus, football was my first love and I wanted to take it as far as I could before I started focusing on music.  However, doing music then really molded me into the artist I am now.  My teammates were my main collaborators. We had a little crew and were all in it together, since we recorded and did shows together, sold mixtapes, and all started working on getting my music out there. 
My coaches were always cool about it. At first, I tried to hide it from them. I guess I didn’t want them busting my chops, but they never really did.  I’m sure they saw that my teammates respected me as a rapper, so that probably helped my case in that regard. Otherwise I would have been perceived as the goofy white TE that thought he was down or some shit.…like Travis Kelce or something..haha…nah he’s nice tho, let me stop.

In that same vein, do you think any of the professional athletes that moonlight as emcees are “nice”? I find them to be “dumpster juice”. Damian Lillard, for one, isn’t AWFUL.. but isn’t “nice” either.. what are your thoughts on that?

Ha…Damian Lillard is aight. I respect him, but Shaq has gotta be the best athlete on the mic.  Shaq Diesel bro! He had Phife and Fu-Schnickens on his shit. Come on now!! When I was younger, I had this CD with all these NFL players rapping on it. All I remember was Ricky Waters had this joint with Method Man that was craaaazzy! Not many athletes have been successful in the rap game, but I would have been the first if I was an inch taller and a little faster.

“The Future influences the present just as much as the past..” -Friedrich Nietzsche

Name five albums that influenced you the most and why:

Fugees – The Score 
This felt like my introduction to hip hop. I dove into this album, and didn’t look back. I can still probably spit every bar of every song. Yes, even Pras verses.  Plus this joint was just so versatile, the three different styles, and voices, and musically it was all over the place. 
Nas – It Was Written 
Lyricism!  The stories, and the song writing blew my mind. He painted vivid pictures on this, and it made me want to try to do it too. 
Bone Thugs N Harmony – E. 1999 Eternal
The flow! The double time or chop flow and the clarity of it all! And then the ability to implement melodies and singing along with it! It was a mind blowing ear-gasm (pause). This record was beautiful and there will never be another Bone Thugs N Harmony.
Again, they made me want to try that style. That started by just scribing their lyrics. Half the time I didn’t know what they were saying, so I just wrote out what it phonetically sounded like, which allowed me to understand my way around the beat, and how different flows worked.
Big Pun – Capital Punishment
My brother and I rode about 5 miles on our bikes to go cop this at Wal Mart. We were pissed that it was the clean version, but Wally World was the closest store.  Pun was so captivating because he was as lyrical as Nas, but could flow like Bone Thugs.
Outkast – ATLiens
It was a new sound that was incredible to me, and he production, the content, Big Boi’s swag, Andre’s lyrics, the cover art: Everything was A1. They weren’t scared to push boundaries within the culture, and that was inspiring to me.

Tell me about your origins in Hip-Hop. Who caught your ear first and who/what compelled you to rhyme? 

Nas – “If i Ruled the World” was probably the song that made me really want to rap, that and Wu-Tang’s “Triumph.” I come from a family of artists, so music and art were always around me. I started writing creatively at a young age, and rap just naturally became my creative outlet. Eventually, I became obsessed with it, scribing the lyrics of my favorite songs and verses, and keeping them in a notebook. That evolved into me trying to record them myself, which then evolved into me trying to write my own lyrics…I still have those notebooks and uh…yeah…We all start somewhere right? 

Watch The (Iron) Throne

We’ve all heard Jay-Z & Kanye’s ‘Watch The Throne’, at least I’d hope so if we’re claiming Hip-Hop.. Who would your dream collaborative album feature? 

Cane & Yasiin Bey

Speaking of thrones, you’re a Game of Thrones fan like most of us with blood lust, a pulse, and any kind of sophistication or sense. How do you think this is all gonna shake out? And will the author die before the rest of his characters?

Ay look man! He BETTER not die, but this is how it all goes down: 
Khaleesi squads up and sets sail in her new fleet of ships thanks to Theon’s sister who laced the mother of dragons something lovely. And you crazy if you think she just giving out free ships and not expecting anything in return, so there will be some girl on girl action there.  Khaleesi takes the throne but not before a brief beef with the King of the North, which then leads to them knocking boots, and falling for each other.  Dream Team formed. game, set, match. Tyrion, Khallesi, and Jon Snow?! Come on son!  Cersei gets what she has coming to her, after the new super friends alliance somehow take down “the mountain”.  Jaimie also gets taken out after fighting in the name of incest. The good guys ride off in the sunset on their dragons! End scene.

To piggy or “Hodor back” (I’m trying it out) off that, which GOT character is most like Cane? I took a quiz on the book and I got Rob Stark.. so I’m a little bummed about where I stand or no longer stand in all of this. 

“Hodor back”…Im stealing that….Cane is Jon Snow…all day because he’s a fighter, a leader, and he’s ethical but not to a fault like other Starks. Try to kill me off. I got b*tches waiting to revive the kid. I’m too dope to die….Can’t leave the throne alone, the game needs me!

Don’t get gassed and sh*t, but I think you’re more than capable bar for bar.. the flow is wet, the schemes are intricate, the content varies, the delivery is strong, and the charisma is definitely in tact. You can kill it in a “Golden-Era” type of cypher, but also maintain a contemporary and commercial sensibility (as we saw with “Aroma”). Did you consciously work on all of these aspects of your game, analogous to sports?

Thank you sir. I would agree with that. Haha…but yeah I think I naturally worked on every aspect of being a complete artist without even doing it intentionally. I just became obsessed with every aspect of rap, and studied it. You study the things you love, but it makes sense when you look at those 5 albums that had the most impact on me because they all brought something different to the table, and I studied all of that.  I do think that my work ethic has a lot to do with my progression though, and that can be attributed to football.  So yeah, I think football engrained that work ethic and the importance of the grind, and the tireless hours of practice. I naturally use that approach with everything that I take seriously, and i take rap very seriously. 

Do you have an archetype you chase that you believe to be the consummate emcee? 

The consummate emcee to me is a Biggie or Jay-Z because everything is there. It’s the total package: rhymes, quotables, flow, content, personality, witty, relatable, and they can thrive in any lane. Whether it’s commercial or underground; cypher, battle, or live show. They can do all of that.
I am mindful of all of implementing all of these qualities that make a complete emcee, and if I don’t achieve every one of them on a particular song then I at least want to make sure the song serves its purpose.  There is always an intention with my art.

Name five dream matchups in terms of battling. Preferably mix it up with known battlers vs. industry cats and industry cats vs. industry cats. 

Eminem vs. Daylyt 
Black Thought vs. Loaded Lux
Lupe Fiasco vs. Yasiin Bey
Kendrick Lamar vs. J Cole
Murda Mook vs. Jay Z

Moving the Movement?

Everybody and their mother is moving to Cali, ATL, or NY. It reminds me of the Gold Rush and then the subsequent Fool’s Gold. I’m from NY, but since settling in the DMV, I think this is where I’m at going forward. What’s your stance on this? Do you think it’s worthwhile to up and move to an “industry hotbed” or do you think that’s overplayed? 

I do think it has its benefits being in one of those hotbeds, and the saying “you have to leave your city to get love” can be a sad reality (having experienced this through my travels).  Not to say the DMV hasn’t held me down, but at times I get more love in other areas. But to be real, I’m not chasing anything. I’m going to continue working hard, and making dope content, and if that brings me all over the world then I’m going where the opportunities are.  Good music doesn’t have an address. If its dope it’s dope. And being dope and making shit I’m proud of is all that matters to me now.

What does Cane have coming soon and where will he be in 5 years? 10 years?

More music, more shows, more money, more hoes… In 5 years I’m where I want to be, and in 10 years I’m where I want to be with a couple kids, and a wife.

There you have it folks. Stay tuned into Cane’s next moves via caneisthename.comThis was an EverydayDopeLife exclusive. I hope you guys learned some cool sh*t about an emcee putting in that work today. Maybe it’ll inspire someone.. PEACE.


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