Cardan: A Different World

“I’m the hottest thing out of Harlem,” says Cardan. The artist who has never released an album may be confusing some with that statement. After all, Cardan’s biggest buzz came from Harlem World in 1998, despite not being on the singles or in the videos. Still, the Uptown rapper has survived not only from feature […]

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“I’m the hottest thing out of Harlem,” says Cardan. The artist who has never released an album may be confusing some with that statement. After all, Cardan’s biggest buzz came from Harlem World in 1998, despite not being on the singles or in the videos. Still, the Uptown rapper has survived not only from feature appearances, but from penning hits for a number of notable rap artists.

After an eight year wait, Cardan may have his chance. This month, he’ll release his “Free Agent Million Dollar Baby” mixtape to entice some of the majors he’s reportedly been meeting with. The effort features familiar faces from the Diplomats, Bad Boy, and the Roc. Cardan unabashedly reveals his writing credits, speaks on Harlem World, or gives his two cents on what New York needs right now. If Cardan is the hottest thing out of Harlem, it’s no longer going to be a ghost statement. You’ve been ghostwriting while some people thought you had disappeared. How long have you been doing that?

Cardan: I’ve been ghostwriting for about six, seven years. How did you get into it?

Cardan: I got into it through Nelly. It was a coincidence that it just so happened for me. I just was helping Nelly, and he gave me the opportunity for me to make some money for myself. He didn’t need me to do anything but you know, I was just led through a mutual friend and Nelly was like, “Yo, I’ll give you the opportunity to make some dough.” He had some songs or whatever, and that’s how it started and word got out after that and I just was getting calls and calls. People were like, “Yo I need you over here and over here.” I got a publishing deal after that on EMI publishing. Does that mean you own your publishing?

Cardan: I co-own it with EMI. Speaking of ghostwriting, in edition to Nelly, you’ve also written for Bow Wow, Lil’ Kim, Diddy. What are some of the songs you’ve written that people may be familiar with?

Cardan: I did some stuff for Bow Wow’s album. It’s just album fillers; it wasn’t a single or nothing. I did something for Lil’ Kim it was the same thing, it was an album filler. I forgot the titles of the songs. I just did the new Diddy and Mary single. It’s a new Diddy single about to come out, featuring Mary, produced by Rich Harrison. I did the “Whisper Remix” for Free on the Yin Yang Twins CD. Hmmm…so you wrote for Free?

Cardan: I don’t really like telling people that, ‘cause she a girl and I want people to feel her because she’s a female…whatever that means. What’s it like when you hear your stuff on the radio? Are you at liberty to talk about it?

Cardan: For some artists, not at all but with Nelly, I can’t really go into the details. Those that know, they know because me and Nelly are friends. And Nelly overall, doesn’t need me for s**t. Nelly is super, super talented. I got a lot of respect and love for Nelly. I’m a big fan of Nelly’s music as well. But with everybody else I could talk about it. It’s all good; they don’t trip out like that. You haven’t officially released an LP yet, right?

Cardan: No, I haven’t. I’ve been featured though. I was featured on Jim Jones’ last album, I was featured on Murphy Lee’s last album, I’ve been feature on the St. Lunatics’ album, and I did some stuff for Nick Cannon too. I be so confused with it — who I did songs for and what songs I’m on…it’s crazy. But I’ve been featured lately for the last couple of years. I haven’t put my own full album out though. So, what’s up with the album situation? You’re about to put out a mixtape, but aren’t you also working on a record deal?

Cardan: Yeah, I’m working on my record deal as well. Actually, I’ve been talking to Puff about something. He wants to do something with me. I’m just walking out the Universal building [where I was] talking to Eric Nixon; he wants to do something with me. I’m trying to see who has the best offers and who’s gonna be behind the project because I just don’t want to take their money an they just don’t be behind it. I’m looking for the right support and team to get behind me. What’s it like trying to get a label deal especially now, when everybody is trying to have a southern sounding formula when you don’t have that sound? Has it been difficult?

Cardan: You know the South is running the music as of now, so it has been difficult. They don’t really want to sign New York acts unless you’re all over the radio and have like a hundred spins. But a few people are considering. You get a few people here and there that want to work with you and see what you got and how far you can take it. And now back to your mixtape, when is it expected to drop?

Cardan: That should drop July 25. I’m getting everything ready now. It’s gonna to be crazy hot. What’s it called and where can people find it?

Cardan: It’s called Free Agent Million Dollar Baby Mixtape. It will be underground. It will be all through Harlem in the little huts, you know the little bootleg huts and mom-and-pop shops. It’s gonna be hot. I got Juelz Santana, Jim Jones, Peedie Crack, Lil’ Cease…I got DL Gunz from Philly, I got Akon, Puffy, so it’s gonna be pretty dope. You and Mase had a falling out resulting in you leaving the Harlem World crew. But just for clarification, are you and Mase are cool now?

Cardan: Yeah, me and Mase are cool. Mase will be on the mixtape too. Who else are you still in touch with, if anybody, from the group?

Cardan: Mase…I speak to Loon, I speak to Huddy, Blinky Blink. We’re all still friends. So you know, we see each other. But yeah I had to leave. Me and Mase had that fallin’ out. He took me off the Harlem World single “I Like it.” He took me out the video and all that. So I was a little bitter from that, but me and Mase are cool now. Mase actually put me on to the game – to music. He picked me out of a thousand rappers in Harlem. He felt I had to talent to be successful. So I got a lot of respect for Mase for doing that for me. Once you get to the point where you do put out an LP, there’s going to be a lot of pressure on you considering that you’re from Harlem more specifically, New York. Do you think you can handle that?

Cardan: Of course. I’m so ready for it. I equipped with all the talent in the world to be number one. So, I’m ready for it, it’s nothing to me. When you got a gift, you gotta use it and let the world see. I’m ready for it. I don’t fear anything. What do you think it takes to revive New York on the Hip-Hop scene?

Cardan: I think you just gotta be original, we have to stay New York you know? We can’t drift off into the southern sound. I like the southern sound; I’m a fan of all music. I like Sheryl Crow, I like everybody… but New York…we just gotta stay New York. We also gotta mess with each other. Everybody in the South is so family-oriented with each other. If Cee-lo shoots in New York City, you’re gonna see Jazzy Pha there, you’re gonna you gonna see Big Boi from Outkast…you know what I mean? They’re like family with each other they’re not beefing and that’s the thing with New York. If we can stop beefing with each other and get down with each other and become one as a unit, a New York unit, then we’ll be good. If you had to choose between writing and being out there as a rapper, which would you choose?

Cardan: I’d definitely be out there as a rapper. It’s the performing. I can write a song for you all day. I can’t perform it though. I can’t showcase the talent for myself. I can showcase it by writing it but then I give it to you and you perform it and showcase your own talent. That’s the difference. It’s like there’s something holding you back. A majority of the time when I write for people, they don’t meet the standards of how I originally lay the song down so they take away from it. But I would love to just perform it and get out my dream instead of making a lot of other people’s dreams come true. I can’t complain though because it pays the bills and it keeps the lights on for me, but my time will come. I’m definitely trying to put Harlem back on the map. I’m the hottest thing out of Harlem.