A couple of years ago, Casey Schumacher's momentum was gaining. The 22-year-old, also known as Case Windu, released albums The Munchies and Best Case Scenario and toured with Curren$y.
After graduating from Full Sail University in Orlando and dropping Acquired Taste in February 2012, Windu's presence seemed to have diminished, releasing no new material since then and performing at local clubs like Speakeasy Lounge and Green Room only on occasion.
"Aside from getting my work done with school, that and music were all I had to worry about," said Windu. "I'm not in a position right now where I'm able to create as much as I'd like to, and it drives me nuts, man. It really sucks."
Windu also was not in a position to relinquish something else that controlled his actions and the artist and man he was becoming.
"Around the time Acquired Taste came out, substance abuse really became a problem for me," said Windu. "I had cleaned up for a few months, and then I relapsed bad. During the course of a week, I was back to using as much as I had been." Windu began using drugs recreationally when he was 17 and started to abuse when he was 18.
"You have a quick fix at your disposal," said Windu. "You get upset, you get sad, you get stressed the fuck out and you don't know how you're going to function. You pop a pill, you do whatever, and you're good."
Over the past four years, the rapper has battled to stay sober and says he has been clean since June of last year to get back to a better way of life.
"I just couldn't really keep up with the lifestyle, man," said Windu. "It got a hold of me, and it consumed me to the point where I just didn't know who I was."
The same view is supported on the first track off Acquired Taste, where Windu admits to becoming someone he was not, another rapper bragging about materialistic items he did not own. It's because of this false bravado he projected in his material that Windu is unable to listen to the majority of his past material, even Acquired Taste.
"I really can't listen to anything off of the Munchies LP or Best Case Scenario at all," said Windu. "Maybe one or two joints off Best Case Scenario. There's maybe three of four joints off Acquired Taste that I have any sort of pride in."
Windu said the material felt forced and not organic. Maybe because he's actually a whimsical individual who appreciates a good tie. A guy comfortable enough to wear short shorts and a button-up on stage, like he did at the final Green Room hip-hop weekly, Brown Bag Wednesday.
"I look goofy as fuck," said Windu. "I don't look like every other motherfucker that's particularly at places like Speakeasy, and I stand out. I like that pretty much everyone at Green Room that night was probably like, 'Who is this guy next to Sin and Quest?'" And with one Star Wars reference in his cypher freestyle with those rappers and Mercy, Windu stole the spotlight from the rappers as the audience went crazy.
Like many artists, not only rappers, Windu knows being forthright with yourself and in your messages provides a significant upside. It attracts a new audience that is able to relate to your lyrics. But it also presents a considerable gamble on losing past followers who seek the content they have become accustomed to. "If you're just candid with your audience and you let them know who the fuck you are and it's relatable, people are going to fuck with that," said Windu. "The right people are going to fuck with that. I'm going to tell you right now, I'm going to lose fans. There are people that are probably going to want and expect Munchies-type shit."
Windu says his upcoming project, Errata -- a word that means a list of errors in a publication -- will be moving in a different direction. Starting off on a high, Windu says the project will get darker in the middle and find resolution at the end, much like the past few years of his life. He touches on his addiction, loss of faith, and first love.
"This was all stuff in the past I would be afraid to vent in music, because for whatever reason, I felt the need to portray this persona and just stick to the script," said Windu. "I'm owning up to a lot of shit and acknowledging where I've fucked up in the past. Aside from that, I just think it sounds sweet."
Follow Lee Castro on Twitter @LeeMCastro.
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