How does a UT Arlington and Eastfield journalism dropout find a way to express his love for the city and the teams that represent it? He might as well rap, he figured.
Garland native Kevin Cusingberry told his friend, an aspiring recording artist, that they should work on a mixtape together. His friend only had a month left in the country before moving to Toronto, so within weeks, Cusingberry bought a MacBook and paid for his buddy’s microphone, in cash. Within months, Cusingberry released a single and adopted a new moniker: Cush With a C.
By the summer of 2019, Cush released his first album, The Balancing Act. On Feb. 5, he dropped his sophomore effort, Nothing’s Perfect.
“I tell people I feel like I learned more life lessons from college than I did from the classroom to come back home and figure out what was next for me," Cush says. And, ultimately, it still took me a couple of years, but the music kind of ended up being that next step for me.”
His first album was primarily recorded in his apartment. A cracked version of FL Studio, a friend’s microphone and YouTube became Cush’s only tour guide to recording. With no engineer, the artist did his own mixing. The sound may not be the crispest, but Cush raps with a fervor that’s hard to ignore.
On “Nothing Lasts Forever,” the rapper professes that he wants to be known as an all-time great, like some of his baseball heroes.
“I’ve been sitting back like recliner/ pen with wit’ me/ designer/ Ken Griffey /Piazza/any other [explicit] you know in the Hall of Fame going bonkers.”
On his single “Mike Modano Flows,” he's braggadocious amongst his peers: “Lately I’ve been sliding in Dallas like Mike Modano/ I’m just getting better than all the rappers that I know.”
Doing the work himself helped him communicate better with his current engineer, Xela.
“I didn’t ask anyone for advice. I literally was just like ‘Let me drag this over here. Let me push this and see what this does,'" Cush says jokingly. "I ended up putting something together that was just good enough.”
Cush looks at success as progress. Two years ago, his first performance was at an open mic at Grow Desoto Market Place in front of fewer than 100 people. Prepandemic life, he would travel between Deep Ellum and Austin, performing at small clubs and bars. He closed out 2020 with a live show with Vibes Texas.
The year ended well for Cush, but it was just as tumultuous as anyone else's. He lost an uncle. Then there were the killings of George Floyd and Breanna Taylor, which inspired thousands to protest in the streets of Dallas —Cush among them.
“Me and a lot of artists just didn’t feel right dropping music with so much going on in the world,” he says, looking back on last summer. “Not just COVID, but political stuff. I took some really close losses as well. But I kept recording, and it was like August before I felt comfortable putting anything out, even a single.'”
Cush considered that streaming has given music consumers shorter attention spans, so while recording hundreds of songs for his latest album, he wanted to keep the project tight and settled on a release of 11 songs.
Local traffic also played a big part into why the album needed to be concise.
“It feels like it takes 30 minutes to get anywhere in Dallas,” Cush says. “I try to get my projects to be as close to 30 minutes as possible. So that by chance if somebody presses play on my project, as soon as they get in the car, they might have to get all the way through in that time from getting from their house to their job.”
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