How Long A 'Hustla'?

CassidyIn spring 2004, the industry was watching closely as "Hotel," the debut single from Cassidy featuring R. Kelly, zoomed to No. 4 on the Billboard Hot 100. While the single helped the Philadelphia-born rapper's album "Split Personality" sell almost 413,000 units, he was not completely pleased with the project.

"My first album was a little tarnished because there were a lot of people that didn't know about real hip-hop that were influencing my project," Cassidy recalls. "But it helped me prove to the label that I could sell records and that if they gave me the tools that I needed, I could be even bigger."

J Records agreed, giving him the green light to create an album that would expose fans to the real Cassidy. "I'm a real hip-hop head that started off in the ciphers on the street corners, battling cats face to face. I didn't start off doing commercial songs. I wanted to go hard again like I did before I got into the industry," he says.

Judging by the success of "I'm a Hustla," the first single and title track from his sophomore effort (due this week), Cassidy's approach is paying off. The Swiss Beatz-produced tune peaked at No. 5 on the Billboard Rap chart, and the ringtone is generating its own major buzz. However, last week the rapper turned himself into Philadelphia police, who arrested him in connection with a recent shooting that left one man dead and two others injured.