How far can a joke on Hip-Hop go? According to Ivan Matias, far enough.Matias is the wizard behind the invention and rhymes of Jason Caushun Herndon, Hip-Hops first openly gay rapper. Garnering media attention for an openly gay MC proved to be no small feat. After calling into Hot 97s Funk Master Flexs show and receiving no love, Caushuns exposure to the world was taken to another level after morning show hosts Star & Bucwild decided to play voicemails of Matias rhyming as Caushun.
A move proved to be the catalyst for a full-on media frenzy promoting Caushun as the missing MC in an industry that has often been perceived as homophobic.
For Ivan Matias, creating a rapper that the world would be talking about wasnt difficult at all. Already a successful artist in Europe, he knew what it took to generate buzz for an artist. In this tale, the only thing missing was the right persona to take that buzz all the way to the bank and make history. Although, he hasnt worked on the Caushun
project since 2003, he still gets many requests. This busy songwriter and ghostwriter chopped it up with AllHipHop.com on the creation, rise and fall of the MC that never was, ghostwriting and the business of music.
AllHipHop.com: How did the whole Caushun thing come about?
Ivan Matias: It started out as a prank that we pulled on Funkmaster Flex. A couple of us were hanging out at my crib. The Bash Brothers were there, a Black magazine editor, a major record company publicist and a music publicist. We were all sitting around listening to the radio and decided we wanted to prank Flex while he was on the air. We said lets call up in a flamboyant way and get on his records he was putting out at the time. [The Funkmaster Flex 60 Minutes of Funk
series] Lets make up this character and call him up. It was a funny thing. He wasnt really trying to hear it. Even though he didnt let me spit the rhyme, the next day and night they were all talking about it on the radio. The next day, we decided to call Angie [Martinez] and try it again. She let us spit. She thought it was hot. That became an internal joke. For two weeks we would take songs that were classic Hip-Hop joints and act as if the artist really existed. People were really buzzing about it. One of the people suggested that we get someone to pretend to be the face of Caushun and send them to the station. So, I called Jason.
AllHipHop.com: So Jason Herndon became known as the face behind the voice of Caushun?
Ivan Matias: Exactly. I grew up with him. His voice was like the voice I was putting on the radio and he was out there. I reached out to him. He was an assistant hair stylist at Oscar Blondie. He wanted to get up in the mix. He wanted to do it so he could get his name out there for hair and use it for his career. I recorded a joint and gave it to him. He went to the station and delivered it and they were feeling it.
AllHipHop.com: So he had to learn the rhymes?
Ivan Matias: No. I did it in the voice and all he had to do was show up with the demo. He never learned the rhymes. The tape he gave them was what I did. He never spit for them. When he went to the station, he said he was Caushun, showed them the CD, and that was that. He gave them my
number so if they had to talk to him, they would talk to me. I was thinking I could put out a novelty record on him, sell 500,000 records to females, another 500,000 to the gay community and have a platinum record without selling to anyone else. When Vibe called and asked if we had a record coming out, I was like, Hey, why not?
AllHipHop.com: It doesnt seem like you were prepared for how big this was getting.
Ivan Matias: I wasnt. In the mean time, Im trying to buy time. I was battling people on the morning show as Caushun while Jason was learning the raps. I was trying to create a media train. MTV called. Star & Bucwild wanted him to do a show. In a six-month span, he learned two
verses. That was all he could learn. So we had to find a way to make a show around two verses. We got some dancers and did it.
AllHipHop.com: Why do you think it caught so quickly? What do you think was Caushuns appeal?
Ivan Matias: I think the initial appeal came from the media. What the media gravitated towards was the fact that they have dealt with many people in Hip-Hop. They know there is an underlying issue of sexuality that is not dealt within Hip-Hop and urban culture in general. The fact that there was someone willing to challenge that, or at least bring
that conversation to the forefront, was the appeal.
AllHipHop.com: So are you saying had he not been Caushun The Gay Rapper then folks might have taken it the wrong way?
Ivan Matias: If Caushun would have come out gangsta or thugged out, people would have felt like he was challenging masculinitylike I know this cat isnt coming out saying he is as much of a man as me. In order to make sure I didnt put him in danger, if we kept it funny, people would laugh instead of feeling threatened.READ MORE HERE
Jason “Caushun” Herndon