Tucson hip-hop artist Cash Lansky drops 'Man Of The House,' his major indie debut

After a youth spent sidestepping adverse life events — obstacles that for some would have ended in ruin — Tucson independent hip-hop artist Cash Lansky emerges with “Man Of The House,” his debut on a major indie label.

Reflecting on themes of family, hardships, manhood, perseverance and ultimately redemption, “Man Of The House” showcases Lansky’s storytelling prowess.

For Lansky, now 39, his art has become more than a passion, but a platform for societal change, personal growth, and transformation — disclaiming a reality shaped by the arcane notion of predestination — to one of self-determination.

His story unfolds here.

Early life

Born in Pittsburgh in the mid-1980s, Dominic Harris (known artistically as Cash Lansky) came of age in a snake-bitten neighborhood along the East 29th Street Corridor; a long, long way from Mayberry. A fictional country town where all of its inhabitants were white, Mayberry — the setting of popular ’60s sitcom The Andy Griffith Show — perpetuated the myth of an unspoiled, idealized America where bellies are always full, problems slight, and conflicts resolved through good-neighborliness.

Lansky arrived in the arid Sonoran Desert by way of sub-arctic Alaska.

“Growing up in Fairview with a sister and brother, we only had a little, but we learned early how to make the best of what we had,” Lansky noted. Up until the Civil Rights Act of 1964, Fairview, Alaska — once an independent city that was annexed by Anchorage in 1959 — was the only area where African Americans could buy property.

Raised by a hard-working single mother — with the strong presence of his grandmother — Lansky is no stranger to the cross.

“I was raised in the church, Seventh-day Adventist,” he avowed with a mix of reverence and fear. ” We weren’t allowed to do a motherfuckin’ thing from Friday until the sun went down on Saturday. I’m not playing. No TV. You couldn’t go outside. Nothing.”

Seventh-day Adventists are distinguished in part by observing the Sabbath on Saturdays, according to a version of the Gregorian calendar .

“My mama raised me to be the best that I can be,” he said.

At an early age Lansky fell in love with music. He credits his cousin for sparking his interest. “Shadik’s passion for music was contagious. I spent hours in the studio with him. I remember being fascinated by how an idea could be captured and could last forever,” he said, still wonderstruck.

“That was the moment I knew what I wanted to do in life,” Lansky told the Sentinel in a recent interview.

Lansky’s family left Alaska in 1999, in his early teens.

“We moved to Tucson. It was quite a culture shock,” he recalled. “I did not know a soul.”

The impact of the stark transition took its toll. Beleaguered, Lansky fell into a pit of darkness.

“I was depressed for months,” he expressed. Yet, the light he eventually found to illuminate his path out of darkness revealed a new avocation.

“I used writing to help me get through.”

Changing the game

At one point in his young life, like so many seemingly trapped in an urban jungle where survival becomes the primary objective, Lansky made some bad decisions.

Decisions for which redemption usually comes with a heavy toll.

He found himself at the proverbial crossroads.

Lansky recalled growing up with his best friend in Freedom Park, the hoops of fire they passed through, and how they planned to escape the vicious cycles inherent to life in the hood.

“We was selling dope together,” Lansky confided, with candor. “After a while, he said to me, ‘Yo, we can’t keep doing this. Fuck it. We’re either going to end up in jail or end up dead. We’ve got to do something.'”

They both decided, on the spot, that the way forward was to enlist in the military.

Almost immediately his friend was accepted into the Army. Lansky’s enlistment efforts, however, were stymied.

“I failed the drug test.”

The military prohibits recruits from having any visible body tattoos, three or more convictions related to driving while intoxicated, drugged, or impaired in the past five years, any convictions (or pending charges) for five or more misdemeanors, or being unable to pass a drug or alcohol test.

“It was not meant for me to go,” Lansky mused, looking back in hindsight. “My wife was pregnant at the time.”

“I felt like I broke a promise to my best friend. I live with that regret,” he said, wistfully. “But, I had a certain path that I had to follow.”

On a date with destiny, the Fates had conspired.

Rise from the underground

Since his debut album “Simplicity” was released in 2013, Cash Lansky has been a mainstay on the Tucson hip-hop scene.

The very next year, Lansky was handpicked by living hip-hop legend Murs, who released “The Tonite Show” (2014) — a collectanea which featured Marley B, DJ Fresh and Lansky — on the veteran rapper’s 316 label.

Lansky’s rise from underground circuits is chronicled in his discography. Which includes numerous singles and LPs. To include: “S.E.E.” (GLDN Artist Group, 2016), “The Cool Table” (GLDN Artist Group, 2017), and “Cash Is King” (GLDN Artist Group, 2018).

The record deal

Recently, Lansky inked a deal with Mello Music Group.

Founded in Tucson in 2007 by former UA alumnus and college DJ Michael Tolle — after missing nights spent rifling through record crates and spinning cuts — Mello Music Group is an internationally acclaimed record label on a mission to broaden the world’s conception of contemporary hip-hop, funk, jazz, and soul.

MMG has released albums and compilations by producers and rappers such as Oddisee, Apollo Brown, Ghostface Killah, Quelle Chris, Kool Keith, and many others.

“People always ask me, ‘What am I looking for?” Tolle said. “I am not looking for anything. I want to feel something. And with Cash’s record that is what happened.”

In a world awash with fleeting trends, there is an organic feel to “Man Of The House,” an album marked by authenticity. In keeping with Mello Music Group’s slogan, it “sounds beautiful like the truth.” Pike Romero, the marketing and production coordinator for MMG, said, “That is something that we try to keep strong to our heart.”

Although the subject matter on the album is reflective, Lansky’s vision is future forward.

“The music that I create is not for everybody,” he noted. “And that is OK.”

Moreover, “Man Of The House” is not just a collection of music, it is the embodiment of Lansky’s life.

“This album is a big deal. Not just because it’s Tucson at its finest, but because it’s art; real, genuine, genius, elegant and poised, powerful and unapologetic,” James Owens, the voice of Jivin’ Scientists, wrote on social media of “Man Of The House” upon its release.

“Man Of The House” (2024) marks Cash Lansky’s first release with Mello Music Group.

Prelude

The seven tracks that comprise the record— produced by Torrence Wade and Mario Luciano (best known for work with J. Cole, Drake, and Kendrick Lamar) — stand as testaments to Lansky’s resilience and hard-won growth.

Already a fan of his work, he knew the moment that he heard Wade’s beats that a collaboration was imminent.

Sonically exploring new terrain, there is a sophistication to the record; a maturity that only comes with the passage of time after long hours spent in self-reflection. As an artist, Lansky delivers his lyrics with a new found voice.

The album features vignettes by rappers Nrthview and T-Wade, a spoken word piece by author Marquez Price, and a reminiscence by Tammy Malloy, Cash’s mother.

Recently, at a listening party in advance of the album’s release, Lansky and contributors offered anecdotes about the album’s production.

What follows is the play-by-play.

The tracks

1. From the downbeat, there is a rawness to the opening track; no highly-processed synthesizer patches nor robotic pitch-shifted voices. Piano dominates the instrumentation on the cut.

Sixty seconds into it Lanksy spits — “If you know me / Then you know me / I don’t know how to pretend” — setting the tone for the album.

As “In Due Time” faded, Lansky appeared to be visibly shaken.

“My grandma played a big role in my life,” Lansky said, as tears welled up in his eyes. “That was the first time that I got to express myself about her passing.”

“I remember when she was on her deathbed, I was crying hard. She looked up at me (as if to say), ‘N—-, why you crying?'”

“My grandma had been in pain since I was five years old. She was the strongest woman. So, when I was writing that shit, something came over me.” He realized that “she had been set free.”

That’s probably my favorite song that I’ve ever recorded,” Lansky concluded. 

2. On “No Heart In The Art,” Wade’s beats establish an uneasy sense of urgency, like the tick-tock of a clock. To which Lansky commented, “With art you’re not running out of time, but you are definitely on the clock when it comes to who is willing to listen to what you have to say.”

“I realized that a lot of young artists weren’t being authentic in the music that they were creating,” Lansky observed.

Understanding the power of music to influence came out in his lyrics.

“These n—-s put no heart in the art and shows / Take it all in from the highs and lows / Is it really worth it what’s the cons and the pros / When you know the author you know how the stories goes… / Your purpose on this earth is to build and not destroy / Tell me I’m lying?” Lansky spat.

“When I first heard Cash’s hook, I was so lit,” Wade enthused. “He’s taking people’s heads off.”

3. “Man Of The House” features a spoken word piece by essayist, best-selling poet and author Márquez Price narrating Lansky’s story of trials and personal growth — after being obliged into a role all too many boys face — of stepping into manhood at a young age.

Over a musical bed, cultivated by Wade, of gospel piano chord progressions and a church choir singing from hymnals, Price speaks to the generational curse a fatherless child inherits and the need to pivot.

“The greatest honor on this earth is you get to be a dad with the woman of your dreams. We all need a king. Like you and I growing up. You broke that pattern, Cash, to be man of the house,” Price recited in homage.

As the track began to fade, an invited guest of the listening party, Brian exclaimed, “This is a grown man’s album.” His remarks were met with applause.

After which Lansky offered, “Márquez has a way of painting pictures with his words; no beats needed.”

Price volleyed, “This whole spoken word was a salute to you.”

Unbeknownst to Wade during production of the track — before ever presenting his idea to Lansky — the musical bed that he planted would function as a trigger.

“It brought things full circle for me,” Lansky reminisced. “That type of music is what I was listening to during the Sabbath hour as a kid.”

4. “Nothing Less Nothing More” features T-Wade.

“I got so much game from my mom,” Lansky stated. “At a young age my mom told me, ‘Son, you’ve got two strikes against you: You’re black and you’re young. Never give them a third. Because once you get the third strike, your ass is in jail, and you’re caught up in their system.'”

“The reason why me and my grandmother were so close was because my uncle was taken away from her at an early age,” Lansky revealed. “She replaced me with him because he was behind the wall for 27 years for a crime that he didn’t do.”

“A single mom raising three kids by herself is hard,” he reasoned. “So, when my mom would be frustrated about not being able to pay the bills or why her baby daddy was a piece of shit, she would take it out on me. I would then go to my grandmother who would comfort me.”

Wise beyond his years, Lansky never blamed his mother. “She was doing all that she knew at the time.” Instead, he credits her.

“The world that I live in today is based on the guidance that she gave me, but didn’t understand.”

5. “It’s Givin'” — the first single off the new album — finds Lansky in a dialogue with an unknown someone that he now wishes would have said what he needed to hear as a kid.

He also acknowledges his incarcerated cousins.

“One of my cousins just came home from doing a 23-year bid for murder that he committed,” Lansky said.

“My other cousin is just a drug dealer,” he said. “He sold drugs because those were the conditions he was in. He’s looking at 20 years minimum, federal case.”

“He is one of the best, whole-hearted people that I have ever met.”

“There are pharmaceutical companies that sell drugs every fucking day. You can buy them with a piece of paper,” Lansky said loudly. “You get hooked on these drugs too.”

“So what is the difference between him and them?”

“I understand the cards that we are dealt in life,” Lansky mused. “But, those cards don’t always play out as we would imagine.”

“As within so without as above so below / See the word on the street is that you reap what you sow / The smartest man ain’t always rich / He probably on skid row / Being real is an illusion depending on the perception.” – Excerpt from “It’s Givin'” by Cash Lansky.

6. Featuring Tammy Malloy, “A Mother’s Joy” is a reminiscence about the bond between mother and son.

“That was my mom talking,” Lansky noted. “She wasn’t able to give us everything that she wished that she could have, being a single mom.”

“It was the small things that mattered to her.”

Malloy looks back with joy — on a moment that took place in Alaska at the Fairview Community Recreation Center — on fulfilling her young son’s request for a pair of sneakers (Nike Air Force 1’s) that he had asked for.

“That is one of the fondest moments I have as a kid.”

In deep gratitude, Lansky tips a hat to his beloved mother.

7. On the closing track — “Take Some Time” (featuring Nrthview) — Lansky aims straight for the heart.

His lyrics say it all.

“I need love while I am still here / I need to feel it / You can keep the roses.”

Love. That is Lansky’s focus in life and on this album.

“Man Of The House” functions as a document. It is an album that is more than a work of art or a reflection of lived experiences. It is the embodiment of Cash Lansky’s life thus far.

“This record comes from the bottom of my soul,” Lansky said.

Giving back

“I run a nonprofit called A Hand Up Not Hand Out,” Lansky imparted. “When my wife and I first started, we wanted to touch on mental health issues in the Black and Brown community — how important that really is — and to teach about cultural awareness.”

“We are currently a part of the 29th Street Thrive Zone program.”

A community-driven effort, the 29th Street Corridor encompasses an area that spans from Alvernon Way to Craycroft Road, 22nd Street to Golf Links Road that (as of 2022) contained about 4,717 households with a median household income of $32,684.

In June 2022, the city Housing and Community Development Director Liz Morales announced, “the East 29th Street Corridor — like the Thrive in the 05 — this new initiative aims to connect neighborhoods and residents, businesses, organizations, and city departments, bringing everyone together to boost the community’s well-being and opportunities.”

“The city of Tucson has allocated money in that area for improvements,” Lansky said, adding, “Speed bumps, lights, planting trees, anything that you can think of.”

“We host events to engage with the community,” he said. “We threw one back in March; over 400 people came. They wrote down exactly what it is that they want from the city.”

In 1999, when Lansky’s family moved to Tucson they settled into the Meyers Neighborhood along the 29th Street Corridor. Spanning narly 40 acres acres, Freedom Park became the hub of activity.

“To me, that’s home. That is where Cash Lansky became who Cash Lansky was, because of that area,” Lanksy affirmed. “So, it is my motherfuckin’ due diligence to pay it back to that community; to build it up.”

“My focus is to create a youth center in that area.”

“I am not talking about some Boys and Girls Club shit. Fuck the Boys and Girls Club. I said that in a meeting in front of the City Council and a bunch of prominent people,” Lansky rejoined. “I know that the Boys and Girls Club doesn’t give a fuck about the community; like they should.”

In 2019, Hearst Connecticut Media published findings on the Boys and Girls Clubs of America. Following a six-month investigation — examining thousands of criminal and civil court documents — the news organization found more than 350 instances of sexual abuse across 35 states allegedly perpetrated by club directors, employees, volunteers, and other members. That included incidents in Arizona, but none in Tucson.

“I need people to come in here and understand that this mom can’t provide breakfast for these little kids. That they don’t have anywhere to wash their clothes or to get their fucking hair cut,” Lansky declared.

“They need a place that promotes self,” he intoned. “I want to be able to give that to my community.”

Lansky is presently writing a proposal to fund a $1.3 million youth center on 29th Street and Swan.