Nashville nickname evolves from lifestyle to brand

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) – In the cultural arts retail space of the PSV Store near downtown Nashville, Carlos Partee sits next to longtime Nashville DJ C-Wiz.

Partee is the owner of local fashion brand Cashville Etc. He sells a collection of shorts, shirts and hats. Some of the clothing is inspired by life in Nashville in the ’90s and early 2000s – like watching the city’s now-defunct football team Nashville Kats Arena.

“The Kat was a football player,” says Partee. “So I put a bankroll in Kat’s hands.”

Partee is from North Nashville. He says he built the brand so Nashville residents could be proud of the city they grew up in. He started with a single hat. But now he’s preparing to open a brick and mortar store.

“I want you to be able to say, ‘I’m from Cashville,'” he says, “when you’re in New York or Texas or whatever state.”

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There are all sorts of popular nicknames for US cities. There’s Sin City for Las Vegas, The City of Brotherly Love for Philadelphia and Music City for Nashville.

The Music City moniker doesn’t necessarily represent Nashville’s black community. One alias that does this is Cashville. Over the years it has evolved from a lifestyle brand to a community brand.

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Many people who identify with Cashville culture have their own way of speaking, including how they describe Nashville’s geographic landscape: Out East, Out West, Out North, and Out South.

But there are other words, too, Partee says as he rises from his seat.

“Oh, oh, a good one. This part. On me.”

These are terms also used in other communities across the country. However, there is one that stands out locally.

“The other word, instead of saying ‘we do it like this,'” says C-Wiz, “we always say ‘we do it like Kat.'” It sounds like KAT.”

C-Wiz says he remembers the Cashville name dating back to the ’90s.

“The street funded a lot of what was going on. Hence the term ‘Cash’, ‘Cashville’,” he continues. “Well, there are some other Nashville historians who might think differently, but I think that’s how it came out.”

The name stuck. It eventually became a part of the Nashville hip hop scene. The lyrical content was also similar to what was being released by other rappers in the South.

“Like the slang from ‘Tennessee to Texas,'” says C-Wiz. “Atlanta was great — all those other places were great — but we really connected to Texas and Louisiana.”

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These connections ranged from New Orleans’ Cash Money Records to UGK rappers Bun B and Pimp C. The duo were popular in Houston. C-Wiz went on to put together a mixtape for the group “Trill Azz Mixez”. The tape contained a remix of the song “Pocket Full of Stones”.

Still, like its jargon, Cashville also has its own taste in music — spanning both old- and new-school rappers. These artists include Kool Daddy Fresh, Pistol, Quanie Cash and Trapperman Dale.

There are also longtime artists like Starlito, who grew up in the East. According to Starlito, the Cashville nickname has changed over the years. In modern times, Cashville is Nashville and Nashville is Cashville.

“I don’t think there’s a difference per se,” he explains. “I think the Cashville moniker, for namesake purposes, is more of an urban thing.”

But that wasn’t always the case. Cashville used to be a word mostly shared by people who knew about things on the street. It was an indication of hustle and bustle. It was used around the same time Nashville emerged.

“It was always something to strive for. There was something sophisticated about it,” says Starlito. “In terms of Cashville, you wanted to make some money. That’s what you wanted to show.”

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But those times have changed. Cashville is not only popular in small circles. Check cashing houses have even started using it. Many people became familiar with the name after the release of Straight Outta Cashville in 2004. It was rapper Young Buck’s debut album.

“That put this namesake, or nickname, in the spotlight for our town,” says Starlito.

Today, Cashville is something that represents people no matter where you live in the city. But the question also arises: is that a good thing?

Nashville natives who grew up in the city have moved farther from the city. Outsiders move in, and big developments transform old neighborhoods. He predicts that the next artist to explode will be more in tune with mainstream Cashville brand than lifestyle.

“I wouldn’t say it’s deadened,” Starlito adds, “but it’s become more of a namesake than a cultural thing.”

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