Cold Ca$e and The IRA Family: Interview on Their Musical Journey

Meet Cold Ca$e, a rapper hailing from Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, whose journey into music began at the tender age of 11, much like his sons, aged 12 and 14, who are already making waves in the rap scene. Part of a unique family of rappers and lyricists, Cold Ca$e is joined by his wife and long-time partner in crime, Mean $treak, to form the pioneering rapping family known as “The IRA.” Their music delves deep into raw storytelling, offering a glimpse into a turbulent past marked by street life—drug dealing, prison sentences, violence, DEA raids, and the illicit production of crack cocaine and marijuana. Cold Ca$e and The IRA family invite their audience into a world of authentic street music, drawing from experiences that narrowly led them away from a life behind bars.

Q: Cold Ca$e, can you tell us about your journey into music? What sparked your passion for writing and performing at such a young age?

A: I grew up in the inner-city suburbs of Pittsburgh, PA, listening to artists like Tupac, Biggie, NAS, Eminem, Mobb Deep, & the Beastie Boys. As a troubled teen, I frequently found myself in trouble with law enforcement, with my first arrest at 16. I spent a lot of time on the streets and eventually learned how to cook and sell crack cocaine. Around the same time, I started growing marijuana until my parents discovered my operation in their garage and my bedroom closet. I was drawn to the fast money and felt like the rap songs I listened to reflected my own life.

Hip-hop and rap music played a crucial role in saving my life. They helped me shift my focus to making music and sharing my experiences, steering me away from a potential life of crime. Despite spending so much time in and out of jail, I was fortunate to break the cycle and have two sons, See-Money and Baby Gangsta, who changed everything for me.

Q: How does it feel to have your sons, Baby Gangsta and See-Money, following in your footsteps as rappers and lyricists? What advice do you give them as they navigate their own paths in the music industry? 

A: I feel proud of my sons following in my footsteps as rappers and lyricists. I encourage their growth as artists and support them in carving out their own paths. It’s incredible to watch them evolve as artists since they started rapping at such young ages—10 and 11 to be exact. It’s fascinating to see how distinct their styles are from one another and how they continue to develop as serious contenders in the industry.

My most important advice to my sons is to stay far away from drugs and people who use them. I spent over 20 years selling cocaine and crack to people who destroyed their lives, letting the addiction consume them. I had friends who sold heroin, and it was even worse watching people desperately seeking a fix. I’ve been upfront with my boys about my past from the start. They’ve seen me in jail and been part of DEA raids. Anyone who claims they haven’t “lived that life” has no idea what my kids have endured.

Q: The IRA is a unique concept as a family of rappers. How did the idea of forming a rapping family come about? What’s the dynamic like working with your partner Mean $treak and your sons? 

A: The idea sparked when my son Deven, aka “Baby Gangsta,” spontaneously started rapping one evening at just 10 years old, without any prompting. He found some beats and decided to dive into rap because he wanted to. Personally, I began writing music in my early twenties, experimenting with beats and flow as a distraction from other challenges, like dealing with legal cases in California. Little did I imagine, 10-15 years later, I’d be recording music at ID Labs in Pittsburgh, PA, alongside my family—that’s truly surreal.

Once Baby G started rapping, his brother quickly joined in. Before I knew it, I was digging out my old rhyme book and rediscovering my passion for writing. The boys wanted to hit the studio to record the music we were creating together. That’s when Mom, aka Mean $treak, joined in, and The IRA Family was born! Working with my teenage sons and my wife of 25 years has been nothing short of amazing. Music is honestly the one thing we never argue about—it’s our shared passion and joy.

Of course, we’re not your average “family.” We rap. Mom and Dad have a history as drug dealers. We’ve experienced police raids, DEA busts, arrests, incarceration, and even cultivated metric tons of marijuana. Our life has been wild and unconventional. All of these experiences combine to shape who we are today: The IRA Family.

Cold Ca$e and The IRA Family: Interview on Their Musical Journey
Cold Ca$e Instagram

Q: Your past is marked by significant challenges, including encounters with the DEA and life on the streets. How have these experiences shaped your music and your perspective on life?

A: My past experiences, including drug dealing, street life, and encounters with the DEA, have profoundly shaped my music into what it is today—authentic and real. Contrary to misconceptions, my life’s ups and downs since age 13, including multiple incarcerations across three states, have not only influenced my music but also provided a new perspective on life—one where I never want to return to prison. Our music, whether by Cold Ca$e, Mean $treak, See-Money, Baby Gangsta, or the IRA Family, is raw and unfiltered, devoid of autotune gimmicks. We focus on real, lyrical storytelling about drug dealing, prison life, police raids, family, and growing up.

Q: Who are some of your biggest influences in the rap game, both past  and present? How have they impacted your style and approach to music?

A: Growing up, I listened to a lot of Pac, BIG, Birdman, and Master P, sprinkled with the Beastie Boys, Mobb Deep, and Lil Wayne. In the late ’90s, around ’98-’99, I started getting into Eminem, one of the few mainstream white artists alongside the Beastie Boys. As I grew older and discovered more artists, 2 Chainz and Yo Gotti caught my attention. Among all these influences, I find Master P to be the most impactful. He transitioned from a crack dealer to building a national brand that resonated with teenagers like me when I was 16-17 years old. This was in an era without YouTube, Instagram, TikTok, or Spotify—no social media to boost his efforts. P hustled and grinded until he turned “No Limit Records” into a powerhouse. That journey remains a profound inspiration to me.

Q: What are your thoughts on See-Money’s new release “Silent”?

A: I think See-Money’s latest release, “Silent,” represents a significant step forward in his journey as an emerging artist. I’m incredibly proud of his ability to delve into storytelling, especially considering he wrote this track entirely on his own at the age of 13! It’s amazing to witness how much his style and flow have evolved over the past 14-18 months. He’s gearing up to drop a new single titled “By Myself” in late August to early September 2024, and he’s collaborated with Raging Films on the music video, promising something bigger, better, and different from his previous releases. There’s a lot happening, and we’re excited to showcase See-Money’s growth as a 14-15-year-old emerging artist from Pittsburgh.

Q: Can you walk us through your creative process when crafting a new song? How do you collaborate with Mean $treak, Baby Gangsta, and See-Money during this process?

A: Honestly, I handle a lot of the hooks. Once I come up with a hook and a verse, I’ll pitch it to the rest of the family. If everyone vibes with the hook and the beat, they each write their own verses, and that’s how an IRA Family track is born! Sometimes, I’ll think of a song that would suit the entire family, and we’ll sit down together to develop our ideas into a full track.

Q: What can fans expect from Cold Ca$e and The IRA in the coming months? Are there any upcoming projects or releases you’re particularly excited about?

A: Fans can anticipate major releases from The IRA Family later this year. We’re dropping a track titled “Inflation” in late summer, addressing the current struggles faced by blue-collar families like ours across America. We’ve filmed an incredible music video for this with Raging Films in Ambridge, PA, and we’re thrilled to share it with everyone.

Additionally, we’re gearing up to release our second studio album, following up on our debut “The IRA Family Crime Syndicate Vol: 1” from 2021. Look out for this in the latter half of 2024. Personally, I, aka “Cold Ca$e,” have my third studio album coming later this year, along with the release of my next single “Red Rum” by the end of summer. Baby Gangsta has a major release titled “13” dropping in late July, accompanied by a full music video from Raging Films. Mean $treak is set to release her new single “John Doe” in late summer 2024, along with her second studio album and a significant video release.

We’ve got a lot on the horizon, so stay tuned! Follow us on Spotify & Instagram, and thank you all for your support!

As we conclude our journey into the world of Cold Ca$e and The IRA family, their commitment to raw, authentic storytelling shines through. Through their music, they illuminate the challenges and triumphs of their past, offering listeners a glimpse into a life shaped by resilience and creativity. Stay tuned for more from this pioneering rapping family as they continue to evolve and inspire with their unique blend of lyrical prowess and personal narrative. Follow them on their musical journey and witness firsthand the power of music to transcend adversity and unite generations.