Cold Ca$e could be spending his life in prison. He and his family are making music instead 

Blog, Industry Spotlight, ME Blog, Music, Promo

Cold Ca$e could be spending his life in prison. He and his family are making music instead 

As Thomas Sipes describes it, he’s lived a “hellacious” life. It was only a few years ago that Sipes, better known as East Coast rapper Cold Ca$e, found himself staring down 99 years in prison. He faced a third felony charge in California, a state where a “third strike” can mean life behind bars.“During that whole time it was like a transition time for me,” says Sipes. “I was trying to mature as a person and a father and I was trying to get out of the whole hustle game, get out of selling drugs and get away from street life. I was just trying to get legal, start doing things right for my family and look out for my kids.”In the midst of his legal troubles, Sipes turned to writing music as a means to vent as he hoped he wouldn’t spend the rest of his life in prison. And he wasn’t just facing trouble in California; Sipes also had pending cases in Las Vegas and Pennsylvania. He managed to beat the case in California, took plea deals in others, and started to turn his life around after spending five years on parole. He’s now focusing on a burgeoning music career. His upcoming EP, titled “My Story,” looks back at a life spent in and out of jail as Sipes – and his family – continue their rise from the ashes. “I’ve been in prison, been raided by the DEA, had my kids taken away from me,” he says. “Finally I guess I had an epiphany, woke up and said this life isn’t for me anymore. I need to do something better.”Sipes, a native of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, was first and foremost a poet and writer. He’s worked as a magician and illusionist and says the performing arts are in his soul and blood. He knows his music will offend some but stresses he’s just writing about his own experiences and isn’t one of the “studio gangsters.”It’s become a family project, too. Along with his wife, “Mean $treak,” and their 10 and 12-year-old sons, known as “Baby Gangsta” and “$¢-money$,” the four artists form the first family of Irish descent rappers who are known collectively as “The IRA,” or Irish Rapping Americans. “It’s awesome because it gives us an opportunity to stay together as a family, to work with each other, to be together doing something legal,” Sipes says. He and his wife grew up in the 90s in the midst of the East Coast vs. West Coast rap era, something that influences each of their unique styles. The kids, meanwhile, grew up listening to artists like Eminem. Each of them writes their own music and family members often feature each other on their projects. In all, the family has released at least 20 songs in the last few years and My Story will feature some of their latest work. “99 Years” is an unreleased song written when Sipes was fighting the felony charge for growing marijuana in California. “My Story” is another unreleased track that will appear on the project. A third track from the EP is “Uncivilized,” which details Sipes’ time in and out of prison and other institutions that changed his life forever and left him feeling “uncivilized.”“Stacks” is another new song. It won’t be on the EP, but it covers Sipes’ time selling drugs in Pennsylvania and laundering money. “We could make some drug money, go buy a house for 10 thousand dollars and turn it into a trap house real quick or turn it into something else and flip it and make fifty, sixty thousand on top of that,” he says. Other releases by Sipes and family include “Swine,” on which Sipes expresses his distaste for corrupt police, and “Poverty,” about coming from nothing and having something as an adult. There’s also “Judgement Day,” which is about a snitch making controlled buys from Sipes that spawned his first police raid in Pittsburgh. “Some of the music may be offensive for some people, some people may feel it’s too violent and the music talks too much about crack, drugs, guns and street life,” Sipes says. “I know not everyone is going to relate to this type of stuff and these topics. But I know there are a lot of people out there who can relate to being locked up and dealing drugs for a living and being taken away from your family by law enforcement. I know that there’s going to be critics who say and act like we never sold crack or lived a life like that. But I’d say to those people I did my time in prison and I’ve got a rap sheet a mile long. Court records don’t lie. It’s all real. It happened. Instead of writing a biography – which I considered – I’m telling a story with my music. We as a family are telling our stories. We’re expressing ourselves through these lyrics, even our kids, who were ripped out of bed in the middle of the night by the DEA and taken away from their mom and dad. They have their own stories to tell. Now they’re telling their real life stories through music.”Sipes just wants people to give the music a listen, especially if they like “real gangster rap.” And don’t just listen to Cold Ca$e – listen to everybody in the family. As for the critics who might question allowing his kids to rap about such mature subjects, Sipes says the same things are widely available on television and online. “If we could keep them with us performing and talking about these types of subjects through music rather than actually trying to go out and live a life like that, I think it’s safer for them to express themselves through music rather than go out and live a life like we did and then have to go to jail or get locked up,” he says. “I would rather them express themselves through music and know that you’re telling a story, it’s like a movie. You’re telling a story about your past but you’re not really going out there killing people or shooting people. A lot of this is lyrically expressing ourselves. That’s the most important thing.”

To listen, check out Cold Ca$e, Mean $treak, $¢-money$ and Baby Gangsta on Spotify or Apple Music. ■PROJECT: MY STORY EP (Four Tracks)  



*99 YEARS (Unreleased) 

*MY STORY (Unreleased)