Photo by Taryn Kacey

Spotlight

How Casey Carter Went From Selling Mix CDs to Building a Local Hip-Hop Media Empire

What started as a high school Myspace page has blossomed into a vital force in the Seattle scene.

If you’ve been in or around the Seattle music scene over the past 10 years, Casey Carter is a name you will certainly be familiar with. Whether you remember her early days as a blogger posting entertainment gossip or her video interviews with major players in the industry like DJ Drama and Lil B, her content on misscaseycarter.com has reached thousands and thousands of viewers. Seattle hip-hop has lost a few legends lately—for example, the passing of Jonathan Moore and the migration of Larry Mizell Jr., two of the scene’s biggest supporters. Carter has worked hard to promote Seattle’s hip-hop community on her own terms, but unlike her forebears, her story hasn’t been told. Who is Casey Carter, where did she come from, and where does she plan to go from here?

Carter came onto the scene when Myspace ruled the net. When Twitter was still in its infancy, Facebook had yet to catch on, and Instagram and Soundcloud hadn’t even been born, the Rainier Beach High School senior started creating mix CDs with tracks ripped from Napster. “I was selling them too,” Carter says. “That was my hustle in high school. I was making a good 60 bucks a week.”

Soon after, Carter, who was born CaseyAnn, adopted the name Casey Carter. “I had a Myspace page, and around that time I fell in love with Lil Wayne,” she explains. “I just got out of a relationship, and that’s when Lil Wayne was putting out all those mixtapes every fuckin’ day, and it was fire. He was my boo. My iPod was full of Lil Wayne. I listened to him every day and became obsessed with him. One day my home-girl called me CC, and I was like, ‘What’s that?’ She said, ‘Casey Carter. You’re Casey Carter.’ I was like, ‘That sounds dope, I’m taking that right now.’ ”

That Myspace page, which is still up, became Carter’s first official blogging platform. There she posted weekly mixes of new music she was listening to. In 2008 she made things a little more formal, launching mscaseycarter.blogspot.com, where she began posting entertainment gossip, music news, Lil Wayne songs of the day, news about the 2008 presidential election, and pictures from parties around Seattle.

In January 2010, Carter launched misscaseycarter.com, and with it a new angle, making the conscious decision to pivot from a heavy focus on national music and considerably upping her local coverage. Her introduction to the local scene came by way of an invite to a show from her friend Juga Hill, who was playing at Nectar. “This was a side of the local scene that I had never seen,” she says. “It was super tight. From then I was hooked. I was like, ‘I’m going to connect with them and do my part in helping the scene blow up.’” Her experience there blossomed into a love for local hip-hop that changed the direction of her career.

The Miss Casey Carter brand really took off in popularity with content on YouTube. Carter was known for interviewing artists both local and national, and her site often received video drops from major artists like Big Boi, J Cole, and Ne-Yo that set her apart from the field of local bloggers. With these mainstream endorsements and interviews flowing in, Carter’s YouTube page hits began to skyrocket. Local artists able to score a Casey Carter interview got to have their music and brands reach thousands of viewers. Some even offered to pay Carter for interviews, but she always kept her original motivations in mind.

“I love this stuff,” Carter says. “I love putting people on to stuff. I love sharing things. I love being the person to tell you about something. When you go to the website and you discover a new artist, or find out about an event and you go to it, you like it and you’re like ‘Fuck, this is tight—Casey Carter told me about it’—that’s what I do this all for. I want to be the person you turn to for any kind of recommendation.”

Photo by Pepper Crown

As her brand grew, launching a series called Short Order on which she premiered local music videos in a style reminiscent of BET’s Rap City, she was soon unable to maintain everything on her own. “I never really got sleep,” she tells me. “I was consistently on the computer all the time. I was editing my interviews back then too. I didn’t have someone editing those for me. It was all me for the longest time.” After receiving advice from a friend, she put out a call for interns. The first wave of misscaseycarter.com interns started well, but none lasted. “They were great, but then they all started doing their own things,” Carter recalls. “Not in music. Like one became a mom, one started growing weed.”

In 2013, Carter reached out for interns again. This time a young guy named Carrick Wenke, who had just won Kingdom Crumbs tickets in a misscaseycarter.com giveaway, answered the call. “When it comes to journalism and sounding professional, I’m not a good writer,” Carter explains. “I have to try really hard to write. So I need that on the website. I can develop all the content and the interview styles all day, I’m a great producer, but when it comes to executing the content in a professional way, I couldn’t do that. So Carrick hit me up right away and he started with the blog.”

Carter’s partnership with Wenke has blossomed into the platform you see today. Together they started a new website, The Blow Up, in 2015, with the idea of cultivating and inspiring independent artists. The website features advice columns to assist new artists with their growing careers. One of the most concrete ways they help is the “Black Market” tab, where artists can post their music and receive reader feedback. “We want to help discover new music and help weed out all the bullshit that’s out there,” Carter says. “Everyone’s a rapper now, everyone makes music, everyone makes beats. But we want people to be able to come to our website and see that these are the people you should be paying attention to.”

With Wenke handling most of the front-end work on The Blow Up, Carter has been able to reach into new areas of content creation. In December 2016, with local photographer Darryl Reese, she launched The Glow Up podcast, which takes Carter back to the blogspot days when she gave readers a glimpse into her everyday life. She talks about her week, detailing the TV shows and movies she has watched, the music she is listening to, and the events she has attended. She also gets back to her bread and butter—interviews. The Glow Up has had an impressive list of guests already, including Seattle producers Keyboard Kid and Jake One, Sub Pop’s Porter Ray, and Ms. Meli Darby.

The new podcast may be the main focus for now, but during our interview, she also hinted at the launch of a new website. Whatever happens next, Casey Carter has already made her mark in the Seattle hip-hop scene. “I’m gonna keep going and going until something blows up.” The Blow Up Co. Presents Get Blown With Isabella Du Graf, Mista DC, Lia B, DJ KWEEN KAY$H. Barboza, 925 E. Pike St., thebarboza.com. $10. 21 and over. 8 p.m. Thurs., July 6.

music@seattleweekly.com

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