Philip Cason, better known as “Insane P,” has a pretty crazy life story. He’s spent 15 years as a music producer and background singer, creating music for artists such as Erykah Badu’s background singer Durand Bernarr, Rovo, and Darrah Lashley and singing backup for artists like Common and Justin Timberlake.
“I love being a producer because when an artist comes to you with their vision, and you make their vision come to life, the reaction that you get from the artist is nothing like it. It’s the ultimate satisfaction for me as a producer,” Cason shares.
But it’s not just his musical pedigree that sets him apart — he has faced some incredible life challenges and came out tougher than ever.
Cason’s passion for music began at an early age, thanks to his older brother, Chris. Cason vividly remembers his brother waking him and his other siblings up at seven in the morning to practice harmonies. They’d sing classics from Boys II Men, Troop and Shai.
“I owe a lot to [Chris] because he trained my ear when it came to music, to harmonies.”
Other inspirations included his dad, and of course, P.Diddy.
“I saw how P. Diddy had his camp and I looked up to him. My dad bought me a New York jersey and my brothers and I had a rap group where we would actually rap on a tape recorder and use another radio, and then go to Sam Goody and buy Bad Boy instrumentals,” he says.
Carson joined the Grammy-nominated gospel group Tye Tribbett and G.A when he was 15. He says it was amazing experience where he had the opportunity to go out and minister people.
“Just the response we would get from other people in the community was beyond belief, and that prepared me for knowing what kind of spirits were out there both good and bad. It prepared me for life. It was a blessing.”
And Cason’s blessings only continued. The next year, he was signed to Columbia Records as a background vocalist and went on to sing background for artists like Justin Timberlake, India Arie, and Common, as well as working with producer Timbaland, which is his all-time favorite producer.
“I felt like God was setting me up and saying, I’m putting you in these arenas and these atmospheres to let you know that it is nothing for me to put you in these places if you stay faithful to me,” he says.
At 21, Cason’s life seemed like it was completely on track. But on December 15, 2005, everything changed. He was diagnosed with brain cancer and had to undergo two surgeries.
“The doctors told me I would only have about nine or 10 months to live, and I was terrified. I thought I was going to die.”
But Carson had a support system with him: his family and his faith. As time went on, things got better.
Though the positive insight didn’t mask the long journey ahead of him. Cason suffered from nerve damage and couldn’t use his right hand because he was paralyzed on the right side of his body. Stress mounted on him as he went to physical, speech and occupational therapy.
He fell into a deep depression, didn’t want to produce music anymore, stopped talking for six months, broke all the mirrors in his home because he wasn’t accepting of himself, and even tried to commit suicide three times.
“One night when I was in the hospital by myself, it was actually 11:41 p.m., and I remember the time like it was yesterday, I was saying God, why me?”
Cason didn’t expect the answer he got from him.
Cason says God’s response was, Why not you? What makes you so special that I can’t choose you as an example to show you I’m still God, I’m still a healer?
“Once I got that revelation, I started to look at my situation differently. I looked at my situation as I’m not here for me, but for someone else. I’m going through this situation to show someone that they don’t have to go it alone that they can survive brain cancer,” he explains. “I know it may look bad now, he continued, but you will get through this. It’s not a bad thing to cry, to scream, but when you’re done screaming and crying, pull yourself together and realize that your situation could be worse, because when I left that hospital I cried not because I was getting out, but because there were people that were quarantined in their room, that hospital was their final resting place.”
Cason’s family and friends were incredibly supportive of him during his illness, and he soon got back to his passion-music. His illness had changed the way he worked, though.“I don’t know many producers who produce with one hand. I don’t have the full use of my right hand, so I make all my productions with my left hand.” Having witnessed his insane work ethic and ability to produce music, Cason’s been gifted with the nickname “Insane P” by his collaborators.
Music isn’t Cason’s only passion however. He spends his time talking with high school students about the importance of health screening at a young age and is involved with charity drives and says he would like to start a charity of his own (The Brandon Harris Foundation) in memory of his cousin who lost his battle to Lymphoma, which is the same cancer Cason was diagnosed with.
“The Bible says faith without work is dead, so to me I am successful. I don’t define my success by money, by fame. If I never make it to a major label, if I always be underground as long as I’m happy, healthy and loving what I do, I’m successful, and I believe the favor of God is over my life so heavy, and as long as I keep God first in everything I do, I plan on being around to make great music a long time.”