Cas One Vs Figure-Before Our Egos Kill Us Review

TL;DR: CAS ONE TRIES TO STAY GOLD BUT FORGETS THAT HE’S MADE OF SILVER.

 

Cas One is a rapper, originally from Evansville, Indiana, who just made his debut on the legendary Sage Francis’ Strange Famous label. His last album The Monster and the Wishing Well was very well received and allowed him to smoothly slide into the section of the indie rap scene that holds people like B.Dolan, Sadistik and the aforementioned Sage Francis. This new album has slightly higher stakes though because of his signing to Strange Famous and the fact that he has teamed up with respectable EDM and Dubstep producer Figure on this album. It’s not the first time they’ve teamed up though, they’ve worked on and off over the past 10 years and Figure was even Cas One’s traveling DJ  for his first album Liberation, but this is the first full length collaboration between the two and although Figure is not a “hip hop producer”, it still works surprisingly well.

The first two songs set the tone for the album. Walking into the Cult and Staying Gold give you the dark and wobbly production that have some immensely dense bass. This album is like 75% bangers, by the way and these songs are perfect examples of it. They’re fast and punchy but if I had a gripe with the beats, it’s just that they all feel a little “samey”. There’s not a lot of variety and the perfect example of that is when the song The Devil and Jacob Snider came on and some horns emerged; I had to check I was listening to the same album. After that song the bangers are mostly gone and the beats start to feel a little bit fresher quite honestly. Too bad that accounts for a total of three songs on the album. And even the new mellow vibe is hit or miss with the final song Back Home being a good example. It has some piano in the background that have the chord progression of an EDM anthem from seven years ago except it’s quiet and buried underneath the rest of the production and I swear to god I was waiting for the beat to drop into some loud and grander version of itself that would require some light show and dudes in tank tops and flip flops jumping up and down.

What really makes these beats great is Cas One over them and he will make or break your experience with this album. His lyrics are often times very clever and the topics range from social commentary to the media to his own personal life. And I enjoyed the lyrics on the last three songs the most as it provided the most information and poetic insight into his home life and his relationship with his family.

A standout track is the song Razor Blade Mark that details the typical Scencester poser kid who brags about self harm and addiction as well as “only buys his records from urban outfitters“. It reminds me of a Cage song called Scenester that was off Hell’s Winter that dealt with the same topics in a similarly clever and cynical way.

Staying Gold is probably my favorite track with probably the best hook on the album, which isn’t saying much because unfortunately Cas One is not much of a hook writer. But in all fairness, this is not an album you want hooks on, especially when you have lyrics like:

When there’s no gold left, turn right, go left
A hole in that chest gets filled with an X
Marks the spot. Keep the spark on hold
Look a horse in its mouth, see if them teeth still gold

With the bass-heavy and bouncy beat, this line just fucking shakes you and I love it.

Now, Cas One is not the perfect MC though. I would say that he suffers from the same ailment most indie rappers suffer from in that he lacks a sort of distinct narrative voice. This is hard to explain but I’ll try my best. I’m not getting a clear sense of Cas One’s writing style in this album and who he is in particular. The best way to explain it is that you can tell when you’re reading Slug’s lyrics or Aesop Rock’s lyrics even without the instrumentals, you know for a fact that that’s them. Cas One only feels particularly distinctive when he’s talking about himself and his struggles but other than that he can sometimes be lost in the fray of other introspective independent rappers.

There is one more potential problem with Cas One and that is his voice. The best way to describe it is that he’s got a flow like a mid-paced Eyedea but has the graveled and scratchy voice of like a Buck 65 or Sadistik. And I’m not sure what to think of it. It’s a very melodramatic delivery at times that really puts me off and stops me from listening to dudes like Sadistik. And I really think that his voice will make you love him or apathetic towards him.

I’m a little on the fence about Cas One as an MC and the beats are good if at the same time they are very samey but I find myself coming back to the album time and time again and I’m not sure why. There’s a charm to the album that you can only find in this little niche in the independent hip hop game. Cas One also seems like a really cool dude and I’m down to buy this record once I can as I would like more of these type of musicians emerging from the underground. It’s not my favorite hip hop album and it’s not a perfect album but I got some nice bangers out of it and I’m interested in Cas One’s future.

7/10- Pretty good bruh

headroommuzak@gmail.com

BUY THE ALBUM

Cas One Vs Figure

 

Advertisements

Gorillaz- Humanz Review

TL:DR:

CHARLES DARWIN’S LATEST INSIGHT INTO HUMAN EVOLUTION TAKES THE FORM OF A BAD ELECTRONIC HIP HOP ALBUM. SICK BEATS THO

 

I have a deep sentimentality for Gorillaz. It was the first music group that I became obsessed with and probably got me into music as an entertainment medium in the first place.  Demon Days was my bible in middle school and high school and I think their self titled album is one of the most underrated albums of the 2000s despite Damon Albarn sort of self-cannibalizing Blur in some instances.  Plastic Beach was more of a grower than the other two but it still turned out great with some of the best features of any of the albums. Gorillaz blended hip hop with electronic, soul, rock and piano ballads in some instances with undeniable oddity to the production. Gorillaz’s songs have a distinct flavor to them despite being so varied. With Gorillaz signature attitude towards collaboration and they being my most significant musical experience of my childhood, they led me to so many other groups as well. Because of Gorillaz I found MF Doom, Del the Funky Homosapien, Dan the Automater(and along with him the entire genre of trip hop), Lou Reed and the list goes on and on. Gorillaz is responsible for my open mindedness towards music and although I’ve grown out of them quite a bit, I was so excited for Humanz, and it hurts to say that I’m sorely disappointed.

Humanz starts off with a useless intro, that is so benign it is meaningless to describe, that transitions into arguably the best song on the album: Ascension(feat. Vince Staples). This is such a great opener and Vince is fast and the beat is erratic. It is different than most Gorillaz but it’s different in an exciting way. But immediately afterwards the album starts a horrible trend that continues the rest of the album and is a cardinal sin for any album, it becomes unbearably boring. Strobelite with Pevan Everett singing is sort of catchy but by the time the chorus plays, the song has shown you all of it’s cards. There are no dynamics to this song, no change ups with the chord progression or structure. It’s just a generic soul piece that is irritating to listen to as Pevan makes another appearance with the song Halfway to the Halfway House which is another bland piece of soul that does not make me feel anything after the first minute.

The next song I enjoyed wasn’t until Momentz with De La Soul and is an amazing track. De La Soul takes control of the track in this manic and goofy instrumental that takes over my skul with that hook.

<MOMENTS>

Before this track is one of the singles dropped called Saturn Barz with Popcaan. I’ve grown to enjoy it a little bit although I feel like it’s only catchy in a dirty and cheap way but I can’t help getting into it.

But then this album get’s back to being boring with almost no change in pace. By the way, if you’re a fan who loves 2D, you will be disappointed. He rarely shows up for any extended period of time. There is only one song with no features on it, excluding the interludes, and it’s a decent slow-burning track called Busted and Blue that is a pretty decent sad ballad but it feels so out of place among the rest of the album that it’s hard to understand its purpose.

Purpose is something in particular this album is lacking. It just doesn’t feel like there was any attention to detail to sequencing of the tracks. This lack of effort on this end starts off immediately with the transition from Ascension to Strobelite. Ascension is such a dynamic and intense beginning that becomes quickly underwhelming as you get dropped into one of the least dynamic and exciting tracks in the listing.  The interludes are all incredibly pointless with no discernible connection to any of the songs or any of the other interludes.

The few other highlights in the listing are Let Me Out, Hallelujah Money and one of the bonus tracks: Out of Body. But out of 26 tracks, including interludes, this is not a very solid average for any album, let alone a solid average for a band as consistent as Gorillaz. It feels like Albarn doesn’t even know it’s been seven years since the last album.

I’m gonna get into the visuals to much as that has never been a selling point for me but I’ve heard others complain about the somewhat lackluster visuals and I’ve gotta second that opinion quite honestly. I’m not a visual artist or even very knowledgable about the art but there definitely does seem to be something missing in the music videos that just isn’t clicking with me.

In the end, this album isn’t terrible. The production is great as usual and the performances are mostly great, but this album makes me want to sleep.

 

4/10- Not feeling great on this one.

 

headroommuzak@gmail.com

 

Two more reviews should be coming in the next week.