It feels like we’ve been waiting an eternity for a Casisdead album. The man of many faces has kept his musical output to a minimal over the last decade, releasing only one full body of work, The Number 23. Despite that, Casisdead has built a cult following that most “bigger” artists would be envious of. The Tottenham native has kept fans engaged over the years by maintaining an air of mysteriousness, about not only his identity, but precisely what type of music he intends to release. Most recently, Cas has had a healthy obsession with 80s synths and futuristic soundscapes of the past.
Oxymorons aside, Cas has been quietly creating truly distinctive music at a time artists are increasingly afraid to take risks, creative or otherwise. Since the dawn of the social media age, everything has begun to feel cold and calculated, leaving little room for fun, genuine creativity. Cas doesn’t search for virality, or make contrived “surprise” appearances, he’s elusive; and this short supply has only further increased the demand for more from Casisdead. Maintaining anonymity is another motif that has made fans feel like they’re part of a movement, rather than just fans of the music. Casisdead has doubled down on this with his latest run of releases, as he builds a dystopian world around DEADCORP, the faceless corporation in charge of the world in which the fans inhabit.
The longstanding members of the DEADTEAM, will be well versed in following the trail of breadcrumbs he leaves throughout his densely packed verses. The character Simon is one of these consistent themes that has been embedded in the lyrics as far back as the days of Castro Saint, Cas’ defunct nom de plume. Cas’s visuals have always been as striking as the lyricism, and it’s something that has only ramped up since he signed to XL Recordings, working with longtime friend, and British Actor Ed Skrein on a number of extraordinary videos to accompany Casisdead’s lyrical masterpieces. Famous Last Words is sure to be a special body of work, and fans can only hope they don’t have to wait so long to get a follow up, in the meantime, let us bask in the macabre with 11 essential Casisdead tracks.
Dropping back in 2015, this was a firm fan favourite. “6PM” saw Cas lay down his distinctive vocals over the Glass Candy track “Digital Versicolor”, which featured in the 2005 Tom Hardy film Bronson. Tacked on at the end of “6PM” is “Colours”, another audio expedition into the electronic music genre from the masked wordsmith.
“Play” (Faze Miyake Remix)
One of the most successful tracks from The Number 23. “Play” saw Cas and Faze team up to create chaotic brilliance that has rarely been equalled. “Play” is one of those tracks in Cas’ locker that will always cause pandemonium at any of his shows. It’s also filled with dichotomies between ruthless drug dealer, and someone who enjoys over indulgence in substances almost as much as the clientele; another important theme in Casisdead’s music.
Casisdead’s ear for obscure instrumentals continues on “Walkin”. Which was originally a track by an Australian duo from the mid 70s called Flash and the Pan. Their track “Walking In The Rain” is taken to new heights with Cas’ dark, foreboding lyricism.
Casisdead once again takes on a well known instrumental, and makes it entirely his own. Although many probably recognise this as “ill Manors” by Plan B, the bulk of the track is actually taken from a prominent composer from the Soviet Union, Dmitri Shostakovich.
“Symphony 7” also known as the “Leningrad Symphony”, is the beating heart of this track. The visuals are proof that big budgets don’t equal creativity, and the 1iMedia guys create a really captivating video that is as cleverly entertaining as Cas’ lyrics.
An earlier offering from Cas, which was featured on his Commercial 2 mixtape which only came out as a very limited run on cassette. Here Cas finds himself once again on electro-pop reminiscent of the 80s, as he vividly depicts a Phone call, with some of his most clever lines like: “Where I’m from the drug dealers are glamourised, and if you die by the cannon you’re canonised.”
A slightly different version of the instrumental was featured on 2011 Ryan Gosling movie, Drive. The French producer Kavinsky, specialises in soundscapes that would suit Cas perfectly, here’s hoping for a joint project at some point.
“C From T”
Castro Saint is Casisdead’s grimey alter ego, and this is one of his most celebrated tracks from that era. Castro Saint would feature prominently alongside the likes of Grime legend P Money, and released several tracks under the moniker Castro Saint, which can all be found scattered across various corners of the internet.
“Drug’s Don’t Work“
The Verve’s classic of the same name gets the Casisdead treatment. From the opening few words, Cas plunges us into the dark recesses of his mind with what is arguably is magnum opus. This is a spiritual sequel to his track “Drugs” which he released as Castro Saint.
This time Cas is more focused on the viewpoint of the user, as opposed to the dealer, something which he does with such finesse. A cursory look at the comments will reveal the amount of people this track has reached when it comes to battling addiction.
Probably Cas’ most commercially successful offering to date. The track saw play across national radio, and brought a whole heap of new fans to Cas’ doorstep. Sporting a new mask by now, Cas pens a love story with a unique twist. The video sees BBC Radio 1 DJ Yinka Bokinni cast as the protagonist, and it perfectly captures Cas’ love of BMWs and retro fashion.
“What’s My Name” Feat Giggs
Casisdead never really took the conventional route in terms of uploading his videos via platforms like GRM Daily, Link Up TV or SBTV. Most of his videos lived on his own channel from the get go, however two tracks did actually find themselves onto SBTV’s legendary platform, the original version of “What’s My Name” and the politically charged “You Might Be Scared”.
This track was the first time the pair linked up, and Cas would go onto feature prominently on Giggs iconic album Landlord.
Cas teams up with Detroit native Skywlkr who’s produced for the likes of Run The Jewels, Childish Gambino and Danny Brown. The most streamed track to date from The Number 23, its Cas at his best with his concoctions of drug fuelled hedonism with sharp political satire.
The latest single from Casisdead’s debut album Famous Last Words. Cas proves that there really isn’t a soundscape he’s afraid of experimenting with, as effortlessly glides across the poppy instrumental packed full of quotables only Cas is capable of writing.