This morning I woke up with a smile on my face and a clear, cool Summer breeze blowing in from the open window introducing this fresh new day. And it so happens that the universe likes to compliment these beautiful moments in my life by providing me with the matching music. This morning my fresh Summer breeze was Daniel Caesar’s new album CASE STUDY 01. This album isn’t special because of its features (even though Pharrell Williams or freaking BRANDY are pretty amazing ones), this album is special because of Daniel Caesar’s expanded mindset and references to physics, chemistry, neurology and spirituality, all wrapped up in a beautiful sound experience.
So this is actually a Summer breeze with a deep meaning behind it. Starting out the first song “ENTROPY” with a snippet from an interview with the American physician J. Robert Oppenheimer about the Trinity Test which started the nuclear era with the introduction of atomic bombs…that’s a symbolic statement. Caesar uses this to compare the state of the world with the chaotic state his own life is in. He sings: “So come on, baby, in time we’ll all freeze, ain’t no stoppin’ that entropy”. Entropy is a term used in thermodynamics mainly used to measure the system’s disorder (please don’t quote me on that, I tried to simplify it), so in symbolic terms it represents the degree of disorder or uncertainty within a system. In relation to that Caesar references the theory of “The Big Freeze”, also called the “Heat Death” which is a theory by scientists about how the Universe could end. If you’re interested you can read more about it here.
The next song “CYANIDE” is named after a chemical compound which is highly toxic and symbolic for the toxicity of the love affair he is singing about. In contrast to that the next song “LOVE AGAIN” featuring Brandy is about finding hope for a love that has been faced with challenges “Even on your worst day, love you in the worst way, circling around for eternity, going through the motions you’re turning me, internally”, Caesar sings.
And just as these first three, the following songs are equally a mixture of darkness and light, the challenges of life, the confrontation with ugly truths, beliefs, faith, love and fear. I had initially started going through each song one by one but I would like to take another approach instead and invite you to listen to each song yourself and find your own interpretation and meaning in it. I feel like this album is like a piece of art and it will speak to each one of you in a different way, that’s the beauty of art.
So open your window and let the breeze in.
The moment I heard Anderson .Paak’s new single “King James”, I knew this album was going to be good. The energy of this song conveyed through soul with soul and a message is both positive and strong. It makes you smile with hope. That’s meaningful and so, so relevant. So when I woke up this morning and listened to the eleven songs of Ventura (don’t think it’s a coincidence that it’s eleven by the way) I was surprised by the lightness and playfulness of Paak’s new project.
Starting out with an angelic choir and promising drum roll the first song of the album “Come Home” let’s the listener dive right into the VIBE. “I’m begging you please come home, no one even begs anymore” he sings and André 3000’s eloquent spoken poem is the cherry on top for this Sundae vibe track. Next is “Make It Better” with Smokey Robinson which is about reviving a love that is slowly getting rusty, “and it’s easier to run away than to look for what would make you stay, do you want to make it better, do you want to stay together?”. I feel like this is going to be a hymn of hope for a lot of couples, at least that would be nice. Opposite to this, on “Reaching’ 2 Much” with Lalah Hathaway, Anderson .Paak is giving up hope and talking about walking away from a relationship.
Not limiting himself to one topic, this album feels like lots of different snapshots and stories from his life. Speaking on relationships, struggles, his career and lessons he’s learned like protecting his energy (“Yada Yada”), all in all this album is much lighter than some of his previous projects where he spoke much deeper about his hardships. A feature I was especially pleasantly surprised by, was Brandy on “Jet Black”. Let me tell you, this clap-along song will definitely be played at a lot of rooftop parties this Summer. “Twilight”, produced by the legendary Pharrell Williams, embodies that 90’s vibe by the Neptunes and is a lovely tell of a mutually supportive relationship, “You’re my twilight when it’s awfully dark and I lost my way”. However, the most surprising feature of the album is definitely on the 11th song. Anderson .Paak makes Nate Dogg come back to life on this one through unreleased vocals. Ironically, at the end of the track, you can hear him tell Paak to erase his part. Well we’re glad he didn’t. R.I.P. Nate Dogg.
Fun fact, if you were wondering about the dot in Anderson .Paak’s name, according to him it stands for detail. That’s why I advise you to pay close attention to the details of “Ventura”. This is definitely a piece of work that will reveal new layers of sound and meaning with every new listen. Also, I think it’s very special that Paak used a picture with his son Soul Rasheed as the artwork for this album.
That’s it from me. Enjoy!