Daniel Caesar – Freudian – The STiXXclusive Review

It’s that time of year when the leaves begin to change colour and fall, when sweaters are in full force attire, and when although the Sun can still shine bright, it’ll play your mind (or kawall) you into thinking that it’s hot – it’s not; it’s a trick. It’s a cruel game that is played and it’s not appreciated. What is appreciated is the music that comes out of the great city of Toronto when it starts to get cold. We don’t really produce summer bangers, because that would mean that they only have a window of 8-10 business days (if we’re lucky) to appreciate them. When Daylight Savings Time hits, when the CNE closes, when the TTC resumes its consistent unreliability (right, that never leaves), and when you feel that chill down your spine because you don’t have enough money to buy a Canada Goose or Nobis jacket, it’s time for our affluent R&B crooners to take centre stage and grace us with their presence. Now, mind you, some call it Autumn, some call it Fall, others call it Cuffing Season, but really it’s Toronto Music Season.

Daniel Caesar is a name that is new for many people outside of the 416, but for those who have had a good ear or two to the streets, he’s been a familiar name that’s been associated with the spark that is Sean Leon and the IXXI group in which they share a bond with. That was my first introduction to him, and I really didn’t have the presence of mind to think that Apple Music would be backing him and his songs would be everywhere on radio, TV, and in North American households (soon to be wedding ceremonies & receptions, but we’ll get to that). He’s truly been the surprise of the city, but it’s a testament to the dedication he has when it has come to developing his craft. The last project he dropped was Pilgrim’s Paradise, but somehow that fell through the cracks. The important thing is that the right people were paying attention and here we are now. With Get You & Japanese Denim being the major hits to catapult Daniel into this stardom out of left field, Freudian is a major statement to the genre of R&B that many people (me included) have been waiting for, for a long time. Not everyday autotune, and not everyday petty. Let’s get some raw emotions that’ll really warm or break a heart or two. Tis the season, for the culture. There certainly was a lot to unpack on this album, emotionally that I didn’t think I was ready for, but I found appreciation of the album in full with every listen.

Having your biggest song as your first track on the album says something that it’s not even the best song, and that’s a good sign. You could make the argument for many songs on the album being the best (and by “many,” I mean all of them), but there was a vibe that was a positive consensus across the board, right between Men & Women – it made you feel a way in the healthiest way possible. But, from my position and current status of love, my perception is very different from someone who is going through a bad breakup or is trying to get over a past lover, and suddenly a song triggers emotions that they didn’t want re-opened. I understand that. Music is a powerful thing, but it’s a healing thing if we let it.

The first non-Get You song I heard was Best Part (funny enough, the 2nd song on the album) and as I looked my beautiful girlfriend in the face for the entire duration of it, I knew that I would be experiencing this album in a way where it was enhancing the feelings I already had, instead of ones I wish I didn’t. Being madly in love with someone, a soundtrack can add to the feeling in ways where if you couldn’t find the words to say them, the songs can do that for you. I got that in Hold Me Down as well, and that’s when I really thought that this was an album that I could just have on loop at my wedding. But then suddenly…the mood changed, and there wasn’t as many gushings of love present, but it took it to a level of spirituality that my friends Sajae Elder & Amani Bin Shikahn worded beautifully in their respective pieces on the album.

This isn’t an album that is about a positive expression of love, but rather a flurry of words that paint a picture of self-reflection in hope that growth will help an individual change for the better. Through self-discovery or assistance from a higher power, there are examples where Daniel is reaching out and trying desperately to forgive himself for sins committed in the name of love. We’ve always made mistakes, but the intent of mistakes is to grow from them. If you’re not growing, you’re dying.

There are times I think about that fateful day
I threw your love away
Every time I see that look upon your face
The same one that you made
When your fragile world was crashing down around you
You realized your place

I don’t think that I’ve heard a song like Loose before where a singer takes the position of their conscious to talk themselves into making a better decision instead of continuing to play into the toxic nature of fucking up a good thing, which Jay-Z proved not to be the way to go on 4:44. Men (yes, I’m one, so I can say something) don’t like to dig deep within to admit that they might have a problem that needs to be addressed before they go on and continue behaviour that they can’t explain outside of “that’s just how I am.” That’s not good enough, because there’s a lot of hurt being spread on both sides of the coin where a root needs to be discovered in order for healthy relationships to sustain.

If you have no patience
You better cut that girl loose
What are you, a coward?
Who are you helping?
You got the power
Then do what you said you can
And do it for her

Sometimes we wait too long to cut ties, and we end up ruining the bond that’s supposed to be setup for the person after. Things go south and what are we then left with? Hurt. That leads to bad decisions (Lord, have we made them) and then years can go by before we finally learn to unpack and rewire ourselves to right the wrongs of our actions so that others won’t suffer. Through time, confrontation, some patience, and commitment to betterment, we can get better, but you have to break it down in order for it to be built up, and this piece of music provided by Daniel Caesar is a shining example of my theory presented.

It’s the things that you say
It’s the way that you pray
Prey on my insecurities
I know you’re feeling me
I know sometimes I do wrong
But hear the words of this song
When I go, I don’t stay gone for long
Don’t know what’s going on
Blessed

What I appreciate about this album each time I listen to it, is the purity of the music from production, right down to the lyrics. It’s a complete package that truly has the essence of standing the test of time where we’ll revisit this as one of those moments in music where you felt something. Rap is the leading genre at the moment because of its popularity, but R&B still has a presence that although has been wavering in years prior, Daniel successfully provided a piece of work that can stretch beyond different groups of people to be universally accepted. R&B did that for a specific group of people, and like Childish Gambino’s Awaken, My Love! or Frank Ocean’s Blonde there’s an opportunity for R&B to make its way back to the forefront, because new talent is emerging where quality has been catered to, and not just for the sake of getting out some sales. It’s a beautiful thing. So take your time to marinate on the goodness that has placed at your fingertips. It’s a journey that is vulnerable containing elements that strip down normative male characteristics, and making it easier to come to terms with what’s really going on within. Take it as an opportunity to look at yourself and ask yourself what you could do better, not only for self, but for others. But for now, this is my opinion, this is my review,

That’s My Word & It STiXX

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