“ALLOW ME TO RE-INTRODUCE MYSELF, MY NAME IS…FVCK THAT!” HA!! Remember that moment in the game? If you were to ask me then if I would ever do one of these in-depth reviews on a Cassper project, I probably would have told you “NO!” with no hesitation. Thankfully, we have come a long way from those days and Cass, too, has put in the work over the last couple of years to better his craft. I started noticing the change when he dropped his verse on “Phanda Mo” and then I was reminded again recently when he gave us a guest verse on the Khuli song “All Hail”.
I have never come to a conclusion that a Cassper album was solid. From Tsholofelo to Refiloe, I have always seen those bodies of work to be shockingly flawed. And he kept coming in at no. 1 on MTV Hottest MC list and it just made me cringe even more. Fvck a list, we hate lists! Tsholofelo was all over the place sonically and it just did not make the listening experience too pleasant. In fact, it did not have a staying power, but it was carried by one or two major street anthems. Refiloe was a little better but still lacked greatly as a complete body of work. A song like “Malome” showed a different side to Cassper’s music and one I thought he should explore more. Anyway, fast forward to 2017, we have Thuto. I will be the first to admit that I am more than impressed by Cassper. Whether it is because my expectations for him have always been low when it comes to his ability to give us a solid body of work or whatever, I think this album is one that he should be really proud of.
1.Confused – The opening song kicks off with some smooth piano chords followed by a manipulated vocal but still manages to give you that melancholic feel thanks to the smooth additional vocals by Goapele. So often, we hear Cassper coming into his verses all loud and guns blazing but this time there is none of that. In fact, he is so deliberate and precise with his delivery and cadence on this song that it really puts you in a specific frame of mind. ”I’m guessing this is what happens when you takeover/ too much to celebrate to stay sober” These opening lines immediately tell you where he is mentally. And then you’re invited to hear what is! I remember the very first time I listened to the album and heard him open with those lines, I immediately paused the track and thought to myself like, “This might be The Album I’ve been waiting for him to make!” Lines like “We doing okay so far/ but this shit could get better if we realise/ that all we need to do is help each other, as long as we alive” show that he is very aware, not just on this song but life in general.
If you’ve been following what he’s been saying lately, you can tell that there is a shift. Priorities have changed. Energy is invested in different things. The hunger is placed on other things. It’s different now. But that stoner reference throws me off a bit when he says, “I just wanna be as happy as a stoner after hearing that weed is getting legalised” I mean, to the average listener, that may seem like a dope line but I feel like it was a lazy punchline.
Not every line needs to be a punchline. Artists need to realise that you can still get your point across without the need of a witty punchline at the end of a bar. In his verses on this song, he was able to get his point across by being direct and articulate except for that line about weed that sounds like a 5th grader wrote it.
He could have said something along the lines of, “With acceptance & happiness I know I’ll be all right/ I’m working on it don’t wait on me, I might be all night” or if he REALLY wanted to include a bar about weed, he could have said, “Shit’s a vibe my niggas and I living HIGH/ I like to thank the most HIGH Prayers & BLUNTS up to the SKY” LOL! Word to @PrinceDwayze! I’m kidding, but I hope you get my point.
This intro song is basically a summary of what the rest of the album is about: money, fame, love, family, friendship, God. These are the main themes that run through the album.
Probably the most memorable/stand-out lines are when he says, “The other day my mom told me that she suicidal/ the same soldier who told me that I should read the bible/ sometimes we have to carry the people we rely on!” He also says “The naysayers are retracting their statements/ The first time I met SCOOP, he told me I was a star/ but last week he told me that a nigga was falling off” Now, I will be the first to admit that I am one of those naysayers. But my whole thing with Cass is that I have never seen him as a musical person. I’ve always seen him as the guy who could make hits but could never produce a great body of work. Until an artist can do that, I cannot respect him at the highest level. Don’t get me wrong, as a hustler and someone who is breaking down walls, I have the utmost respect for Cass, but as an overall artist, I am only starting to respect him now with this album. And that’s okay. We’re all entitled to like/dislike things.
He mentions that Scoop told him he used to be a star but now he is falling off. Once again, building on from my last point, I don’t think my issue with Cass has been his problem with “falling off”, more than anything, it’s been his inability to deliver great material on a consistent basis — whether for his own work or feature verses. Those that know me and are familiar with my views on Cass as an artist will tell you that I’ve been very critical of the guy but at the same time I’m the first to give him props when he delivers a great verse. It’s a love-hate thing. But anyway, back to the music.
2.I Wasn’t Ready For You – Here we see Cass revisiting the past and becomes honest with himself as he accepts part of the blame for the failed relationship with the woman in question. What has let Cass down in the past is his tendency to do too much on a song. In the past it has felt like he doesn’t trust that a song is good enough and so he compensates by adding in unnecessary ad-libs. This song, however, is not one of those moments.
He delivers his verses accompanied by a simple hook. Sure, they may have been one or two times where the flow was a bit shaky but that’s okay. Tshego comes in at the end and manages to give the song a different dimension. In my review of Nasty’s Bad Hair album, I mentioned that too often, rappers have features that don’t benefit the song at all. The choice to have Tshego on this was a move well played by Cass.
3.As Karma Would Have It – This is an interlude delivered by none other than Riky Rick. I was surprised that Riky does not have a verse on this album. In fact, besides Black Thought and Nadia Nakai, there are no rap features. Big risk, big reward for Cass. Anyway, this interlude serves as a prelude to the very personal and emotional song that is DESTINY.
4.Destiny – Issa lot, mate! This is the one that’s gonna touch the people. I say this because, not only is this arguably Cassper’s most vulnerable and honest he’s ever been but also because the chorus is an interpolation of a classic song that once rocked this country. The combination of Cassper’s take on a past relationship and the use of an old classic song really puts one in a nostalgic space.
Goapele is flawless on here. She absolutely killed this song! Shout out to her the whole time. I won’t go into detail about the content of Cassper’s verses but I will say this: his delivery, the cadence and the flows were just right. Once again, he didn’t try to do too much. He said what he had to say and basically let Goapele steer the ship.
5.Superman – This song features the legendary gospel singer Tsepo Tshola. Before even listening to the song, I already knew that it was going to have a big chorus. You can always expect Tsepo to take it to the top. Anyway, this song is Cass paying homage to his father. Lyrics like, “some niggas can’t express themselves to women, so they hurt them/ it’s just a vicious cycle/ we really need the bible/ So, thank you for teaching me to believe in the Word/ thank you for teaching me to never hit a girl/ thank you for teaching me to cry when I hurt!” I don’t know man, in our current times that we’re living in, I find those lines very relevant. Living in a time where people are more concerned about why women are in abusive relationships and less concerned about why men are abusing women in the first place.
But anyway, I digress. Much like the previous song Destiny, he once again stays on course. He delivers his verses with hardly any hiccups and then lets Tsepo Tshola do what he does best: take it to church!
6.Bentley Coupe – This is when the album takes a turn. The themes of money, fame and friendship now take centre stage. I won’t lie, when I saw the track list and saw this title, I was honestly expecting another “one of those”. Even though the chorus brags about being in a Bentley Coupe (something the public has now come to expect from Cass), the verses are layered with stories of failure and triumph.
Even though he talks about his mansions and expensive lifestyle, he is presenting it in a very relatable way. The majority of Cassper’s fans don’t know what it’s like to own a mansion or a Bentley or a Rolex watch. But they all identify with the hustle and the struggle of fighting to get from the bottom to the top. ”Off all the things in this world, I’ve got two favourites/ it’s either I’m talking about money or I’m making it/ my parents were both poor, I didn’t know what to make of it/ until I got mass appeal when being poor made me rich!”
On surface level, this may not seem like a big deal of a song but for Cassper’s career going forward, it is. I say this because, Cassper is still going to make more millions, the lifestyle will be taken to the top floor but he will need to find a way to still be relatable to his fans. In this song, he is not saying “look, I have this and you don’t” but rather “hey, look I have this and this is what I’ve had to sacrifice to get to where I am. You can too, if you put your mind to it!”
The song is full of inspirational quotables for the kids such as, “Nothing comes easy my nigga, we did the circuit/ The ICE that I wear makes the COLD nights worth it!” Or “The policy is going from a wannabe to the nigga they wanna be/ I went from a hype man to a flexible flight plan!”
8.We Living Good – This song features Tshego once again. To my knowledge, this wasn’t initially meant to make the album cut but it did nonetheless and here we are. Not much to say about this song other than the fact that it has some memorable lyrics that we will be seeing on InstaGram captions such as, ”If you ever lose it, it was never yours!”; “Women and men lie, numbers are never mistaken!”; ”Diamonds dancing, see the chain and the watch got a routine!” There is one line in particular that, if this was a make or break situation, it would’ve broken it for me: “Ghetto-oligists, yea we street smart!” Wow really?! Hayi dawg come on!!
9.Top Floor – This is the interlude featuring Didi aka @LifeWasNeverTheSame. This is the GOAT of interludes, man hahaha!! Shout out to Didi the whole time!
10.Top Shayela – This is a club banger. Undoubtedly. I like what Cass did with this joint. He had a couple memorable lines such as “Fvck a hashtag, boy I’m trending in the streets!” ”I’m Frank Casino, think I’m lost up in my sauce!” ”I’m producing IDOLS, I’m a PRO!” Get it? Idols. ProVerb? The ad-libs on this song is gonna fvck up the club! All the way to the top floor!
I personally thought the song was alright until I heard Nadia’s verse and then it completely ruined it for me. Earlier I mentioned the importance of having features that elevate the song one way or another, this is not one of those features. For the most part it was unbelievable and what I mean by that is that I found it hard to believe what she was saying. I struggled to buy into what she was selling. There was nothing amazing about her verse. The bars were average at best, the flow that worked for Cass did not work for her, the delivery felt forced. I understand the need to put the Tree on, but maybe she would’ve been better on a different song.
12.Touch The Sky – This samples a classic house song. Shout out for that! Probably my only critique worth mentioning for this song is that he “over did it”. Remember how I commended him for not doing too much on the first few tracks? I get that this is a turn up song but I feel like those ad-libs of “LET ME SEE THOSE HANDS UP!” “PUT YOUR HANDS UP” and all the shouting during the chorus could’ve been left out. It is a skill to know when to over deliver and when to hold back, this is what most artists don’t realise. For the majority of this album, Cass was able to get it right, but unfortunately not on this song. Besides the unnecessary ad-libs and shouting, this is a very decent song.
15.Baby Girl – The last song I’m gonna analyse is track 15 on the album. The sample takes you back to the classic Kelly and Nelly Dilemma joint! If it were up to me, I’d have Cass release this as the next single. It is completely different from every other song on the album. It showcases a different dynamic to Cass. It sounds nothing like the current single (Tito Mboweni) and there is more singing and less rapping. So far, he has been playing it safe when it comes to his choice of singles. I’d like to see him step out of his comfort zone.
Having lived with the album for a while now, I can honestly say that I am impressed by his effort. Tito Mboweni as the lead single off the album was a strategic move more than it was about giving the listeners the best song off the album. If anything, in my opinion, Tito Mboweni is probably the worst song on the album. But, Cass knew that putting that one out would draw people into the album because it is an undeniable banger in the club, in the streets and at the shows.
This strategy reminds me of Riky Rick’s Family Values album. He too gave us songs like Boss Zonke as the single and then when you finally got to listen to the rest of the album, you were exposed to the most honest and vulnerable moments of his life.
The song Tito Mboweni is not a true representation of the album. The only time I have ever listened to that song in its entirety was when I watched the video for the first time. The majority of the album is stitched together with heartfelt, emotional, poignant and at times, braggadocios songs. The album is about love, family, god, success, failure and triumph.
Cassper has never been the reason I attend a festival/concert, I would go because one or two of my favourite artists were also on the line-up. However, with this album, I can say that I would like for him to do a few intimate shows where he performs the entire album and shares stories behind some of the songs. I would pay to go see that type of show. Miss me with that club sh!t.
I have a few personal things I need some closure with, so dawg, hit me up!! HA! Jokes aside, all in all, this was a solid effort by Cassper.
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