I had the pleasure of having a conversation with rising artist Casey Cope. The Bay Area native recently released an amazing new album “For Now”. We discussed the project in detail and touched other aspects of this creative’s life.
We started off talking about the current state of the world and how it has affected us and the communities we live in. Specifically, we got into the COVID world that we are all trying to figure out. As I am based in Toronto and he’s in the Bay, things are different but we shared a hopeful optimism that things will get back to some sense of normalcy. We’re both baseball fans and Casey is looking forward to the return of the US national pastime.
As we delved into his new album “For Now”, we discussed what brought it to life. The project came about in a natural way. He wasn’t planning on creating this, but the circumstances in the world and his life drove him to create it. I love this approach of being drawn to creating rather than it being a necessity. It creates more meaningful music that I believe resonates with listeners more. We’re never alone when we are going through something. Others have similar experiences. Casey is tapped into this frequency and relates to what many of us are feeling.
Being open and transparent is a major part of his music. It’s the only way he knows how to make music and it bleeds through on each track. I feel that a lot of other artists put up a front that is not who they truly are and fans can sense that it is disingenuous.
The first track on “For Now”, titled “Dwell” is a great opening and really sets the tone and feel of the album. There is an orchestral feel, thanks to Casey and long-time collaborator Big Soda. Criibaby adds some elegant vocals that Casey mentioned is one of his favourite parts of the entire album. He also said that starting off with this track was a risk as it has an unexpected sound and vibe that the average listener may not be ready for. It’s one of those polarizing tracks that you either like it or you don’t, as he describes. It takes a lot of guts to kick off your album like this. I think it worked beautifully and I’m glad he took this approach.
As mentioned earlier, Casey collaborated with Big Soda on the entire project. Big Soda is not your typical Hip Hop producer. He focuses on folk and more grassroots music, which can be felt throughout the project. This album jumped out at me as something very different than the current wave. The unique combination of Casey and Big Soda is the reason for this. Casey mentioned that he could not have made an album like this without Big Soda. They truly are a great combination that I look forward to hearing more from.
“Back Up!” is my favourite track on this dope album. Casey showcases his lyrical prowess with clever wordplay and a rapid fire flow that emcees aspire to imitate. There are boastful lines and it carries the feel of classic Hip Hop and the essence of the genre. Casey spoke about how on the surface level it comes across as boastful, but if you listen to the lyrics you will realize he’s not boasting, but shedding light to his normal and typical circumstances, that many can relate to. He’s keeping it real, not fronting. I was really impressed when Casey explained this. There are layers to his music. In this case, you can vibe out on the surface level to the beat and superior flow, or sink deep into his lyrics and get something totally different. He’s making music that is timeless. Something that you can listen to multiple times and get something different from it. I love this type of stance on music. Casey mentioned that this is his goal and I believe he has achieved it. We talked about how music made in this manner results in some of our favourite albums, such as Kendrick Lamar’s albums and many others.
The album has a wide range of sounds and genre influences including neo-gospel, boom bap and elegant piano led melodies. Casey has a Hip Hop essence, but he lets his music go wherever it needs to go, confidently disregarding the current wave or what others in the game are doing. It’s not an easy thing to do when you can see others getting success on a different wave. It’s very tempting to jump on and ride that wave, but Casey has the strength and knowledge of self do it his own way.
We also talked about live performances and his desire to get back on stage once things settle down and we can get together for shows. You’ll notice that his music is very instrumental. He also performs with a live band. I am a huge fan of Hip Hop performances with live instrumentation. Here in Toronto, we have a strong foundation of Hip Hop and Hip Hop/jazz bands that do this very well. Pre-COVID, there were events regularly with this incorporated. I told him that he would like Toronto in that way and that I would love to see him live and even have him come to Toronto to perform at one of the Hip Hop Authority events.
Casey’s has a calm, confident tone that carried throughout our conversation. He has a strong idea of who he is musically and has the vision to allow his sound to go in different directions. He does this impressively while maintaining the essence of Hip Hop from start to finish. Casey Cope is definitely an artist on the rise that you should listen to. Check out his dope new album “For Now” available at all your streaming spots.