Son Raw sometimes listens to Zomby, never rocks Abercrombie

London MC CasisDead spends a lot of time claiming he’s the real thing and not a gimmick, which is counter-intuitive for a guy who wears a skull mask and raps about everything from rape to guns with a healthy side of drug abuse and sales. While I’m sure the Grime MC formerly known as Cas has dealt with tough times and his knowledge of pharmaceuticals seemingly rivals that of Erowid, I’m also fairly certain actual serial killers aren’t releasing mixtapes or highly stylized videos.

Still, this is 2013 and while authenticity is a plus, it’s the music that counts and that’s where CasisDead shines: armed with a voicebox that splits the difference between a chain smoking Mike Skinner and the villain out a horror flick, he’s the rare shock rapper who sounds like his could convincingly make good on his threats, whether necrophilia or plain old gun crime. He’s got a great ear for beats as well, grabbing tracks from Grime stalwarts JME and Faze Miyake but also Danny Brown’s best kept secret, Skywlkr. Whether making reheated Dubstep way more fun than it should be in 2013 (Been Runnin’) or rapping on The Purist’s psych-tinged Hip-Hop (P.A.S.O.U), he keeps the quality level high, rare for an emcee out of a city that almost universally favors high-octane Grime.

In fact, CasisDead’s best tracks happen to be his slow burners. Spaced, featuring a Tricky-like hook by Sheg Nasa, is a post-Odd Future weed anthem for the Indica lovers, all haze and heaviness. Even better, Drugs Don’t Work, produced by rising star MssingNo, is a masterpiece. Grabbing a substantial chunk of The Verve’s song of the same name, CasisDead lists a litany of ills in the life of a drug abuser, turning up the pathos to sadboy levels but landing closer to the well-earned misery of an old blues singer. Yes, it’s borderline goth-rap but it’s also the one track devoid of slasher-flick exaggeration – allow it.

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