Daniel Caesar: Caes’ing the Moment

The BET Hip Hop Awards is a time when social media is collectively in tune. Whether you’re able to watch it with the rest of your timeline, or are left to only read the timeline to get the scoop on who did what, it’s a must you know what happens. As the hip hop culture grows, the awards given out are becoming more diverse, and they’re receiving more attention here and around the world. One of the awards that is beginning to garner more attention is the Best International Viewers Choice Award. This year the award introduced us to some new nominees like Daniel Caesar from Canada.

Caesar is one of the up and coming singer/songwriters to really keep an eye and ear out for. Caesar whose birth name is Ashton Simmonds, hails from Toronto. Where he grew up in a relatively strict, Christian household and community. He also had a musical background and grew up singing gospel along with his father, Norville Simmonds. In fact, his introduction to professionally singing technically on his father’s gospel album, Can You Feel His Love. The CD features a song where the two have a duet that Caesar told The Fader his dad outdid him on. “He’ll always be more fire than me,” Daniel said, laughing.

Caesar was only 16-years-old at that time, but that had to be a pretty awesome experience to be able to sing with your dad on his album. He attended the private high school that was on the same campus as the church his family attended. This contributed to a rift in his he and his parents had differences in opinion on what he was doing musically later on in his teenage years. He started gravitating towards R&B, and his parents felt as if the music you make isn’t glorifying God or of God, then it must be of Satan. Caesar’s music is far from satanic, it’s really a loving vibe. And as radio host Ebro pointed out in their sit down, “God is love!”

The results of the spat was Caesar being put out the house and school. It was an extremely trying time for him, living everywhere from with friends to on the streets. His break from home and a faith-based lifestyle was hard on his mother and father as well, but all parties involved probably needed it. Caesar said in the interview with The Fader, “We’ve all grown from it. My mom would say I’m a good kid… but I put them through a lot. I was rejecting religion and, not permanently, also kind of rejecting the things that they’d taught me, and just trying to think for myself.”

Since then his living situation has vastly improved, his vocals have sharpened a bit, and he’s becoming more and more popular due to his style of singing and ability on the guitar. Most importantly, the relationship between he and his parents has gotten much better. He says the separation allowed them all to grow, and they are now supportive of his music. Now that he’s transitioned over to the R&B genre, and his unique sound is what has everyone listening. He isn’t overdoing it with the autotune like many of his peers, so his music is kind of refreshing to hear.

Caesar dropped his debut EP, Praise Break, back in 2014. His second EP, Pilgrim’s Paradise, came out last year and he recently released his latest project, Freudian this past August. All of which tell stories of his struggles spiritually, his growing pains within his family structure, his love life, and how it’s shaped him into the man and the artist that he is today. His voice coupled with either his guitar or piano feels therapeutic for listeners, and helps them get through the trials and tribulations that they may be facing.

One of his hit singles that really will get you all in the feels is “Get You.” As the 22-year-old told Billboard magazine, “I met a girl and got very involved. She brought things and feelings out of me that I didn’t know I had. ‘Get You’ is a song of praise to a love I didn’t even feel I deserved at the time,” he said. He continued, “Being with someone you truly adore and being present enough in the moment that the world literally slows down and you ask yourself how did I stumble into this?”

The same girl who serves as his motivation for “Get You” was also the primary motivation for his entire album. This is also a breath of fresh air, all too often there’s an association with artists who are going through troubles creating their best work. I’m not into the miserable love songs though, y’all can have that. So “Get You” is right up my alley, it’s a great song to quote lyrics from to send to your Boo/Bae and earn some browning points.

Caesar is currently on tour, and sold out in Philadelphia and Baltimore. While on tour, he found the time to link up with Chance The Rapper and make a song entitled “First World Problems.” The song features Caesar singing on the hook and playing his guitar, while Chance tells the problems he now has trying to juggle his everyday life with his new fame. Originally when it debuted on The Late Show, it was still untitled. It wasn’t until after the show that a title was given. Dope collaboration for the two of them, and hopefully there’ll be a rapid ascension into stardom in store for for Caesar that will mirror that of Chance’s.

– Blake Holmes