REVIEW: Daniel Caesar’s ‘CASE STUDY 01’ wrestles with existentialism, duality


Daniel Caesar, Canadian songwriter and R&B artist, released his second studio album titled “CASE STUDY 01” this summer, and it has a lot to unpack.

With his first studio album titled “Freudian” released in August 2017, Caesar worked to solidify his spot as a competitor in the music industry. That initial album won him his first Grammy for Best R&B Performance for his song “Best Part,” featuring fellow R&B artist H.E.R.

This new album testifies to Caesar’s increased prominence by including features from artists Sean Leon, Brandy, Pharrell Williams, Jacob Collier, and John Mayer. The result is an organic sound, often including multiple harmonies with an acoustic melody.

In “CASE STUDY 01” Caesar wrestles with existing in an authentic and open-minded state despite the opposing forces of the things that have an impact on his thoughts and feelings. He explains those forces as his career, God, his lovers and himself.

Caesar implies that he believes in a higher power such as God with many specific references to the Bible throughout the song titled TOO DEEP TO TURN BACK, but also states that “I’m me, I’m God, I’m everything.” He makes it known that the forces are opposing one another by believing that there is a savior that he can submit to versus being a God for himself and that alone being the reason that he pursues existence.

It is apparent in this new album that Caesar is working to diversify his sound as an artist. “CASE STUDY 01” is utopian and unworldly, marking his shift from an organic sound to more of a natural sound, a notable difference from his first album.

At first glance, those words seem to have the same meaning, but differ in a significant way. The word organic can be described as deriving from nature or a living matter, whereas the word natural can be defined as existing in nature.

Daniel Caesar talks specifically about how life feels contradictory in the track “SUPERPOSITION,” which features John Mayer.

Superposition is the concept of placing something on or above something else, often used in the context of waves. Two waves happening at the same time, coming together to make a larger wave, eliminate one another or both. It’s a concept of duality.

Through “CASE STUDY 01,” Caesar is working through and trying to navigate the impact of duality and its relationship with human experience and existence.

Through the album, Caesar is encouraging listeners to reflect upon the personal dualities that they may face in their own existence.