Review: Daniel Caesar Finds Freedom in Redemption on Debut Album ‘Freudian’

Daniel Caesar freudian cover art

“Train up a child in the way he should go: and when he is old, he will not depart from it,” reads Proverbs 22:6. For Daniel Caesar, this couldn’t be more true.

A product of the black church, the Toronto-born R&B singer’s debut album, Freudian, is very much rooted in gospel influences — from the piano driven sound to solid backing vocals from a full choir. While there is much celebration of love on this album, there are also songs of regret and sorrow, as if  Caesar is grappling with his own personal struggles with religion and theology as it relates to a past love. Perhaps, this is why he chose to name his album Freudian.

Austrian neurologist Sigmund Freud is considered as the father of psychoanalysis, which is a method for treating psychological disorders through intense dialogue between a psychoanalyst and their patient. This is the base model for modern therapy, which is exactly what this album feels like: a therapy session. Caesar pours his heart out over the course of ten tracks, re-living love’s best moments in “Get You” and “Best Part,” whilst revealing its darker ones on tracks like “Neu Roses (Transgressor’s Song).” Caesar comes out stronger on the other side by the album’s ten-minute title track finale, saying in a personal note:

“Hey mama/it’s your second son, still the same/ain’t change, mama/made some change, time has changed/it might feel strange mama, I feel ashamed/…face to face with my faith mama/I lost my faith.”

If that was his confession, then this album is his testimony.

Produced by Caesar, Matthew Burnett, and Jordan Evans, the album revels in lush sounds and vocals throughout. Paired with strong messages and themes of love, loss and final redemption, Caesar is able to deliver an impressive debut. Below are our top four picks from Freudian:

The Lead Single – “Get You” featuring Kali Uchis

The song we all know and love is still one of the album’s brightest moments with its enveloping sound and intoxicating vocals from both Caesar and Uchis. Caesar expresses his love in a song of gratitude to the woman that’s been by his side through thick and thin. In an interview with Billboard, he explains “‘Get You’ is a song of praise to a love I didn’t even feel I deserved at the time […] 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 Surprise – “Hold Me Down”

“If you love me baby, let me hear you say it/I know I’m your favorite,” sings Caesar on this groovy tune. Caesar voice is only heightened by the song’s sexy bass line and pulsing kick snare, as Caesar laments about being the undercover lover of another. What makes this cut special is the surprise, must-listen hidden interlude that’s a flip on Kirk Franklin’s 1998 song “Hold Me Now.”

Best Feature – “Best Part” featuring H.E.R.

Lead by a single acoustic guitar, H.E.R. and Daniel Caesar trade verses and sweetly share the chorus on this beautiful ballad. “I just wanna see how beautiful you are/You know that I see it/You know you’re a star/Where you go, I’ll follow/No matter how far/If life is a movie, oh, you’re the best part,” they sing. Although always vocally stellar, H.E.R.’s voice is supremely captivating here. Smart choice to have her sing the first verse, as she pulls the listener in with her hypnotic delivery from the son’s opening line, easily making this the best feature on the album.

The Sleeper – “Blessed”

On this piano driven and choir-backed track, Caesar explores the “can’t live with them, can’t live without them” narrative of his latest relationship. “And yes, I’m a mess but I’m blessed to be stuck with you/Sometimes it gets unhealthy/We can’t be by ourselves we/We’ll always need each other,” he sings. “Blessed” is serving as the B-side to Caesar’s latest single “We Find Love,” but just might be the better of the two, making this the album’s sleeper record.

Overall Rating: 4 out of 5 stars

Have you listened to Daniel Caesar’s new album? What are some of your favorite tracks? Any criticisms or critiques? Sound off in the comment section below.

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Kali Uchis Releases New Single ‘After the Storm’

Kali Uchis New Single

Kali Uchis has just released her new single “After the Storm.”

On the soulful single, which features rapper Tyler, The Creator and funk legend Bootsy Collins, Uchis expresses hope for a better tomorrow, and suggest other do the same.

The sun’ll come out / Nothing good ever comes easy / I know times are rough / But winners don’t quit / So don’t you give up / The sun’ll come out / But we’ve been struggling endless days / Someday we’ll find the love / ‘Cause after the storm’s / When the flowers bloom,” she sings.

The BADBADNOTGOOD-produced single is the third offering from Uchis’ upcoming debut album Fool’s Paradise, which is slated for a Spring releases. Previously released singles include Nuestro Planeta featuring Reykon and the sensual summer stunner “Tyrant,” which features British R&B singer Jorja Smith.

You can catch Kali Uchis as a featured act alongside Jhené Aiko on Lana Del Rey’s LA to the Moon Tour, which runs through mid February. You can purchase tickets here.

Stream “After The Storm” featuring Tyler, The Creator and Bootsy Collins below.

H.E.R. Shares ‘My Song’

Although a certain mystique still surrounds H.E.R., it’s evident she is truly gifted. The rising singer-songwriter shows off her talents on a new recording titled “My Song.”

H.E.R’s calming but powerful vocals float across the sounds of dramatic piano keys, as she sings, “Let me sing my song / Don’t wanna be alone / I know that when I listen / I find what I’ve been missing / Right here in my heart.”

The beautiful ballad follows October’s release, H.E.R. Vol. 2 – The B Sides. The mysterious singer is hard at work on her official debut album, which is set to drop later this year.

Listen to “My Song” below.

Top 10 R&B Albums of 2017

2017 started off kind of slow with R&B releases but quickly picked up as the year progressed. There were a good amount of newcomers like SZA and Daniel Caesar who made an impact on their debut projects. We also saw comebacks from R&B vets like Bell Biv DeVoe and Xscape. The Rated R&B editorial team has compiled a list of the top 10 albums of 2017.

Check it out below (please note: these are in no particular order).

Chante Moore – The Rise of the Phoenix

Chante Moore has taken “50 and Fabulous” to another level with her seventh solo studio album The Rise of the Phoenix. Her artistry has aged well over the course of her 25-year career, as she sounds “Moore” confident than ever. While the LP covers the entire spectrum of love, the album’s upbeat, feel-good tracks stand out the most for their radio appeal and contemporary sound. The album’s current sound doesn’t come at the cost of Ms. Moore’s vocals, as she showcases her range (including whistle tones!) on her most tender ballads of regret and vulnerability. Even the interludes deserve a playback! Chante Moore simply delivered, and if you just can’t get enough of this album, then her latest Christmas album should carry you through every holiday season to come. — Nathan

Standout Selections: “Something to Remember,” “Offa-U,” “Saving Grace,” “Pray,” “I’d Be a Fool”

Daley – The Spectrum

Daley is probably one of the most underrated R&B acts out now. Known for his spacey R&B sound, the British singer adds a little color to his sophomore effort, The Spectrum. Feel-good songs like “Sympathy” and “Slow Burn” will have you dancing to the rhythmic production. But don’t let that fool you, though. There are vulnerable moments of heartbreak (“Until the Pain is Gone”) and self-reflection (“True”). — Keithan

Standout selections: “Until the Pain is Gone” feat. Jill Scott, “On Fire,” “Sympathy” and “Second to None”

SZA – Ctrl

Insecurities, fear, and doubt may permeate the lyrical content of this body of work, but SZA is more artistically reassured than ever on her breakout record Ctrl. Sonically gorgeous, the album not only sounds better with each listens, but it feels better with each listen as well. Over time, you’ll find yourself liking songs you didn’t like before and loving the ones you initially did even more. It’s evident that SZA is still adjusting to the overwhelming response of praise for her debut effort, but as the only female R&B artist to find major urban mainstream success this year, it’s simply par for the course of success. If she continues to ride in her own lane, there’s no telling what destinations she will reach by the end of her musical journey. — Nathan

Standout Selections: “Broken Clocks,” “Garden (Say it Like Dat),” “Wavy (Interlude) [feat. James Fauntleroy)” and “Go Gina”

Daniel Caesar – Freudian 

A product of the black church, the Toronto-born R&B singer’s debut album, Freudian, is very much rooted in gospel influences — from the piano-driven sound to solid backing vocals from a full choir. While there is much celebration of love on this album, there are also songs of regret and sorrow, as if Caesar is grappling with his own personal struggles with religion and theology as it relates to a past love. Perhaps, this is why he chose to name his album Freudian. — Nathan 

Standout selections: “Get You,” “Best Part,” “Blessed” and “Hold Me Down”

K. Michelle – Kimberly: The People I Used to Know

K. Michelle has never been one to hold anything back, but on Kimberly: The People I Used to Know, she unveils every inch of herself in an unprecedented unapologetic fashion. The album kicks off with her rapping obscenities and concludes with one of her most soulful records to date – and in between lies an ode to James Brown, a timely Debarge sample-led criticism of mainstream media’s treatment of black women, a jazzy dose of shade to Kirk Frost (and his three or four earrings), and back-to-back country ballads. While this may sound musically sporadic, the flow of the album is quite natural and effortless. Her heart may lie in country music, but she knows how to make a solid R&B record; This is certainly her first album with multiple viable radio singles.The People I Used to Know is less about switching musical lanes and more about shifting artistic gears as the album progresses — leading the Memphis-bred songstress down the road to one of the most complete R&B works of the year. — Nathan

Standout Selections: “Takes Two” feat. Jeremih, “Crazy Like You,” “Giving Up on Love,” “God, Love, Sex, and Drugs”

Mary J. Blige – Strength of a Woman

Capitalizing on her divorce news and cringe-worthy moments that logged the past five years of her personal and professional existence, Mary J. Blige wore her troubled emotions heavily on sleeves of Strength of a Woman. Beginning with a powerful opening track that revisits Blige’s hip-hop soul roots and yields her first-ever music union with Yeezy, Strength scales between claiming back the power she regretfully hid behind the love for her estranged husband-manager to now recognizing how resilient she is well beyond her celebrity status. Blige even found time to be the right amount of petty and unleash a high dose of saltiness topped with sweet revenge over trapsoul instrumentations ushered in by a new school of hungry music tasters like Camper and Prince Charlez who wanted to see her win again. — Antwane

Standout selections: “U + Me (Love Lesson),”  “Set Me Free” “Survivor” and “Telling the Truth” featuring Kaytranada

Ledisi – Let Love Rule

Shining a fully charged flashlight of hope, Ledisi tunnels her way through all love’s madness on Let Love Rule. Even though the New Orléans native has the voice of an angel, Rule doesn’t digest well on the first or second listen. I say this not bash or discredit Ledisi’s musical abilities but to say, if you’re a frequent radio listener, this album won’t impress you. This record isn’t chasing the minute, ready to serve sounds of R&B. It’s an album that increasingly ages after each playback. With Let Love Rule, Ledisi uses this collection of ballads and melodic compositions to educate hearers about social injustices, how to present in your relationship and the power of waiting for the stars to align in your favor. She doesn’t do half bad either. — Antwane

Standout selections: “Here,” “All the Way,” “High” and “Us 4 Ever” featuring BJ the Chicago Kid

Tamar Braxton – Bluebird of Happiness

Bluebird of Happiness may universally signify prosperity, joy, and delight but Tamar Braxton’s album version has a far deeper meaning. Absorbed by samples from the yesteryears of R&B, the youngest Braxton sister uses her definition of Bluebird to share the private wounds from her dissolving marriage from Vincent Herbert. Balancing the dark and light colors of musical tones, this solid recording not only hears Braxton harping on the foulness of love but finding moments to celebrate its presence and all its other glorious wonders. While being fully against Braxton calling it quits as a solo artist, Bluebird of Happiness definitely leaves a lasting impression in the hearts and minds of her loyal Tamartian fans – for now. — Antwane

Standout selections: “The Makings of You,” “My Forever,” “My Man,” and “Wanna Love Me Boy”

Tank – Savage

Serving as the follow-up to 2016’s Sex Pain & Love II, Tank takes an aggressive approach on Savage. He instantly hooks listeners with the title track before taking them on a musical journey through the bedroom with songs like “When We” and “F It Up.” The album isn’t just about sex, though. There are moments when he’s just singing about love, whether it’s the good times or trying to rekindle an old flame. — Keithan

Standout selections: “When We,” “Good Thing,” “Do For Me” and “Nothing On”

Jhene Aiko – Trip

After making a false start with her 2016 single “Maniac,” Jhene Aiko made a strong recovery with her second studio album, Trip. Released with no prior announcement, the 22-track LP is Aiko’s open diary that uncovers some of her most vulnerable moments. From dealing with the death of her brother to breakups, Aiko takes her listeners on an emotional rollercoaster through love, pain, depression, and happiness. Trip may be her most raw and honest project to date. — Keithan

Standout selections: “Sativa” featuring Swae Lee, “While We’re Young,” “New Balance” and “OLLA” featuring Big Sean

Sabrina Claudio – About Time
**honorary mention**

OK, About Time may technically be a mixtape but Sabrina Claudio certainly made it feel like an album. Laced with angelic harmonies and mesmerizing lyrics, About Time finds Claudio singing about…time (literally). “During the process of writing these songs, I was worried about time for some reason,” she said. “And it didn’t have to do with a relationship — maybe just career-wise I was worried about time and it translated through my music.” — Keithan

Standout selections: “Belong to You,” “Frozen,” “Natural” and “Stand Still”

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