casisdead, the mysterious masked rapper emerging from the shadows of British music
Mystery surrounds rapper CASisDEAD. Who's behind the mask, where does he come from? One thing is for sure, his macabre musical offerings may invite comparisons to MF Doom or Gravediggaz, but there's a distinctly British tone on display.
CASisDEAD by Nick Dorey
"There's a load of reasons I wear the mask," CASisDEAD says speaking from behind his 'everyday' red hockey number. "One is that it eliminates the need for me to show off or try and be anything I'm not. You don't know what I look like. I'm not interested in the whole bragging, arsehole behaviour. That's why, most times when you see me, I'm dressed like a tramp cos I don't really care for all that. I'm not really interested in the lifestyle."
This is eerie, intense, visceral music and we think the man, influenced by Tarantino, Nicolas Winding Reyn, Big L and D Double E, might just be one of the most interesting, innovative, unusual rappers to emerge from the shadows of British music. "It's cold, harsh reality innit," says CAS of his rap based ruminations. "I don't think there's any need to sugarcoat it cos everyone knows what's going on, so I'm just telling the truth."
There are so many murders on these tunes. I wish people would stop talking shit so that my little brother doesn't grow up thinking he has to emulate this bollocks.
I was never born, I was created.
Where are you from?
My heart is in Tottenham.
I don't know what I'm doing. Sometimes I look in the mirror and wonder what I'm doing. Pillock. I'm just having a laugh while I'm here, doing what I can.
What's your life story in two sentences or less?
Fucked up. That's as straight to the point as I can put it. I'm surprised I'm still here; I've had loads of problems. It will all become apparent soon. I've got a mixtape out now, The Number 23 and another, Commercial 2 coming out soon which will have a lot of answers to the questions people have.
How long have you worn a mask?
I can't really remember. It's like the film The Mask with Jim Carey; it just happened one day and took over me.
Do you get a lot of MF Doom comparisons?
To be honest, no offense to him, I'd never even heard of him until some people started saying that he wears a mask. I've heard him since and he's cold, but it's not really my sort of music or rap that he does.
How do you describe your music?
I don't have a genre. If I like a beat, I'll spit on it. It could be classical, jungle, rap, or pop - I don't care. It's easier if you don't restrict yourself or assign yourself to one genre, you can just do what you want.
Who are you working with?
Faze Miyaki, Merky Ace, Nutty P, MssingNo, Skywalker who works with Danny Brown. Cyrus is my in-house producer
Skepta's a fan of yours. How do you know him?
Skepta's a don. He's from Tottenham, and Tottenham is very small, everyone knows everyone. I was always a fan of Meridian; Skepta, Dan, JME. JME and Skepta, they've really helped me out, and their sister Julie, on RINSE. They're brilliant man, I love them. They're proper grime philanthropists.
Which track of your own sums you up best?
Leon Best. And also City Slicker. I don't really listen to my music but that's one track that I can listen to. I'm a director before I'm a rapper. A lot of times, I have an idea for a video, and I'll shoot the video before I've even recorded the tune. I see the video, hear the beat and then write the song. The video is so important. A lot of people go outside with a shitty camera and shit lights and film a shit video, but you see it once and forget it. I'm trying to make short films. Music's just the soundtrack.
How would you describe your style?
I'm just not really concerned with clothes. In my line of work there's no point putting on anything fancy cos they're just gonna get dirty or covered in drugs. I'm not gonna lie, if you listen to my music, then you'll know.
Karaoke song of choice?
Our Friends Electric Gary Numan, I love Gary Numan.
Oh mate you'll get me in trouble now. Nigella. It's gotta be Nigella. She should have hollered at me.
How do you hope to change the future of music?
Just to get people to stop talking bollocks to be honest with you. You listen to a lot of rap yeah, especially in the UK. There's so many murders on these tunes but then you turn on the news and the statistics don't exactly match. I wish people would stop talking shit so that my little brother doesn't grow up thinking he has to emulate this bollocks that they're talking. 'Everyone's killing everybody'. They're not really, are they. I want everyone to calm down, have a look and see that it's a bit bigger than that really.
Where do you hope to be in 10 years?
Alive. If I'm alive for another 5 more years I'll be very happy. It's a long story. You have to buy the CD, Commercial 2, for that one. In fact, it's free, so just download it.
The Number 32 is out now.
Text Hattie Collins
Photography Nick Dorey
Styling Hanna Kelifa