No one knows that much about CASisDEAD. We've all got at least one knuckle-whitening bar from the masked rapper that we can quote in hushed tones, wary of who might hear us, but not many of us have seen the face behind the mask or heard his real name (it might be Casper). But if you're going to Eastern Electrics this weekend, you might want to fill in the gaps.

What we do know is he started out as Castro in the mid-2000s, recording a handful of tracks, few of which can still be found online. Then, after taking a break in 2007 to pursue other ventures, he returned in 2012 as CASisDEAD with the Dead Team (creative director & in-house producer Cyrus; Mason aka MasonIsDead; KingRico; video director ICOproductions; DJ Kyzer; creative director AfreeCanRAGE; BadgerB2; music producer WVLEWNTRS; and the late Renea Campbell-Russell aka Mello) in tow.

With that renewed energy and a new team behind him, CAS quickly started to burst out of the confines of the underground. The first big move he made after returning was The Number 23 mixtape. The new mixtape served two purposes: first as a primer for new fans, collecting together tracks originally slated for the unreleased Commercial album, and second as a source of hits that would end up defining his career and elevating him even further. "T.R.O.N", "Leon Best" and "All Hallows" all came from this release.

2016 was another big year for CAS as he released four more fan favourites: "Simon", "Before This' (with LATER), "501 (Hollow & Heston)" (with Giggs) and "Does It" (with Tricky, who said of the rapper, "See what CAS does, even if it sold a million records, you'd still have to call it underground. Because it's different. And he's not playing by any rules"). Each of those four tracks gave us something pretty different and further underlined the point that the man formerly known as Castro had a much more ambitious and nuanced vision in mind. The definition of the CASisDEAD sound was expanding and fluctuating. It's about as far removed from "easy listening" as it's possible to get and make no mistake: this is not music to bump in the car on a family day trip.

It's not just about shock, though, there's so much more to it than that. We wouldn't go so far as to say CAS has a sensitive side but his low-slung, foul-mouthed delivery works surprisingly well when set against the melodies of Shola Ama or Norwegian singer Linn Carin Dirdal (who makes music alongside producer Dominik Binegger as LATER). And then there's all the Gary Numan-style dark synth-pop of Commercial 2. (The latter of which only got two very limited edition releases on tape, only 600 released total and reportedly zero plans for a digital release). There's an incredible depth to what CASisDEAD is about and it gives him much more weight as an artist.

Though there are quite a few early releases that have been lost to the mists of time, and one or two more recent releases confined to physical formats, there is still a stack of golden material you're currently sleeping on. Ahead of his performance on Sunday at Eastern Electrics this weekend (grab your ticket here), scroll down to get familiar with what you've been missing.

This is CASisDEAD's Deep Cuts.

Photography: Jamie Drew

Posted on August 01, 2018