8 of Daniel Caesar’s Best Tracks
By Annika Brandes
In preparation for the highly anticipated ASI Big Event, we’ve scrutinized Grammy Award winner Daniel Caesar’s entire discography and narrowed down the eight best tracks (in no particular order) that the soulful R&B artist has to offer. The Canadian singer-songwriter has received widespread critical acclaim over the last five years for his albums and extended plays, garnering over one million followers and over half a billion streams on Spotify. He’s steadily become a leading figure of the current neo-soul renaissance. Whether you’re a hardcore Caesar follower or a complete novice, add these songs to your playlist to prep for the concert.
“Best Part” featuring H.E.R.
It’s impossible not to include the track that snagged Caesar his first Grammy for Best R&B Performance. Featuring fellow talented singer-songwriter H.E.R., “Best Part” is a delicate love letter filled with quotable metaphors guaranteed to melt any heart. “You're my water when I'm stuck in the desert / You're the Tylenol I take when my head hurts / You're the sunshine on my life,” Caesar croons to his lover. The simple composition adds to the tender intimacy, making it obvious why this song is so popular.
Off Caesar’s sophomore EP “Pilgrim’s Paradise,” “Streetcar” is the artist’s take on Kanye West’s “Street Lights” from his “808s & Heartbreak” album. His youthful voice—he was only 19 years old at the time—is situated in front of the piano in the first quarter of the song, which makes it feel like he’s singing directly into your ear. It’s hard not to get emotional as Caesar shifts to his falsetto when the drums and electric guitar kick in. By the end, you, too, will start to believe life just isn’t fair.
On another piano-driven ballad, the singer serenades to his all-consuming love. Caesar’s gospel roots are prominently reflected in the bridge as a choir echoes his repeating declaration to return home to his lover. In “Blessed,” he completely bares his soul to express his devotion to the relationship in the face of whatever trial or tribulation it may bring.
“Hold Me Down”
The relationship he sings of is not what he imagined; he’s tolerated the push-and-pull because of the “elevating” satisfaction he receives, but now he wants to establish that this isn’t a one-sided love story. In response, a female voice enters the bridge voicing her own concerns, particularly of Caesar leaving due to his newfound fame. But the piece simmers down as the outro concludes with both voices harmonizing a simple question: “I was wondering can you hold me down?”
“Get You” featuring Kali Uchis
“Get You” is arguably the track that launched Caesar to stardom. Songstress Kali Uchis lent her honey vocals to this profoundly romantic duet steeped in desire for and adoration of a partner. In contrast to most of his releases, the song relies heavily on the soulful bass, giving it a more sensual groove that will definitely put you in your feelings. In an interview with Billboard, Caesar explained, “‘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?” It’s an essential in any love song playlist.
This commanding ode was forgotten under breakout singles like “Streetcar” and “Death & Taxes” off the “Pilgrim’s Paradise” EP. But make no mistake, this is a holy experience. The layered harmonies build towards the climactic last third of the track before thinning down to Caesar’s lone voice. The vocals are haunting, but the message is uplifting, leaving the listener with chills down their spine.
“Neu Roses (Transgressor’s Song)”
Caesar proves the extent of his musicality with his ability to toy with song structure and still make it sound good; “Neu Roses” exemplifies that. The first third is dominated by an a cappella introduction led by female vocalists. He only serves as a small supporting vocal behind even more layered voices. Then the highlight of the song arrives as the women sing, “You’re always taking my breath away,” and their voices literally float away, replaced by a warped bass-heavy beat that pushes the song along. Lyrically, it’s not happy, but we can’t help but be satisfied by the track’s exceptional construction.
“Won’t Live Here”
Released after “Pilgrim’s Paradise,” “Won’t Live Here” previewed the impassioned vulnerability that would be explored further on the “Freudian” debut album. "'Won’t Live Here' is about me trying to be the man my woman needs me to be," the artist said in an interview with The FADER. "I’m not perfect and the fact that I never will be troubles me.” Many can find comfort in the insecurities so delicately revealed on this soothing tune.