Daniel Caesar, Case Study 01 | Album Review 💿

Published by the musical hype on july 3, 2019 july 3, 2019.

4 out of 5 stars

Fresh off of his first Grammy win, Canadian R&B standout Daniel Caesar delivers a strong follow-up to his debut album (‘ Freudian ’) with ‘ Case Study 01 .’

R&B music has hit it fair share of “bumps in the road” over the years, cooling down tremendously over the years.  Regardless, the genre has still managed to have its fair share of bright spots, including Grammy-winning, Canadian standout, Daniel Caesar.   Caesar delivered one of the very best albums, regardless of genre, with his debut LP, Freudian in 2017. Freudian blended themes of love and spirituality superbly.  Since then, the artist has had some missteps , not musically mind you, but socially and culturally .  Focusing on solely on the music, his highly-anticipated follow-up, Case Study 01 , continues the excellence, while bringing in some talented collaborators: Brandy , Pharrell Williams , Sean Leon , Jacob Collier , and John Mayer .

It’s not every album that features a song that references physics, particular a R&B album. Standout ✓ “Entropy” earns that distinction, and Daniel Caesar actually says the word on the chorus of the song:

“Oh, how can this be? I finally found peace Just how long ‘til she’s stripped from me? So, come on, baby, in time we’ll all freeze Ain’t no stoppin’ that entropy .”

Sure, the concept of entropy itself can get technical, but in broad terms, it boils down to “chaos, disorganization, randomness”; a lack of order or predictability.  Within the soulful song, Caesar highlights the unpredictability of life and love. He even manages to fuse science and spirituality on the outro: “Drifting towards the deep freeze / Thermodynamics, there’s no escape / The good Lord he gives, the Lord he takes / No life without energy.”  

The love-centric ✓ “Cyanide” keeps Case Study 01 an intriguing listening experience.  The production remains soulful, benefiting from an old-school Tommy James and the Shondells sample ( “Candy Maker” ).  Also, keeping things fresh, are guest vocals by Toronto rapper Kardinal Offishall , which brings a cool Jamaican element into the picture. As if the first two songs weren’t great in their own right, Brandy joins Caesar for the terrific duet, ✓ “Love Again.” The relationship has ended, yet both seem to be willing to find reconciliation.  Both offer their perspective on where things fell short, offering up a seemingly simple solution: “If you can take my hand / I promise we’ll find love again.”

“Frontal Lobe Muzik”

If “Love Again” was kinder, gentler Daniel Caesar, than he toughens up his sound on “Frontal Lobe Muzik” featuring Pharrell Williams .  Williams sings on the love-centric chorus, while The Neptunes handle production duties.  No, Caesar doesn’t go extremely left of center, but as he did throughout Freudian , he is more profane, uses more slang, and embraces a more ‘street smart’ sensibility.  He still retains an approach idiomatic of R&B, even if it dips into hip-hop without crossing any lines.

✓ “Open Up” is the gospel-tinged slow-jam that R&B lovers definitely need in their lives. That said, there’s nothing ‘spiritual’ about “Open Up,” which finds Caesar being overtly sexual yet also emotionally invested – “The piano that I fuck you on / Same one that on which I write these songs for you.” The big thing he desires from her is to “…Open up to me, girl / Let me plant my seed, girl / Let me fill your needs, girl.”

“Restore the Feeling”  

“Restore the Feeling” brings Sean Leon and Jacob Collier into the mix.  Caesar sings the first verse himself, while Collier joins him on the memorable chorus, adding some smooth harmonies.  Leon sings and raps the second verse, providing a clear contrast to Caesar. The best moment of “Restore the Feeling” is arguably the outro, which expands upon Collier’s awesome contributions.  This is a good song, but arguably, it could use just a slight bit more finesse to make it truly great.

Physics once more enters the mix on ✓ “Superposition” featuring John Mayer .  True to the title, Caesar bases the record itself on the idea/theory of superposition .  It begins from the start, where he sings on the first verse, “Isn’t it an irony? / The things that inspire me / they make me bleed / so profusely.” On the chorus, much like “Entropy,” he directly references superposition:

“Exist in superposition Life’s all about contradiction Yin and yang Fluidity and things I’m me, I’m God I’m everything I’m my own reason why I sing And so are you, are you understanding?”

The second verse is quite deep, highlighted by the lyric, “If I should die before I wake / Oh, please do not resuscitate / I know I didn’t live my life in vain / This music shit’s a piece of cake / The rest of my life’s in a state of chaos…”

“Too Deep to Turn Back”

“So, what’s the price / We’re like mosquitos to light, in a sense / I feed off bioluminescence…” Case Study 01 continues to be complex, yet rewarding project, further evidenced by the lovely “Too Deep to Turn Back.”  If it hasn’t been highlighted, Daniel Caesar sounds fantastic, never needing to ‘break a sweat’ to pack a punch.  Here, religion plays a significant role, specifically on the chorus, which features vocals by Arianna Reid , as well as the fourth verse (“I’ve slept like Jacob, a rock for a pillow / Run swift like Elijah, away from the middle”).     

Two more songs grace Case Study 001 . “Complexities” possesses a lovely backdrop by all means, even if the song itself isn’t as cutting edge or as intriguing as the best of the album.  “Are You Ok?” closes equally lovely, featuring more introspection from Caesar that has characterized the album as a whole.  An instrumental break signals a change of pace, one that finds Caesar addressing ‘Emily’ a couple of times (“Sweet Emily, my bride to be / Struggle with me, if I’d entropy …”) At six-and-a-half minutes it is a bit demanding, but also rewarding in many respects.

Final Thoughts

So, earlier, we said that Freudian was one of the best albums released regardless of genre in 2017.  The same can be said of Case Study 01 , which gives R&B lovers another reason to have faith in the genre.  Furthermore, this particular project gives all music lovers a truly creative and well-rounded album, one with many memorable moments. One thing is for sure – Daniel Caesar is a truly special, truly talented musician. You can argue that the end of the album isn’t quite as punchy as the beginning, but all in all, Case Study 01 has its fair share of excellence.

✓ Gems : “Entropy,” “Cyanide,” “Love Again,” “Open Up” & “Superposition”  

Daniel Caesar •  Case Study 01 • Golden Child Recordings •  Release : 6.28.19

Photo credit : golden child recordings.

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the musical hype

the musical hype aka Brent Faulkner has earned Bachelor and Masters degrees in music (music Education, music theory/composition respectively). A multi-instrumentalist, he plays piano, trombone, and organ among numerous other instruments. He's a certified music educator, composer, and a freelance music journalist. Faulkner cites music and writing as two of the most important parts of his life. Notably, he's blessed with a great ear, possessing perfect pitch.

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best songs on case study 01

Daniel Caesar CASE STUDY 01

Daniel Caesar - CASE STUDY  01


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His soul and gospel background also helps us to understand why his angelic vocals, when paired with such intimate lyrics, makes him one of the most popular R&B singers and songwriters today.


It's a solid effort by an artist who is, more or less, still a rookie, attempting to diversify his sound early on in order to avoid cementing himself into gospel music for the entirety of his career.


While there are flashes of wisdom on Case Study 01 , there are also a handful of clunky moments when Caesar’s out of his depth.

Rolling Stone

Case Study has gorgeous moments, but it lacks the overall clarity and focus of Freudian ; it is muddled from the very beginning.

NOW Magazine

One of Freudian 's biggest strengths is the way it creates a vibe and keeps it up throughout. That carries through here to an extent, but the album feels less cohesive as he stretches out.

The Independent

There’s nothing truly terrible here, but – beyond Brandy rolling back the years – there’s nothing that will make you reach for the replay button either.

The Needle Drop

Case Study 01 sounds much less polished and labored over than Freudian —perhaps in an attempt to catch lightning in a bottle—but, more often than not, the results are less than electric.

Popular User Reviews


10 People / 100 Albums Challenge: Friendship Is Agony

Subject 05: Jaye (08/10)

damn, really took a while to get to this one, huh?

Yeah, this one is boring. I get the appeal of it, its nice to the ears, its nothing thats gonna annoy you or anything, but honestly, I feel like that is part of the problem, as these songs for the most part just fade away into white noise for me. It feels like the album is trying to be the next 'Blond' or something, but instead just falls flat on its face nearly ... read more


There's nothing terrible on here, but I was so bored by the end


This second Daniel Caesar album, I was looking forward to it. The Canadian has charmed the world with his successful debut album, "Freudian", in 2017, whose sweet "Best Part", with singer H.E.R, earned him the Grammy for best R&B performance in 2019. Without surprise, "CASE STUDY 01" is a decent album. The delicate Canadian crooner dissects his moods once again, thus offering us great moments of grace, despite a vague boredom and his writing is sometimes ... read more

Recent User Reviews


eu era viciado nesse album em uma das melhores épocas da minha vida ai qnd eu ouço fico super nostálgico

The hate on this album is so unwarranted, this is such a good album.


huge step down from Freudian, nothing really ground breaking but it seems like he thinks it is?? some tracks like cyanide, entropy, and open up are good but to me most the rest just fall flat and I cant even remember them.

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Daniel Caesar – Case Study 01

  • July 1, 2019

Vicky Inoyo

best songs on case study 01

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At his debut at 24, R&B artist Daniel Caesar already had a stacked resume. His first album Freudian released in 2017 is now certified gold and includes collaborations with H.E.R , Syd , and Kali Uchis . Freudian also won R&B/Soul Recording of the Year in 2018 and his hit song “Best Part” with H.E.R scored Daniel Caesar a Grammy this year for the Best R&B Performance. Diving deeper into understanding him as an artist, Caesar has been transparent about being inspired by multiple music legends. The young Canadian artist has been recognized to draw inspiration from Frank Ocean , The Doors , Kanye West , and Beyonce . His soul and gospel background also helps us to understand why his angelic vocals, when paired with such intimate lyrics, makes him one of the most popular R&B singers and songwriters today. 

Just last week, Daniel informed fans through Instagram that he will be dropping his sophomore album. The time has now come for Case Study 01 .

The 10 track album kicks off with “ENTROPY”, a song where Daniel showcases his wide range of vocals over smooth guitar sounds and melodious chords. On this track, Daniel admits how his thought process about him as a person has transformed throughout his lifetime. Hence the following verse:

So maybe my ego's out of control

Can that be avoided? I don't know?

I hated myself when I was a boy

Now that I don't, they tryna take my joy

Nevertheless, Daniel explores various thought processes on this song which is very fitting considering the word entropy is defined as a l ack of order or predictability.

It wouldn't be a Daniel Caesar album without a few love songs. On the second track, “CYANIDE”, the artist takes intimacy to a whole new level. Not only does Daniel express his attraction to his alluring lover in detail, but, he also hits such high vocals igniting chills when one hears the song for the first time. Daniel Caesar’s sensual lyrics accompanied by a sweet melody and heavenly harmonies in the background make “CYANIDE’ a standout.

You give me your love, it's unrequited

The thought of you gets me excited

I guess I'll come to your crib, uninvited

A few of your favorite vices, girl I know you like it

Girl, you came through like ( Lightning )

You light up my life, you’re like ( Lig htning)

Danny be good? That's ( Unlikely, likely )

Immediately after, the artist hits us with another romantic track titled “Love Again” that mirrors the vibes we loved on Daniel Caesar’s first album Freudian . And as if the throwback couldn't get any better, the classic R&B singer Brandy has joined Daniel Caesar on this love song. Contrary to the explicitly sensual lyrics on “CYANIDE”, Brandy and Caesar address the hardships that come with being in love on this track.

I wake from my slumber 

I wish I could call you up

Miss how’d you put your love on me 

Boy you’ve got my number 

Wish I could feel your touch 

Wish you could follow up on me

“LOVE AGAIN” puts words to all the emotions we feel when we just can't seem to let go of someone we were once so deeply in love with, even if that special someone has moved on.


Now, if you are someone who is just confused when it comes to love, Daniel has made a track for you as well and this time it’s with Pharrell Williams . Their song “FRONTAL LOBE MUZIK” explores how strong the power of being in love can be to where it creates contradicting emotions for some of us. 

[Chorus: Pharrell Williams]

You know how I feel

I'm in love with you still, yeah

It helps, but it kills

Your lovin', your lovin'

It hurts, it heals

It breaks but it builds, ooh, yeah

Your power and your will

Your lovin', that's your lovin'

[Verse 2: Daniel Caesar]

Wanna feel it, something I can feel

I know the things that I been feelin', they ain't real

Look, my whole life they been beggin' me to chill

Got it weighin' on my conscience just a lil'

I wanna venture into the unknown

Never got sh*t poppin' layin' 'round at home

Never got no p*ssy actin like a p*ssy

Let my nuts hang, God damn, look where that sh*t took me

On this song, Daniel Caesar also explores moments in his life before he gained so much popularity in the music industry. Additionally, Pharell gives us insight into the juxtaposition that exists within his romantic relationships. Ultimately, “FRONTAL LOBE MUZIK” expands on all of the feelings that come with being in love, going through a heartbreak, and achieving celebrity status. 


As the album progresses, a few songs take a depressing yet surprisingly relatable turn. Caesar’s song “TOO DEEP TO TURN BACK” is also a guitar driven track produced by Jordan Evans and Matthew Burnett that is sprinkled with high bells to create a comforting sound to the ear. Additionally, later in the song comes haunting back vocals matched with light drums beats. Daniel’s lyrics during this song addresses the pressures that come with wanting to achieve greatness. The artist infuses his gospel background into his lyrics as he describes the challenges he has faced in life as well as overcoming such obstacles.

Good God, Jehovah, what's this I see?

My mortality's staring back at me

Niggas think I'm scared

Niggas think I'm a bitch

But I ain't come prepared and I ain't know what this is

I've slept like Jacob, a rock for a pillow

Run swift like Elijah, away from the middle

Seen the world, overindulged maybe a little

But now your boy's up, and I'm fit as a fiddle


The dynamic album ends with the 6-minute song “ARE YOU OK?” that takes listeners on a journey through Daniel’s thoughts on a break-up. The track first confronts the “happy mask” one puts on for society even though they may be battling several negative emotions on the inside. Daniel then takes on the perspective of that one person who can see through your mask and knows you are not doing your best. “ARE YOU OK?” also addresses the perspective of people that believe you are doing great for yourself despite your true emotions, hence the lyrics “Me and my n*ggas getting paper. Highly blessed and highly favored. We ain't asking for no favors.” The song takes a pause at 4 minutes and then picks back up with Daniels bone-chilling vocals and lyrics that seem to be an apology letter to an old lover. In hindsight, “ARE YOU OK?” is a song full of soul-stirring melodies that explores several feelings that come with relationships, thus making this track ultimately therapeutic.

Daniel Caesar has announced his Case Study 01 Tour that will be touching down in the United States, Canada, and Asia starting in July.

Connect with Daniel Caesar: Soundcloud | Twitter | Facebook | Spotify

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What is the most popular song on CASE STUDY 01 by Daniel Caesar?

The most popular song on CASE STUDY 01 by Daniel Caesar is “ CYANIDE ” with a total of 297.2K page views.

best songs on case study 01

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Daniel Caesar returns with new album CASE STUDY 01: Stream

Freudian follow-up features John Mayer, Pharrell, and more

Daniel Caesar returns with new album CASE STUDY 01: Stream

Daniel Caesar is back today with a new project called  CASE STUDY 01 . Stream it in full below via Apple Music or Spotify.

The new effort collects 10 songs, including a handful of noteworthy collaborations. Pharrell Williams joins the 24-year-old R&B crooner on a track titled “FRONTAL LOBE MUZIK”, while John Mayer appears on “SUPERPOSITION”. Singer Brandy also drops in to contribute to “LOVE AGAIN”.

CASE STUDY 01 is Caesar’s first big release since his 2017 breakout debut,  Freudian . That album earned Caesar multiple Grammy nominations, with his H.E.R. collaboration “Best Part” ultimately taking home an award for Best R&B Performance .

(Read: The Top 25 Albums of 2019… So Far )

According to a statement to Apple Music, today’s project followed a period of deep depression which led him to examine his own mortality. “Everything dies, everything changes— I had to embrace that,” he explained. “To not be so scared of failure.”

CASE STUDY 01 sees him finally embracing these headier subjects — spirituality, life and death — openly and honestly,

“I’m drawn to touchy subjects,” he says. “They’re my favourite.” He found he kept circling back to themes of death and spirituality. “I’d been reading a lot about Judaism and Kabbalah and meditation. And I was raised religious, so it’s like my operating system,” he says. “But I also needed to free myself from that—to live.”

Update: Caesar has announced part one of his massive “CASE STUDY 01 Tour” . Check out the itinerary down below, and grab tickets to all of his upcoming shows here .

CASE STUDY 01 Artwork:


CASE STUDY 01 Tracklist: 01. ENTROPY 02. CYANIDE 03. LOVE AGAIN 04. FRONTAL LOBE MUZIK (feat. Pharrell Williams) 05. OPEN UP 06. RESTORE THE FEELING (feat. Sean Leon & Jacob Collier) 07. SUPERPOSITION (feat. John Mayer) 08. TOO DEEP TO TURN BACK 09. COMPLEXITIES 10. ARE YOU OK?

Daniel Caesar 2019 Tour Dates: 07/11 – Quebec, QC @ Festival d’ete de Quebec 07/20 – Jakarta, IN @ We the Festival 07/21 – Kuala Lumpur, MY @ Good Vibes Festival 07/25 – Bangkok, TH @ Thunder Dome 07/27 – Niigata, JP @ Fuji Rock Festival 07/28 – Incheon, KR @ Holiday Land Festival 08/11 – Detroit, MI @ The Fillmore 08/12 – Chicago, IL @ Chicago Theatre 08/14 – Denver, CO @ Summit 08/17 – Seattle, WA @ Showbox Sodo 08/21 – Portland, OR @ Roseland Theater 08/23 – Oakland, CA @ Fox Theatre 08/26 – Los Angeles, CA @ The Greek Theatre 08/29 – Las Vegas, NV @ House of Blues 08/30 – Phoenix, AZ @ The Van Buren 09/01 – Dallas, TX @ South Side Ballroom 09/04 – Houston, TX @ Revention Center 09/05 – Austin, TX @ ACL Live 09/06 – New Orleans, LA @ Fillmore 09/08 – Miami, FL @ Fillmore Miami Beach 09/10 – Atlanta, GA @ The Fox Theatre 09/12 – Charlotte, NC @ The Fillmore 09/18 – New York, NY @ Radio City Music Hall 09/21 – Philadelphia, PA @ The Fillmore 09/23 – Boston, MA @ House of Blues 09/24 – Washington, DC @ Echostage 09/25 – Cleveland, OH @ House of Blues 09/28 – Toronto, ON @ Budweiser Stage 11/12 – Montreal, QC @ Place Bell 11/14 – Halifax, NS @ Scotiabank Centre 11/20 – Winnipeg, MB @ Bell MTS Place 11/22 – Saskatoon, SK @ TCU Place 11/23 – Edmonton, AB @ Nothern Jubilee Auditorium 11/25 – Calgary, AB @ Southern Jubilee Auditorium 11/28 – Vancouver, BC @ Doug Mitchell Thunderbird Sports CEntre


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Daniel Caesar Struggles to Find His Footing on 'CASE STUDY 01'

daniel caesar case study 01

It’s been an interesting year for Canadian R&B star Daniel Caesar , one that has been riddled with more controversy than actual music-making. First there was the moment he was called “very gay” by legendary comedian (and very stoned) Dave Chappelle while the two were guests on John Mayer’s Current Mood show. The pair’s subsequent argument, recorded live on Instagram , was a cringe thing to sit through. Then there were his comments supporting divisive industry insider YesJulz, an influencer who has spurned outrage due to her ‘blaccent’ , in addition to being seen in T-shirts that have the N-word written on them. Caesar passionately defended her but was later forced to apologize after calling black people “too sensitive” and insinuating that a victim mentality prevents many of them from making money.

It would be a stretch to assume this hasn't flattened the buzz around his second studio album, CASE STUDY 01 , which arrives with a more of a whimper than a bang — a real shame given how brilliant his 2017 debut Freudian , an intricate soul record that found the beauty in both falling in and out of love, remains. Yet in the fickle world of music, artists can get away with saying just about anything so long as the songs are good; something the talented Caesar will be acutely aware of.

It's fair to say this isn’t a record that will blow you away enough to consider forgetting Caesar’s recent spate of problematic behavior. The first half of CASE STUDY 01 is wildly inventive, filled with sexy slow jams and funky introspection, but the second half is indulgent verging on the pretentious, and proof Caesar is still far from the finished product.

The creative way Caesar switches from a high to low falsetto on the funky “ENTROPY” is a reminder of his boundless vocal talent. Meanwhile, Brandy duet "LOVE AGAIN" will take you right back to the slow jams of the '90s. The pair’s chemistry is really fun to sit through, and it's destined to become a hit single. “FRONTAL LOBE MUZIK” (on which Pharrell provides backing vocals) is a sizzling slice of summer, and the synths that kick in will give you that same transcendent feeling of hearing Kool & the Gang’s “Summer Madness” on a deckchair in August. The track is also the closest Caesar comes to underdog relatability on the project, as he croons: “Used to steal all my groceries/ now I get to the racks.”

I say this because there’s a misogynist tone to a lot of the other lyrics here, with Caesar unconvincingly playing the role of the gangster heartbreaker. Lyrics such as “It's you baby girl I'm trying to breed/ I'm not a monster/ I'm just a man with needs” on "CYANIDE" border on chauvinism. It’s weird hearing a singer who was once so empathetic to women suddenly sounding so dismissive of them — it’s almost as if he’s doing absolutely everything he can to convince Chappelle that he’s straight, with a lot of the sex talk here, which includes making love to a woman on a piano (“OPEN UP”), feeling clichéd at best, reminiscent of even more unsavory hallmarks of the genre at worst.

The second half of the album takes on a much more experimental, psychedelic tone, but Caesar is at his best when he’s having fun and not overthinking it, with a lot of these latter tracks sounding like a discount store version of far edgier artists such as Moses Sumney and Frank Ocean. “SUPERPOSITION” is incredibly indulgent, with its attempts at being philosophical (at one point, Caesar, without a hint of irony, sings the lyrics: “Life's all about contradiction/ Yin and yang/ Fluidity and things") sounding like it was inspired by the inside of a fortune cookie. The minimalist guitar of "RESTORE THE FEELING" also isn’t nearly as interesting as Caesar clearly thinks it is, with the song feeling muddled and undercooked.

Perhaps the most telling track on the album is “COMPLEXITIES,” a drugged out diary entry that sounds more like a demo than anything fully formed. Descending into hopelessness, Caesar sings: “I don’t give a damn because it doesn’t make a difference” - bars that inevitably provide an insight into his current world view. If Caesar starts to offer more by album number three, he could yet consolidate his obvious talent into something enduring, but if it’s another record created just for the sake of it, then many of the people who once believed in Caesar might feel like it’s time to move on.

There’s nothing truly terrible here, but - beyond Brandy rolling back the years - there’s nothing that will make you reach for the replay button either. It’s okay, but after the year Caesar has had, okay just won’t do.

Listen to Daniel Caesar's 'CASE STUDY 01' here . For more of our album reviews, head here .

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Daniel Caesar Shares New Album With Pharrell, Brandy, John Mayer, More: Listen

Daniel Caesar

Toronto R&B artist Daniel Caesar has shared a new album featuring Pharrell, Brandy, John Mayer, and more. CASE STUDY 01 is the sophomore LP from Caesar, following his 2017 debut Freudian . Listen to CASE STUDY 01 below.

Since releasing Freudian , Caesar teamed up with Anderson .Paak’s Band Free Nationals and Unknown Mortal Orchestra for their 2018 collaborative track “ Beauty & Essex .” That same year, Freudian was nominated for the Polaris Music Prize Short List.

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Worst to Best Review: 'Case Study 01' by Daniel Caesar, Tracklist Ranked

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Track Listings

1 Entropy
2 Cyanide
3 Love Again
4 Frontal Lobe Muzik
5 Open Up
6 Restore the Feeling
7 Superposition
8 Too Deep to Turn Back
9 Complexities
10 Are You Ok?

Editorial Reviews

2019 release, the second studio album by Canadian singer and songwriter Daniel Caesar. The album features guest appearances from Brandy, Pharrell Williams, John Mayer, Sean Leon and Jacob Collier.

Product details

  • Product Dimensions ‏ : ‎ 5.65 x 4.9 x 1.11 inches; 7.2 ounces
  • Manufacturer ‏ : ‎ Golden Child Recordings (Daniel Caesar)
  • Original Release Date ‏ : ‎ 2019
  • Date First Available ‏ : ‎ October 18, 2019
  • Label ‏ : ‎ Golden Child Recordings (Daniel Caesar)
  • ASIN ‏ : ‎ B07Z74Q1XT
  • Number of discs ‏ : ‎ 1
  • #9,062 in Pop (CDs & Vinyl)

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best songs on case study 01


After Daniel Caesar released his soul-baring debut album, Freudian, tracing his decision to leave home and the church at 17, he became one of R&B’s most promising poets, able to distil spiritual complexities into deceptively simple love songs. Then, he got lost in his own head. “I got pretty depressed,” he tells Apple Music, citing artistic pressure, social media and the isolation of fame as factors. “For a while, I didn’t want to leave my house.” The thing that ultimately freed him from his creative rut was finding comfort in his own mortality. “Everything dies, everything changes—I had to embrace that,” he says. “To not be so scared of failure.” CASE STUDY 01, his existential follow-up, is denser, headier and riskier, confronting ideas like good and evil, life and death, loneliness and God. “I’m drawn to touchy subjects,” he says. “They’re my favourite.” He found he kept circling back to themes of death and spirituality. “I’d been reading a lot about Judaism and Kabbalah and meditation. And I was raised religious, so it’s like my operating system,” he says. “But I also needed to free myself from that—to live.” Once he’d regained some creative confidence, he drafted a fantasy line-up of artists to work with on the new music—Pharrell, Brandy, John Mayer. “These are my heroes,” he says. “People who I never thought I’d ever collaborate with, until the opportunity came up and it was like, ‘Is this really real?’” Even more surprising, perhaps, was the degree to which the studio sessions felt like true artistic exchanges. “There were obviously things I admired about these artists,” he says, “but I realised there were also things they admired about me.” Pharrell was drawn to Caesar’s palette of influences—a mix of gospel, R&B, rock and soul—while Caesar hoped he’d absorb some of Pharrell’s signature playfulness. “I take myself very seriously,” he says, “and there’s something so childlike and fun about his music.” Similarly, Mayer, his all-time favourite artist, was interested in seeing how Caesar pieced lyrics together: “He liked what I say and how I say it.” “SUPERPOSITION” perfectly marries their mutual love of romantic, tuneful melodies and densely layered production. “I wanted a song that could’ve fit on [Mayer's 2006 album] Continuum,” Caesar says. “But, you know, right on the edge.”

28 June 2019 10 Songs, 43 minutes ℗ 2019 Golden Child Recordings

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A prosthesis driven by the nervous system helps people with amputation walk naturally

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A person wears a prosthetic leg with a circuit board while walking up stairs in a lab.

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State-of-the-art prosthetic limbs can help people with amputations achieve a natural walking gait, but they don’t give the user full neural control over the limb. Instead, they rely on robotic sensors and controllers that move the limb using predefined gait algorithms.

Using a new type of surgical intervention and neuroprosthetic interface, MIT researchers, in collaboration with colleagues from Brigham and Women’s Hospital, have shown that a natural walking gait is achievable using a prosthetic leg fully driven by the body’s own nervous system. The surgical amputation procedure reconnects muscles in the residual limb, which allows patients to receive “proprioceptive” feedback about where their prosthetic limb is in space.

In a study of seven patients who had this surgery, the MIT team found that they were able to walk faster, avoid obstacles, and climb stairs much more naturally than people with a traditional amputation.

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“This is the first prosthetic study in history that shows a leg prosthesis under full neural modulation, where a biomimetic gait emerges. No one has been able to show this level of brain control that produces a natural gait, where the human’s nervous system is controlling the movement, not a robotic control algorithm,” says Hugh Herr, a professor of media arts and sciences, co-director of the K. Lisa Yang Center for Bionics at MIT, an associate member of MIT’s McGovern Institute for Brain Research, and the senior author of the new study.

Patients also experienced less pain and less muscle atrophy following this surgery, which is known as the agonist-antagonist myoneural interface (AMI). So far, about 60 patients around the world have received this type of surgery, which can also be done for people with arm amputations.

Hyungeun Song, a postdoc in MIT’s Media Lab, is the lead author of the paper , which appears today in Nature Medicine .

Sensory feedback

Most limb movement is controlled by pairs of muscles that take turns stretching and contracting. During a traditional below-the-knee amputation, the interactions of these paired muscles are disrupted. This makes it very difficult for the nervous system to sense the position of a muscle and how fast it’s contracting — sensory information that is critical for the brain to decide how to move the limb.

People with this kind of amputation may have trouble controlling their prosthetic limb because they can’t accurately sense where the limb is in space. Instead, they rely on robotic controllers built into the prosthetic limb. These limbs also include sensors that can detect and adjust to slopes and obstacles.

To try to help people achieve a natural gait under full nervous system control, Herr and his colleagues began developing the AMI surgery several years ago. Instead of severing natural agonist-antagonist muscle interactions, they connect the two ends of the muscles so that they still dynamically communicate with each other within the residual limb. This surgery can be done during a primary amputation, or the muscles can be reconnected after the initial amputation as part of a revision procedure.

“With the AMI amputation procedure, to the greatest extent possible, we attempt to connect native agonists to native antagonists in a physiological way so that after amputation, a person can move their full phantom limb with physiologic levels of proprioception and range of movement,” Herr says.

In a 2021  study , Herr’s lab found that patients who had this surgery were able to more precisely control the muscles of their amputated limb, and that those muscles produced electrical signals similar to those from their intact limb.

After those encouraging results, the researchers set out to explore whether those electrical signals could generate commands for a prosthetic limb and at the same time give the user feedback about the limb’s position in space. The person wearing the prosthetic limb could then use that proprioceptive feedback to volitionally adjust their gait as needed.

In the new Nature Medicine study, the MIT team found this sensory feedback did indeed translate into a smooth, near-natural ability to walk and navigate obstacles.

“Because of the AMI neuroprosthetic interface, we were able to boost that neural signaling, preserving as much as we could. This was able to restore a person's neural capability to continuously and directly control the full gait, across different walking speeds, stairs, slopes, even going over obstacles,” Song says.

A natural gait

For this study, the researchers compared seven people who had the AMI surgery with seven who had traditional below-the-knee amputations. All of the subjects used the same type of bionic limb: a prosthesis with a powered ankle as well as electrodes that can sense electromyography (EMG) signals from the tibialis anterior the gastrocnemius muscles. These signals are fed into a robotic controller that helps the prosthesis calculate how much to bend the ankle, how much torque to apply, or how much power to deliver.

The researchers tested the subjects in several different situations: level-ground walking across a 10-meter pathway, walking up a slope, walking down a ramp, walking up and down stairs, and walking on a level surface while avoiding obstacles.

In all of these tasks, the people with the AMI neuroprosthetic interface were able to walk faster — at about the same rate as people without amputations — and navigate around obstacles more easily. They also showed more natural movements, such as pointing the toes of the prosthesis upward while going up stairs or stepping over an obstacle, and they were better able to coordinate the movements of their prosthetic limb and their intact limb. They were also able to push off the ground with the same amount of force as someone without an amputation.

“With the AMI cohort, we saw natural biomimetic behaviors emerge,” Herr says. “The cohort that didn’t have the AMI, they were able to walk, but the prosthetic movements weren’t natural, and their movements were generally slower.”

These natural behaviors emerged even though the amount of sensory feedback provided by the AMI was less than 20 percent of what would normally be received in people without an amputation.

“One of the main findings here is that a small increase in neural feedback from your amputated limb can restore significant bionic neural controllability, to a point where you allow people to directly neurally control the speed of walking, adapt to different terrain, and avoid obstacles,” Song says.

“This work represents yet another step in us demonstrating what is possible in terms of restoring function in patients who suffer from severe limb injury. It is through collaborative efforts such as this that we are able to make transformational progress in patient care,” says Matthew Carty, a surgeon at Brigham and Women’s Hospital and associate professor at Harvard Medical School, who is also an author of the paper.

Enabling neural control by the person using the limb is a step toward Herr’s lab’s goal of “rebuilding human bodies,” rather than having people rely on ever more sophisticated robotic controllers and sensors — tools that are powerful but do not feel like part of the user’s body.

“The problem with that long-term approach is that the user would never feel embodied with their prosthesis. They would never view the prosthesis as part of their body, part of self,” Herr says. “The approach we’re taking is trying to comprehensively connect the brain of the human to the electromechanics.”

The research was funded by the MIT K. Lisa Yang Center for Bionics and the Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development.

Hugh Herr, who wears two prosthetic legs, speaks to someone holding a prosthetic leg.

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Researchers at MIT and Brigham and Women’s Hospital have created a new surgical technique and neuroprosthetic interface for amputees that allows a natural walking gait driven by the body’s own nervous system, reports Adam Piore for The Boston Globe . “We found a marked improvement in each patient’s ability to walk at normal levels of speed, to maneuver obstacles, as well as to walk up and down steps and slopes," explains Prof. Hugh Herr. “I feel like I have my leg — like my leg hasn’t been amputated,” shares Amy Pietrafitta, a participant in the clinical trial testing the new approach.

Researchers at MIT have developed a novel surgical technique that could “dramatically improve walking for people with below-the-knee amputations and help them better control their prosthetics,” reports Timmy Broderick for STAT . “With our patients, even though their limb is made of titanium and silicone, all these various electromechanical components, the limb feels natural, and it moves naturally, without even conscious thought," explains Prof. Hugh Herr. 

Financial Times

A new surgical approach developed by MIT researchers enables a bionic leg driven by the body’s nervous system to restore a natural walking gait more effectively than other prosthetic limbs, reports Clive Cookson for the Financial Times . “The approach we’re taking is trying to comprehensively connect the brain of the human to the electro-mechanics,” explains Prof. Hugh Herr.  

The Washington Post

A new surgical procedure and neuroprosthetic interface developed by MIT researchers allows people with amputations to control their prosthetic limbs with their brains, “a significant scientific advance that allows for a smoother gait and enhanced ability to navigate obstacles,” reports Lizette Ortega for The Washington Post . “We’re starting to get a glimpse of this glorious future wherein a person can lose a major part of their body, and there’s technology available to reconstruct that aspect of their body to full functionality,” explains Prof. Hugh Herr. 

The Guardian

MIT scientists have conducted a trial of a brain controlled bionic limb that improves gait, stability and speed over a traditional prosthetic, reports Hannah Devlin for The Guardian . Prof. Hugh Herr says with natural leg connections preserved, patients are more likely to feel the prosthetic as a natural part of their body. “When the person can directly control and feel the movement of the prosthesis it becomes truly part of the person’s anatomy,” Herr explains. 

The Economist

Using a new surgical technique, MIT researchers have developed a bionic leg that can be controlled by the body’s own nervous system, reports The Economist . The surgical technique “involved stitching together the ends of two sets of leg muscles in the remaining part of the participants’ legs,” explains The Economist . “Each of these new connections forms a so-called agonist-antagonist myoneural interface, or AMI. This in effect replicates the mechanisms necessary for movement as well as the perception of the limb’s position in space. Traditional amputations, in contrast, create no such pairings.”  

Related Links

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  1. Daniel Caesar, Case Study 01

    Two more songs grace Case Study 001. "Complexities" possesses a lovely backdrop by all means, even if the song itself isn't as cutting edge or as intriguing as the best of the album. "Are You Ok?" closes equally lovely, featuring more introspection from Caesar that has characterized the album as a whole.

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    Review Author: Vicky Inoyo. Review Date: July 1, 2019. EM Review Rating: 8.5. At his debut at 24, R&B artist Daniel Caesar already had a stacked resume. His first album Freudian released in 2017 is now certified gold and includes collaborations with H.E.R, Syd, and Kali Uchis. Freudian also won R&B/Soul Recording of the Year in 2018 and his hit ...

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    Case Study 01 (stylized in all caps) is the second studio album by Canadian singer and songwriter Daniel Caesar, released on June 28, 2019, through Golden Child Recordings.

  10. ‎CASE STUDY 01

    Listen to CASE STUDY 01 by Daniel Caesar on Apple Music. 2019. 10 Songs. Duration: 43 minutes.

  11. [DISCUSSION] Daniel Caesar

    Must listen to songs: Cyanide, Frontal Lobe Music, Open Up, Complexities, Are You Okay, Love Again and Super Position. Funnily enough I only heard about Daniel Caesar because he got canceled, so this is the first album I heard of his. CASE STUDY 01 is one of my favorite albums with OPEN UP being the standout.

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    Daniel Caesar is back today with a new project called CASE STUDY 01. Stream it in full below via Apple Music or Spotify. The new effort collects 10 songs, including a handful of noteworthy collaborations. Pharrell Williams joins the 24-year-old R&B crooner on a track titled "FRONTAL LOBE MUZIK", while John Mayer appears on "SUPERPOSITION".

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    It's ben a rocky, controversy-filled year with Daniel Caesar, and 'CASE STUDY 01' fails to offer anything substantial enough to make you forget it.

  19. Daniel Caesar Shares New Album With Pharrell, Brandy, John ...

    Toronto R&B artist Daniel Caesar has shared a new album featuring Pharrell, Brandy, John Mayer, and more. CASE STUDY 01 is the sophomore LP from Caesar, following his 2017 debut Freudian. Listen ...

  20. Worst to Best Review: 'Case Study 01' by Daniel Caesar ...

    7.4K subscribers in the DanielCaesar community. Dedicated to sharing and discussing anything & everything related to Daniel Caesar.

  21. Amazon.com: CASE STUDY 01: CDs & Vinyl

    Grammy Award-winning R&B singer/songwriter Daniel Caesar releases his second full-length album, Case Study 01. He introduces the record with lead single "Love Again" and over a smoky beat enhanced by swells of guitar and keys, he locks into a heavenly and hypnotic harmony with none other than the legendary Brandy.

  22. Amazon.com: CASE STUDY 01: CDs & Vinyl

    Amazon.com: CASE STUDY 01: CDs & Vinyl. CDs & Vinyl. ›. Pop. $1298. Get Fast, Free Shipping with Amazon Prime FREE Returns. FREE delivery Friday, July 12 on orders shipped by Amazon over $35. Order within 3 hrs 21 mins. Select delivery location.

  23. ‎CASE STUDY 01 by Daniel Caesar on Apple Music

    Listen to CASE STUDY 01 by Daniel Caesar on Apple Music. Stream songs including "ENTROPY", "CYANIDE" and more.

  24. A prosthesis driven by the nervous system helps people with amputation

    This was able to restore a person's neural capability to continuously and directly control the full gait, across different walking speeds, stairs, slopes, even going over obstacles," Song says. A natural gait. For this study, the researchers compared seven people who had the AMI surgery with seven who had traditional below-the-knee amputations.

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