Back and better than ever, Michael Capshaw – perhaps better known as California hip-hop king Cap – is tearing down the wall between artist and audience in his all-new singles “Alcohol,” a hard rocking rollercoaster of a rap anthem; “Worth It,” a balladic hip-hop harmonizer that sees Cap getting in touch with his quieter side and embracing an R&B style we haven’t heard before; and “Big Screen,” a surreal, almost psychedelia-tinged melodic rap that is among the finest songs I’ve had the pleasure of reviewing in the new year to date. Whether you’re familiar with his past works or not is irrelevant; anyone who longs for sophisticated, smart hip-hop with an edgy lyricism that is sly, charismatic, and rich with vitality, needs to hear this song.
Scorpio, the last album that Cap put out, is an extraordinarily confessional record that delves much deeper into personalized poetry than LPs like III have, and in “Worth It” I feel like the entire premise of the album is summarized inside of four minutes that we wish would never come to an end. The vocal harmonies are utterly stunning, the production value stellar, and above all else, the instrumentation as prominent in the master mix as anything else in the track is. The lyrics are in the center of the spotlight, as Cap wants them to be, and we’re invited to experience his words through something unique and much more engaging than your average rap single would afford. “Big Screen” extends this concept even further into all-out cerebral territory, but never comes close to negative overindulgence.
“Alcohol” is blustery and pendulous, but the punch that it packs makes its obtuse arrangement not only work, but spark fireworks out of an otherwise basic list of ingredients. The sample of Joan Jett’s “I Love Rock n’ Roll” fits well the with the timbre of Cap’s voice, and while I would like to see the beats a little more defined in the grander scheme of things, his swinging bass play more than compensates for anything missing in the percussive department. I don’t say this very often (let alone about rappers), but Cap is such a well-organized composer that I almost assumed that I would be blown away by what these singles had to offer – and I’m happy to say that my expectations were exceeded tremendously.
Cap has been in this industry through multiple waves of stylistic change within hip-hop as a genre and as a culture, but there’s no sign of him slowing down yet. “Big Screen,” “Alcohol” and “Worth It” prove that he’s diversifying his sound, increasing his self-awareness lyrically, and finding the best ways to exploit his most alluring qualities, to undisputedly marvelous results. I’m very pleased with what I’ve heard in these tracks as well as in Scorpio, and hopefully as 2019 gets in motion we’ll be fortunate enough to see some follow-up material before the dawn of a new decade, and possibly, a new era for hip-hop. I’m positive that no matter what this year has in store for us, that come 2020, Cap is going to be at the forefront of his scene, ready to lead them into the future free of artistic inhibitions.