Skydive
by CASisDead featuring Neil Tennant

Writers - Joseph/Miller/Tennant
First released - 2023
Original album - Famous Last Words (CASisDEAD)
Subsequent albums - (none)
Other releases - none at this time

Neil appears as a guest artist on "Skydive," the final track of Famous Last Words, the debut studio album by the mysterious U.K. rapper, producer, and entrepreneur Casisdead (commonly stylized CASisDEAD, formerly known as Castro Saint), released in late October 2023. According to the Pet Shop Boys' official website, it "features lyrics and vocals by Neil Tennant who recorded his contribution two years ago after a request from Casisdead. Neil describes the track as 'elegiac.'"

Against a somber, highly atmospheric backing track awash with layered, heavily echoed synth and guitar chords, Casisdead alternates his rapped verses with Neil's sung choruses. Both sets of lyrics allude repeatedly to dead people of varying degrees of fame. This links strongly to the core theme of the song, with "Skydive" (a word that never appears in the lyrics themselves) referring metaphorically to the way people inevitably plummet, even from the stratospheric heights of fame, to death. For instance, Casisdead raps, "I hear Freddie's voice begging the radio not to become background noise," clearly referring to the late Freddie Mercury's vocal on the Queen hit "Radio Ga Ga." (He also specifically mentions "Ren" and "Mello" as among the departed, apparently both names invoking Renea Campbell-Russell, known to his friends as Mello, a former member of Casisdead's music team who was stabbed to death at a London rave in 2016.) Neil, meanwhile, sings, "Playing back some old cassettes / Crying doves and red Corvettes," an obvious reference to Prince and his hits "When Doves Cry" and "Little Red Corvette."

As Casisdead and Neil both ruminate on the deceased, they reflect on the implications this has for themselves as they grow older. Some of Neil's lines on this subject are particularly poignant: "I used to think I'd got it made / Now I start to feel afraid," and later, "I used to think I'd be OK / Now watch me as I fade away." As Casisdead puts it, "When you're young you're immortal, time moves slow / I was in the moment, blinked, and I was old." His rap even extends the concept of personal death to a wider sense of the death of art in music: "Now they call you an artist even if all you do is talk shit on beat or cry in autotune / It's disrespectful to the gods we've lost / We're raising kids that won't know what music was." Pretty heady stuff, if you ask me.

For the record, Casisdead's music is rife with references to death. It's one of the primary topics—if not the primary topic—of his work. I mean, just consider his stylized moniker, CASisDEAD. As he explained to Sam Davies of The Face in an extremely rare interview with him, "Death is everywhere.… It's coming for us all. It's just a matter of time.… It's not really a fascination. It's more just an acknowledgement of what's there.” In the same interview, Casisdead described how much it meant to him for Neil to sing on one of his tracks: "When Neil agreed to even listen to the song I was already like, welling up.… ​I know when my mum hears that, she's gonna cry her eyes out." (I take that to mean that his mother is a PSB fan.)

Incidentally, Casisdead himself doesn't appear to be the writer of the words he raps on this track. Felix Joseph is listed, along with Neil, as a lyricist, so I suspect he wrote the rapped text and Neil wrote his sung lyrics. Joseph, who is clearly not Casisdead himself—I've compared photos, and the two look nothing alike, although Casisdead is notorious for obscuring his own features —is an oft-credited U.K. songwriter in the field of contemporary rap and hip-hop. One Nathaniel Miller is credited as the composer, but I haven't yet been able to determine who he is. But it's almost certainly not the elusive Casisdead himself since he lists himself as "Casisdead" in the songwriting credits for other tracks on the album.

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