CD REVIEW: Big Screen by Cap
Michael Capshaw’s journey, performing as Cap, through the world of modern rap and hip hop music is a testament to passion and skill alike. The love for this music first took hold in Cap during his childhood and found embodiment in his writing of poetry and working on his budding vocal delivery with young friends. He continued to tend that passion through his young adult years, time in the military, and finally through adopting a DIY model for making those passions become a reality by establishing himself as a songwriter, producer, and performer. The songwriting and performing side of his career has resulted in four solo album releases and counting while also appearing on numerous compilation releases and facilitating the work of talented contemporaries. In his own way, Cap has already given back more to the genre he loves than some performers who have known prominence for decades. It’s an impressive run that continues with his new single “Big Screen”.
Considering the instrumentation of keyboards and synthesizer colors laying down a groove over restless, yet intensely musical percussion, it’s surprising what sort of atmosphere the musical arrangement establishes out of the gate. Anyone expecting or hoping for a full on rap song with this release will be bitterly disappointed. Cap’s approach with this song leans far more in the direction of an outright soul/R&B influenced number, especially vocally, and succeeds in winning over listeners from the first. He has genuine vocal chops and the production suits his voice and the material with exceptional clarity and skill. He’s joined by some critically important backing vocals that receive the same sort of production style as his own and their slightly joyful uplift, full of real yearning in their voice, makes this one of the better aspects to the song. It’s a masterfully constructed tune from start to finish and by the time it concludes, an improbable four plus minutes in, you find yourself still craving more.
Much of that is due to the qualities present in Cap’s vocal and lyrics. The songwriting for “Big Screen” has a relatively simple scenario to convey, but it does it with the sort of artfulness and direct heartfelt language we rarely expect from modern offerings in this style. There’s an universal human emotion, in one degree or another, powering the song’s sentiments from beginning to end and the musical mood is complementary without any one element ever sounding belabored. Cap’s vocal phrasing, particularly during the passages of straight singing, is potent and dramatic while still maintaining an even hand in how he inhabits the lyric. “Big Screen” is, arguably, Cap’s most memorable single release yet and, if we are to interpret this as a harbinger of future recordings to come, the forthcoming year or more will likely be the Southern Californian’s biggest year yet. It’s off to a wildly successful start with this song.
by William Elgin