Cassius is a name associated in pop culture with the past. It was the given name of boxing and cultural legend (and Muslim convert) Muhammad Ali, born Cassius Clay.
Today, however, Cassius represents the future.
The Cassius I’m referring to is the French electronic music duo, who will be performing tomorrow at nightclub Arkham. Support is from local DJs Tessa and Lin Feng.
Although music veterans, with credits going back to 1988, the breadth and flexibility of their music scope is what this reporter believes is part of the cutting edge of current music and will be the utter mainstream for the foreseeable future.
Although they work typically in what is the underground music of the present, house, Philippe Zdar and Boom Bass started their work together producing for pioneering French rapper MC Solaar. This hip-hop aptitude has led to collaborations with Wu-Tang Clan rapped Ghostface Killah and Canadian sensation Drake.
Far away from a true hip-hop hotbed (say, New York City), Cassius’ ability to work in a medium not native or even associated with their country is a hallmark of our global Internet age.
By 1995 they had released their first album, moving into more straight ahead house music.
Big step forward
1997 saw a big step forward, with Cassius member Phillip Zdar coproducing the album “United” for alternative rock group Phoenix, again expanding their range. Although this album wasn’t a big hit, Phoenix did bring Cassius back for their breakout: 2009’s “Wolfgang Amadeus Phoenix.”
The band has also worked with bands Two Door Cinema Club, The Rapture and OneRepublic. These groups represent a range from edgy electronic-rock to clean pop.
While collaborating with others has taken up much of their time, the group has continued to put out their own releases, with the latest release of originals being 2010’s “The Rawkers E.P.”
Although these recent non-collaborative releases haven’t been as big a commercial success as their production work, they have found success in another way: through being sampled. Most notably, the Cassius song “I Love You So” was sampled by Kanye West in his collaborative album with Jay-Z, “Watch The Throne.”
The last major component to Cassius’ place as the future of music is what they’ll be doing in Shanghai — Djing. Sure, the band can’t physically bring Jay-Z, MC Solaar and Phoenix on tour to play their music — but via DJing Cassius does the next best thing. In today’s club-centric culture, we might argue it is equally valuable.
Whether they are indeed the group of the future, this Saturday they will be the act of now — at least for Shanghai. Go check them out and make up your mind yourself.