Artist: Cas Metah and Blast Mega
Album: Pow Bundy
Release Date: 31 March, 2020
Country: Ohio, United States
Digital Price: $10 USD
Length: 37min 44s
We here at Cave Dweller Music would like to present to you our first ‘Cave Dweller Special’, wherein we cover releases from musical genres beyond that which we would normally cover. Each Cave Dweller Special will be selected to highlight a release simply too good for us not to cover, and here we present a review of 2020’s Pow Bundy album by Cas Metah and Blast Mega.
Pow Bundy is one of the best independent hip hop albums in years, and it comes from the Midwest duo of Cas Metah and Blast Mega. In the track Knot’s Landing, Cas Metah raps that “we’ve been spitting about god since Kendrick was a toddler” – a metaphor not far off since Kendrick Lamar would have been barely 7 years old when Cas first started out in 1995. In his time, Cas has toured with rappers like Hieroglyphics, Bizzy Bone, Celph Titled and Ras Kass, and has also worked and recorded with an absolutely massive list of emcees before. Blast Mega is also a storied veteran of the game, having toured and performed for years with a similarly long list of acts. Blast Mega often refers to his own concept of hip hop as being a P.I.M.P., but not in the way that rappers like Snoop mean. Mega’s style is ‘Politically Incorrect Motivational Poetry’, and it is that theme that is epitomised by the Pow Bundy project with Cas Metah.
That these two are veterans shows in the sheer quality of this album. There is no filler here – just twelve solid, well-written, memorable tracks. Albums in the hip hop world (and other genres too) often tend to be loaded up with 20+ tracks, many of which can be filler, and end up dragging down what would otherwise be a higher quality release overall. Not so with Cas Metah & Blast Mega – Pow Bundy is an excellent release from top to bottom, mixed and mastered by E21 who also provided the beats, with scratches by Tobe ‘Tobotius’ Donahue of The Animal Crackers.
The track It’s Pow Bundy serves as a good intro to those unacquainted with Cas Metah and Blast Mega, but also serves as a sort of thematic grounding for the album overall. Cas Metah’s first verse is essentially an introduction to the man himself. An indy rapper with some serious cred in the game, Cas is not shy about having been underground that long. We hear about his busted car & home, lack of staff to support him, and how throughout all of that, he has maintained a sense of integrity – “I could make a buck if I made a couple club hits/but I been pinching pennies since 50 Cent was hustling”.
The more autobiographical aspects of this track really show how smart Cas Metah and Blast Mega were to bring the ‘blue collar’ concept in by way of Married with Children and more specifically, Al Bundy. Al Bundy in that show is a sort of blue-collar everyman. He is a bit crude; he drinks a lot; he is frustrated with his living situation and regularly has conflicts with people around him. But like the members of Pow Bundy, he is a king in his own way. He hustles as much as he can to provide for the people, he cares about no matter how frustrated he might be. He is not the wealthiest guy, he does not have all the drip, he’s vulgar as hell.
Blast Mega really hits hard on this aspect too, giving bars that blur the line, making it difficult to tell whether he is talking about Al Bundy or himself. Bars like “I’m contrary to popular opinion/no lean, no skinny jeans, no pharmacy prescriptions” tell us that really, he is rapping about both. Yet despite everything there is a hardworking, authentic, respectability about him. Mega does not stop there though, criticising those that have become isolated from ordinary people, losing their authenticity and blue-collar credibility through their riches, success, and all that drip “No contradiction, conflicts of interest, calling yourself a thug but dressing like a princess.” Cas and Mega, by contrast, show how one can be successful without losing their connections. They took the hard road to success – becoming accomplished and respected rappers in their own rights without having to sacrifice their integrity.
They may not be flaunting Dom Perignon and Rolexes, but they take pride in that fact, Mega rapping about how this was “written by the stove/composed in Louie’s kitchen/smell the stench of my clothes”. This is followed up of course with some great bars breaking down the aspects of his own appearance after all that he is been through. Blast Mega really tightens up that theme, regularly linking himself into Cas Metah’s bars & the blue-collar vibe with bars about how difficult life can be grinding all the time while still maintaining a sense of strength, a king in one’s own way despite not necessarily having the money to show it but having a wealth of skill and respect instead.
True to that vibe, there are a variety of social and political commentaries throughout the album. This is after all touted by Cas and Mega as conscious hip hop. From the autobiographical feel of It’s Pow Bundy complete with its critique of socially disconnected rappers, to the criticism of the media and food policy in Panic, to tracks like Trauma which discuss police brutality and racism, and more. That track, Trauma, hits pretty hard and was incredibly well-timed given the release date of this album only two months before the murder of George Floyd. Check these bars from Blast Mega in Trauma:
Then I asked him,
What exactly are you stopping me for?
He said, ‘your description fits the nigga that just robbed the store’
I said, ‘nigga?’
‘Yeah nigga! Did you hear me stutter?
All you niggers are the same, I feel sorry for your mothers!
Couldn’t believe it, that’s when I felt the pavement on my face
Then he hit me with mace, and called for backup
Said I was resisting arrest, handcuffed me
turned me over, put his knee on my chest
My face bleeding, I’m having a hard time seeing,
and with his wing on my chest, I can’t catch my breath
I started wheezing, peopled gathered around
It is incredible how on-point this track is for out times, and really speaks to the intelligence and ability of Cas Metah and Blast Mega to construct tracks this good, performed this well, that are completely relevant not just to our times, but to times past and future as well. The two continue similar themes in Beware Wolves, this time criticising the social aspects of racism that lead to the issues they rap about in Trauma. Hard hitting bars set to E21’s masterful selection of beats really pushes this album to the next level, and while not every track is as dark as one like Trauma, they are all as thoughtful as they are enjoyable.
Some of these samples are brilliantly chosen to complement the lyrics as well. For instance, in the track ‘Murica, we have some beats reminiscent of the Chinatown sort of flavor the Wu-Tang Clan is known for that ground the track in the diversity of the United States, whose government the track is quite critical of. Not only that, but the ‘puppet on a string’ sample of B-Real harkens back to some oldschool fire from a DJ Muggs track called Puppet Master (that also featured Dr. Dre) from the Soul Assassins project. This is a really cool callback to other rappers and isn’t the only one present in the Pow Bundy album.
There are also some other great callbacks, such as Blast Mega’s ‘dead in the middle of little Italy with no middle men’ line in Knot’s Landing, a nice little reference to an all-time great, Big Pun, rapping the same line in the classic track Twinz with Fat Joe. Balcony Music has a nice little reference to the hip hop OG from Brooklyn himself, Jeru the Damaja, in its chorus. These sorts of references are not strictly necessary but Cas Metah and Blast Mega work them in in a way that doesn’t feel gratuitous, but instead gives the album a grounded feel.
Worth pointing out is that Cas Metah & Blast Mega performed much of this album live in the Big Room in Columbus, Ohio on CD 92.9FM, a performance that you can watch yourself on YouTube. Performing live the chemistry between the two is immediately obvious, and the Married With Children elements become even more obvious here with a intro featuring the two sat on the couch, hand in the pants, Al Bundy style. Cas also demonstrates his technical ability throughout the album, regularly giving us some more detailed schemes that continue across several bars, keeping up a tight flow which can sometimes edge towards a more fast-paced style as in the track Panic. Blast Mega, similarly, is captivating on the mic, and both of their performances of these tracks live really shows that they are not just the result of good production in the studio.
This is an album with plenty of depth for even the most seasoned hip hop head to sink their teeth into, complete with some dope laid back beats by E21. If you are new to hip hop and have not heard what underground/independent rappers can offer, Pow Bundy is for you, being one of the best such albums in years. If you are a seasoned veteran of hip hop, there is much for you here too between skilful mic-work and quality bars set to great beats and scratching throughout. Do not miss this one.
I hope you enjoy Pow Bundy.
LISTEN TO THE ALBUM:
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Linktree (for all their links)
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Cas Metah Official Website
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Cas Metah on Facebook
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Blast Mega on SoundCloud
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