CANTRELL Raps About the Existential Tension of Life and Being an Artist With a Little Help From Mick Jenkins on “Crown Me”

CANTRELL, photo courtesy the artist

CANTRELL is a skater turned rapper based in Atlanta and in 2019 he released a promising yet sophisticated and fully formed EP called Devil Never Even Lived (which is a palindrome). An ear for a creative and emotionally vibrant beat is something he brought to his single “Crown Me.” The trap beat with a spare, impressionistic piano figure and melancholic drones the song give it a dreamlike weightiness that fits the rap, with a several bars from critically acclaimed rapper Mick Jenkins, about seeming to have to always be on alert from the pitfalls of life and the music business and the people who might be poised to take you out. That and all the challenges you have to juggle just to get through seemingly all the time. That kind of vigilance takes its toll on your psyche when you feel like you have to maintain it all times. The song reflects that existential tension while hinting at a hope of relief from that if only in accepting these perils and putting yourself in a frame of mind to feel how these things affect you without surrendering to despair. The title invokes the image of a checker game and how you get a piece across the board but you’re still in the game and you still don’t know if you’ll win. And that sense of realistic ambivalence strikes deep. Listen to “Crown Me” on Spotify and connect with CANTRELL at the links provided.