Daniel Caesar said he was “drunk as f***” during an Instagram Live rant in which he wondered, “Why are we being so mean to white people right now?” Caesar, 23, crossed over as a mainstream R&B star following the release of his 2017 album, “Freudian.” That came after Caesar, real name Ashton Simmonds released two EPs, “Praise Break,” in 2014, and “Pilgrim’s Paradise” in 2015.
Caesar was born in Oshawa, Ontario, to parents who had emigrated from Jamaica and Barbados, respectively. His father, Norwill, was a successful gospel singer in his own right. There were four children, including Caesar in the family. They attended the Seventh Day Adventist Church in Oshawa while the children attended the church’s schools.
Caesar’s first EP was named as on of the top R&B albums of the year in 2014 by Rolling Stone. The album’s themes were love, religion and Caesar’s upbringing. Caesar has cited artists as diverse as Jim Morrison, Beyonce, Frank Ocean and Kanye West, as his major influences.
It was not until 2016 when Caesar began to become a mainstream artist after his song “Get You” was streamed over 20 million times by Apple Music.
In total, Caesar has amassed nearly 250 million streams on Spotify. His album, “Freudian,” dropped in August 2017. Caesar saw himself nominated for two Grammy Awards in 2018 and the 2018 Polaris Music Prize. In 2019, Caesar won Best R&B Performance for “Best Part” in 2019.
Here’s what you need to know:
1. Caesar Defended Controversial Instagram Influencer Yes Julz in His Video
On March 20, the video dropped showing an inebriated Caesar tells his Instagram Live followers, “Why are we being so mean to white people right now? That’s a serious question. Why is it that we’re allowed to be disrespectful and rude to everybody else and when anybody returns any type of energy to us . . . That’s not equality. I don’t wanna be treated like I can’t take a joke.”
Caesar then made a direct reference to Instagram influencer, Yes Julz. During an appearance on the “Easily Offended” podcast, Julz took aim at former Hot97 host Scottie Beam as well as media personality, Karen Civil, via BET. Julz made reference in that appearance to once posting a photo of a t-shirt that read, “N***** Lie a Lot.” Julz is a white person.
Caesar went on, “People are allowed to say whatever the f*** they want… White people have been mean to us in the past. What are you gonna do about that? Tell me what you’re gonna do about that. There’s no answer other than creating understanding and keeping it moving. That’s some biblical shit. You have to bridge the gap.” The singer added that “being a victim doesn’t get you paid.” He made reference to sleeping on a park bench before he made it big. Caesar concludes with the words, “I don’t believe in that s*** because I think you guys are wrong and I’m right.”
2. A Week Before the Video Controversy, Dave Chappelle Attracted Criticism for Calling Caesar ‘Very Gay’
A weel before the Instagram video scandal broke, Caesar was in the news as he was called “very gay” in an appearance on John Mayer’s Instagram Live show. Caesar was in the room at the time Chappelle made the remark. Afterward, Chappelle said, “Huh? Oh, I’m sorry, did I say that out loud? I’m just kidding.”
Chappelle then said, “Daniel Caesar is a musician from Toronto that I just made tonight. Black. I got jealous. I didn’t know John had other friends.” In a more serious tone, Chappelle took say, “Daniel, you’re great. Before this broadcast started, me and this brother sat at a piano and he played expertly. Beautifully. I knew for a fact that I was in the presence of not just someone that was good, but someone that was great. But the fact that I offended you…”
Mayer said that everyone on the show, bar him, was drunk. The singer/songwriter said, “Dave, people just saw for a minute what happens when you speak freely and you have alcohol in you’re working free association and you accidentally say something that trips someone’s feelings up. But you have to clean it up.” Caesar can be heard asking Chappelle, “What the hell was that?” Later, Caesar admitted that he had been too “sensitive” over the joke as the pair hugged on camera.
In his March 20 video, Caesar made reference to the Chappelle incident saying, “I just went through that f****** Chappelle shit and I had to, in the moment, acknowledge that I was being f****** sensitive and that I need to be able to take a joke just like everybody else.”
3. Caesar Has Previously Expressed His Support for Conspiracy Theorist Candace Owens
In April 2018, Caesar attracted controversy when he expressed support for the views of conservative conspiracy theorist Candace Owens. Owens had previously earned the support of Kanye West. Caesar retweeted and then deleted tweets from Owens. Caesar wrote, via Philly Customs, “Listen to the arguments of the opposition. It really can’t hurt. Can only lead to a clearer understanding.”
Prior to deleting the messages, Caesar wrote, “Ima delete these, cuz I’m no martyr but gotta let them breathe for a sec.” He followed that up with, “Also society decides morality. Shit that was okay 50 years ago is considered despicable today. That basically mans morality and group think go hand in hand no?” Just before this tweetstorm, Caesar had performed at the Coachella festival. In a lengthier statement, Caesar explained his retweeting of Owens thoughts. The singer said, in part, “I genuinely believe that you can combat hatred and ignorance with communication and understanding.” Caesar attributed his lack of understanding of the sensitivity of the issue due to being Canadian and growing up in a predominately white neighborhood.
The statement concluded with the words, “It’s my personal belief that it’s OK for us to disagree about how to fight hatred, but as long, as we don’t attack each other and we listen to each other’s perspectives, we can all learn something.”
4. Caesar Was Homeless for a While in His Youth After Being Expelled From High School
When Caesar was in the 10th grade, he failed choir class, according to a 2014 Noisey interview. Caesar attributed this failure to coinciding with his discovery of weed. In the same interview, Caesar says that he was expelled from school in the 11th grade for selling around “two grams” of marijuana to a classmate.
5. Caesar Accounted for 2 of President Barack Obama’s Songs in 2017
In 2017, it was revealed that Caesar accounted for two songs on President Barack Obama’s favorites songs of the year list. Caesar tweeted about this revelation, “Yoooo s/o to the Obama’s haha this is very exciting for me.” The songs featured were “Blessed” and “First World Problems,” in which Caesar collaborated with Chance the Rapper.
While his Instagram followers include Kendall Jenner, Jesse Williams and Joe Jonas.