Sleep – Branded (2014)
Artist: Sleep (2-Man Cypher)
1. Question 1
2. Question 2
3. Question 3
4. Question 4
5. Question 5
6. Question 6
7. Question 7
8. Question 8
Sleep from 2-Man Cypher has never fallen short on creativity. He has done songs narrating from the perspectives of different individuals. He has even done tracks from the outlook of the devil. And with his latest EP, Branded, he takes creativity to a whole new level.
On this EP, Sleep, takes on the persona of the tragic story of Damon Winton. The story is real, making this EP biographical in context. Branded is the tale of a troubled youth that is abandoned by the system and family that was supposed to protect him. Each song is introduced by a question from a reporter to the social worker in charge. After the social worker answers the reporter’s question in dubious fashion, Sleep narrates a tale from the perspective of Damon. It is incredibly powerful, because this is real life. These are things that happen to children on a daily basis.
Question 1 relates to why Damon would just up and run away from his house. Dope Antelope provides such a dark landscape for Sleep to relate the story that it just makes the words hit that much harder. You actually feel like you are listening to the track in a dark basement. The melodies and samples are almost torturous when mingled with Sleep’s vocals:
Fuck this / I’m fucking pissed / Slit my fucking wrist before I have to sleep in this fucking house another night /I’m going to scream if I have to break up another fight / Nonsense, leaving, I’m listening to my conscious / Heart racing and beating like it’s stampede / Crying while I’m walking down the damn street / Fuck…
All down the line of this album, Sleep and Dope Antelope (who produces the whole effort) take on the difficult aspects of Damon’s life providing for a lot of power in the art. Question 2 takes on the topic of why Damon hurts himself. Dope Antelope harnesses the power of the sample that goes: “Let me count the ways I have torn myself apart…” This track is dreadfully depressing but little about this EP is supposed to be uplifting. It’s supposed to put you in the place of hopelessness. The same hopelessness that Damon Winton suffered. Here’s another somber snippet from Sleep:
…It’ nonsense, you waking up in the same shit / Still insignificant / Same problems you came with / Rather feel the pain than to feel the void / Never had love or encouragement to fill the void / I feel it boy, man, listen it’s euphoric / When the blood gets to dripping I hope it’s written in my story / Hope it’s written on the wall as a motherfuckin’ sign to / The world: You can never hate me more than I do
The next few questions/tracks tackle topics like the relationship with his mother, molestation, religious beliefs, and bullying. There is a gradual build up from a depressive state to more of an angry one. He goes from being the oppressed to the oppressor. But in the end he can’t escape his past or his circumstances. Brandon’s tumultuous life ends at Question 8 as he dies by his own hand.
Branded is not the feel good story of the year. You are not supposed to leave listening to this EP feeling good about yourself. The fact is, that Sleep has taken an artistic chance by bringing his listeners into the deepest and darkest place he can find: The life of a forsaken child. Music that means something is always the most powerful form of art. This project is not about big beats and catchy metaphors. This music is meant to make you feel something. In this case…pain. Sleep and Dope Antelope once again prove to be at the pinnacle of their perspective skills while collectively designing an album with power, purpose, and relevance.