Cain Culto’s ‘O ω O’ brews trouble with a side of social commentary

Juggling afrobeat and electronic with equal ease, Cain Culto's refusal to be stereotyped takes pride in the blithe.
Picture of Rohit Bhattacharya
Rohit Bhattacharya
Writer, erstwhile musician, and intermittent content creator. Rohit is based in New Delhi, India. Contact: or Instagram: robohop10

If MIA were to collaborate with the perfect counterpart, it would have to be LA-based Cain Culto. Criminally underrated and brimming with creativity, there’s a liberating quality to Cain’s music that truly expresses the freedom of embracing one’s identity. Listening to their music is like watching someone self-actualize in real-time while dancing to songs like “Witchyman,” with its Halloween swing groove, is just plain fun. O ω O, their latest EP, unquestionably establishes that the effervescence of a Cain Culto song is truly something to behold.

With the first song on the project, titled “Cutting Edge,” Cain makes it clear that there are no rules in tying this album down when it comes to genres. The song manages to create a confluence of organic sounds with an electronic pizazz, but the foundation lies in its full-bodied percussion. Utilizing a mix of Latin-American rhythms with African drums, and a Glass Animals-style vocal delivery that seamlessly switches between regular and falsetto, the two combine to form a double-edged sword that slices right through the listener’s sense of convention. Accompanying the song is a music video where they mercilessly whack a Japanese daiko drum under an LA freeway while adorned in various furs and feline contact lenses. Cain’s primeval foot-stomping and playful frolicking embody the freedom they feel in their identity and the confidence in their artistic expression. A performance artist through and through. 

Genre constraints are defied yet again on “Blame The Moon,” a tune that begins with a Japanese vocal sample. Cain has stated on their website that anime, manga, and Japanese Chibi character design have been big influences on this EP, and it shows, from the drum samples to the vocal interludes. “Blame The Moon” goes through various iterations within itself that build up to a euphoric fervor, delicately anchored together by a syncopated groove. “Set me free baby, set me free, it’s a bird, it’s a plane, it’s a puto beast,” Cain raps, as a heady bassline erupts alongside a woman singing an African tribal chant. It’s almost as if Cain is creating a utopian musical commune, celebrating the earthy pull of the world’s ethnic orchestra. This song leaves you breathless and begets repeated listening, simply to understand what just happened.

A darker, more industrial tone takes over as Cain ruminates over the follies of fast fashion on “Temple Monkey,” a self-examining takedown of the supercharged consumerism of this generation. While the initial two tracks of O ω O delved into Cain’s personal artistic journey, this one appears to stem from a desire to turn outward and effect actionable change; to reflect on the state of the world. A jarring synth chord grates against the skin and Nine Inch Nails-inspired drums drive home the corrupted mechanical soul of this song. “To post a new fit pic on my feed, wonder how many kids I didn’t feed,” Cain sings in a guttural monotone. Lyrically, “Temple Monkey” rails against sweat-shop child labor, a price that’s paid for the luxury and immediate gratification of a First World fit-check. The vocal delivery is very Kendrick Lamar, from the social message to the tenor and intonation itself, and you begin to realize that this artist is at ease across most formats of the genre spectrum. This song also suggests that Cain is now able to balance internal introspection and external engagement—another positive indicator of the aforementioned self-actualization. 

The Kendrick method continues on “Sacrilege,” the fourth track on the EP. With an intro that’s eerily similar to “Backseat Freestyle,” Cain doubles down on the critique against religion, their singing style transforming to sound increasingly like Chance The Rapper. Cain has stated on their website that their music comes from a place of being othered and a religious upbringing that taught them to be ashamed of their queerness. By denouncing the harm of religious zeal and raving against idolatry, they shed their pious skin to be born again and spout against the devout. “Sacrilege” would appear to be the swan song dedicated to Cain’s earlier, deeply evangelical life.

With the bluenoses sufficiently offended, things take a turn right down the heart of Rue de Rhythm. Song five, titled “Ka-Pow,” is tethered to its beast of a bassline, maintaining a dancey edge that’ll have the listener checking their pulse every few moments so they don’t confuse the two. The afrobeat reigns supreme, and shakers, balafons, and bongos abound as the dynamic range of this song builds to a crescendo that would have Fela Kuti jiving in his grave. Boom-kapow, indeed.

The final track on the EP is titled “Gigawatts,” and it’s yet another chest-pounder for the ages. A 4-on-the-floor beat is juxtaposed with a surf-rock guitar slidedown that has no business working so well together. You have to appreciate not just the creativity on this one, but the immaculate sound design as well. It’s an almost bestial song, with a tempo and groove that was likely born out of an overflow of raw, vital individual expression. Cain poured not just their own, but the hearts and souls of their ancestors into this song, which is why it throbs with the lifeblood of elemental power. Like the lyrics, Cain’s definitely got gigawatts flowing through the body. 

O ω O takes the listener on a journey to great heights, with the initial two tracks helping you acclimatize and catch your breath. It doesn’t let you get too comfortable, however – incisive social commentary soon takes center stage, followed by complex rhythmic combinations and explosive unions of organic and electronic sounds. Give in to the call of the wild, hold on for dear life, and make sure you have a good view. Encapsulating a charcuterie board of genres, from afrobeat to gospel, Cain Culto’s latest EP does it all with a generous dose of blaspheming.

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