Demie Cao’s swaggering “SAGE” drips with confidence
Chinese American singer/rapper Demie Cao sure knows how to make an entrance.
On the singer’s US debut “YUNG” released back in May, she’s established that much. An ode to youth and all of the carefree perks that come with it, “YUNG” announced Cao’s arrival with scuffed-up R&B, breezy raps, and a sleek white NSX. Now, just a month after its release, Cao is back with a song that turns up the heat tenfold.
Produced by Holly (Miguel Oliveira), “SAGE” transforms Cao’s image from a carefree drifter to a sneering rapper who can pack a real punch. Channeling her “Demie the Destroyer” persona on the song, Cao reveals a side of herself that demands your attention. Here’s an artist who knows and gets what she wants. As Holly’s heavy, sharp beat starts meshing into Cao’s hype-style raps, “SAGE” becomes a slick banger. Even then, remnants of the lifestyle Cao championed on her debut single resurfaces. “I just wanna live it up my way,” she raps on the chorus–creating an unofficial overarching byline to her work.
But while Holly’s tight production gives the song an edgy kick, it’s Cao’s vivacious attitude that ultimately gives it life. Even when “SAGE” dives into a mellow intermission that comes out of nowhere, Cao remains just as cool and controlled as ever–making even lo-fi beats work within the context of a full-on party song. This confidence serves Cao well, allowing some of the song’s admittedly cheesy one-liners (“I’m in your head like a lobotomy”) to hit with the same intensity as the rest of her lyrics.
Accompanying the release is a music video by director Tommy Trinh. Featuring similarly-matched slick choreography and trippy VFX of the Hong Kong cityscape, “SAGE” and its visuals make for a scorching party song that won’t be extinguished.
Demie Cao’s US debut Airplane Mode EP will be released later this year.
Li-Wei Chu is the chief editor of From the Intercom. When he’s not editing drafts and searching for new artists to cover for the website, he loves watching cult films, cooking, and listening to his ever-growing collection of vinyl records. You can follow him on LetterBoxd and make fun of his taste in movies here!