“I Didn’t Mean To Haunt You,” an album by Quadeca that bends sounds, genres, and themes of death, grief, depression, and suicide with the maturity of a seasoned musical veteran, was done by a twenty-two-year-old former YouTube rapper. Quadeca is known for his “styles of rap” YouTube videos and came to fame through drama with fellow YouTuber KSI and his mainly music-focused content that began to become extremely popular.
Quadeca dropped a few projects, though none attained any sort of notoriety other than his 2021 divisive album titled “From Me to You”: it was loved by many of his fans. Still, the critiques were also highly prevalent with people in the music community who expected more. It sits at a user score of 72 out of 100 on Album of the Year with the main complaints being that it felt bloated, boring, and not experimental enough. I personally was a big fan of Quadeca’s YouTube content but found the project generally forgettable other than a few songs like “Sisyphus” and “Candles on Fire!” where I could see real talent coming through paired with the incredible production.
When Quadeca released “I Didn’t Mean To Haunt You,” I was ecstatic due to the unmatched singles released before — “born yesterday” and “tell me a joke” — which truly showed Quadeca’s full transformation into whatever style the best bits of “From Me To You” proved. I began to listen to the album and every single song stuck out as a groundbreaking creative achievement; I haven’t stopped listening to the project since. Quadeca has outdone his creative potential and created a fully self-produced and written album of the year contender. So to pay respect to the beautiful piece of work that is “I Didn’t Mean To Haunt You,” I thought I would break down the heartbreaking sonic journey told track by track.
TRIGGER WARNING: GRAPHIC THEMES OF SUICIDE AND DEATH THROUGHOUT
The album starts with “sorry4dying” and immediately the listener is greeted with impressive production of repetition of piano and horns in the first thirty seconds. Quad immediately lets you know what this album is about “Fuel tank blink/It’s been runnin’ in the red/Praying for a green light, looking straight ahead” The narrator’s mental health and life are running out of fuel: the “Fuel tank blink” signal which usually indicates that a car is low on gas. He asks for a “green light” or a signal that indicates it’s okay for him to go forward and commit suicide. The narrator, who for the rest of the review I will call Ben due to Quadecca’s real name being Benjamin and me being too lazy to write “the narrator” every time, states “I had God stuck in between my hands.” He uses the concept of “playing with god” to state that he is holding something capable of taking his life. “So am I not a ghost? Passin’ through these walls I used to call home” confirms Ben has taken his life and is revisiting his childhood home which is where the majority of the album takes place. “Reach through the walls, I tried to scream, it won’t come out Sorry for dying, I just wanna hold you without haunting” refers back to the title of the album Ben wishes nothing but for his family to quickly move on from his death; this idea shifts and changes throughout the runtime of the album. Specifically, his mother who he repeatedly wishes is okay after his suicide.
Track two “tell me a joke” starts with simple joke setups with no punchline “Knock knock, who’s there? I wanna know” By telling these jokes and not giving an answer, you wonder who’s at the door to talk to Ben? Or is it anyone? Ben begins to see how his family and friends react to his death and states “Laughin’ at you, I had so many things left to do/And it’s funny, you said it’s too soon.” Ben feels as if it’s unfair that his family and friends saw no signs of his declining mental health and finds it funny that they say it was “too soon.” “All I could hear were the crickets/Funny the joke is on me, I tried hard not to miss it everything I couldn’t be/Ha-ha/Laugh to the grave.” These lines are some of the most important on the album as Ben talks about how lonely the afterlife is because all he can hear are “crickets” and he considers the fact that he committed suicide was funny and “the easy way out” the “joke is on” him as he finds it dumb he is in the afterlife and not with his family. After some more lines talking about how he felt his entire life was a joke, the song ends with a perfect explosion of sounds and instrumentals.
“don’t mind me” is an important track in order to understand the environment Ben is in. “Don’t mind me, I’m somewhere in between/Closed eyes and a dream” and “A coma and some anesthesia” all of which gives a perfect description of the lifelessness and purgatory Ben is in. It’s somewhere in between heaven and hell, a lifeless and empty void. “Opening boxes looking for closure/You point to the sky if only you knew I’m so much closer/Yeah it’s alright I’m right by your side just over your shoulder.” Ben returns to his childhood home and finds his mom reminiscing through his old boxes and grieving. He comforts his mother and tries to let her know that he’s right by her in the afterlife; however, he isn’t in heaven and is much closer to hell or the ground. Later in the song, he tries to scream at her “Close the boxes, put that shit in the attic” where he attempts to force her to stop thinking about him, to move on. It’s another force of nature setting up not only the environment that Ben as a character is stuck in but also the soundscapes that the album will take place in.
The next track, “picking up hands,” is incredibly self-reminiscent of childhood. He sings “It’s that room, it’s the wall, it’s the poster and all…It’s the shadowy weight and the footsteps I take/Made a mark through the dust on the floor/And I saw my mother’s eyes for the second time.” It’s a lot. But Ben looks into his old room and sees things he remembers while roaming the halls he sees his “mother’s eyes for the second time,” a reference to being born and the second time with his death. “Same carpet I crawled in, Same bucket I was washed in I gave all that time to you…I need you there with me, I need you just down the hall” finds Ben unpacking the things his mother was always there for — how he wishes she was with him in the afterlife. When Ben states, “And I call, but the dog runs away from me now,” he finds the dog is the only thing that recognizes his presence as he wishes his entire family could be with him, to notice him.
Track number four was the first single released. “born yesterday” is a fairly simple song in the chronological journey of this album. Immediately, he states that he “wasn’t born yesterday” and believes his mother is “lyin” about being okay and coping with Ben’s death. Quadeca samples The Beatles’ song “For No One” where the line “You want her you need her and yet you don’t believe her” is used throughout the song and works to symbolize how Ben wants his mother to join the afterlife with him; yet he can’t even believe that she’s moving on with his passing. With “You said I’m in a better place. I got a new birthday to celebrate,” Ben reinforces his annoyance that his mother is thinking he’s in a better place. The reality is that he is in purgatory. He has a “new birthday”: his death date. “I’ve been in so many tears, I try my best not to count it…I’ve been in so many couches, I’ve been in so many lies, I’ve lived so many lives.” Ben is in whatever state of an afterlife he is in for a while now. He has had the chance to go to many different places and see how they are handling his death.
The most important track and darkest one by far is “house settling.” It features American rapper Danny Brown who raps from the perspective of carbon monoxide gas. Yeah. Ben sings, “I’ve been alone since you left me in your wake”: wake as in coming out of sleep, disturbing the water, and, of course, holding a vigil. With Ben stating his family has left him in his wake, he believes his family has grieved too quickly and he wishes he wasn’t so alone and trapped. He goes on to say, “I was begging you not to breathe in/Tried to yell at you from a distance/Could you tell when you let me seep in?” It’s a line with significance here and later. “Put my feet on the floor over each, every board heard a creak, turning weak turn the heat up some more…You said It’s house settling” finds Ben walking around his house in order to try and gain the attention of his mother. As he walks, he brings a chill with him. However she brushes it off as just “house settling” and ups the heat in order to ignore it. She later says it’s just “a howl in the wind” and Ben begins to become angry and yell “rationalize me away if it helps,” believing that his mother is attempting to forget about him and ignore his signs. Ben repeats in the chorus “dead to me” instead of “dead to you” which would make more sense in the context considering Ben quite literally is physically dead to his family; but Ben is stating that his family is dead to him. They’re moving on too quickly. All the lines “let you breathe,” “you been dizzy,” and “I feel guilty, I feel guilty/I can’t say why/Words you see through the CO breaks my heart/but I’ll give it a try” show that Ben is going to attempt to let the carbon monoxide gas seep into his mother’s home in order to kill her. It’s a desperate hope that she will join the afterlife with him. You can hear the lines “What else am I supposed to do/Didn’t want to cause pain to you/Just make my presence known/Until it’s set in stone” are whispered behind the chorus before Danny Brown’s feature comes in. They also imply Ben didn’t want to hurt his family or kill them until he realized how quickly he had left their mind. Ben has now done the exact thing that the album’s title warns against. He’s haunting so that his family will be with him. Danny Brown’s incredible guest verse begins with “No, you can’t see me/But when you smell me we going off on a deep sleep when you inhale me/No you won’t feel me/We, we going down six feet” are dark lyrics but help confirm that Danny Brown is CO gas in this verse, the gas attempting to leak into the house and kill his mother. Brown’s feature continues with “Ain’t tryna gas you out, but right now, that’s what’s happening…fresh out the stove/It’s all over.” At the end of Danny’s verse, he declares, “You’re dead to me, say R.I.P/You’re dead to me just go to sleep,” a call back to the “dead to me” lines throughout the chorus. While it is unclear whether or not the gas actually did kill his mother and family, the song nonetheless shows Ben’s true intentions and how selfish he has become since his death. It’s also sonically dense, impressive in both production and vocals. It’s the best of the album.
After is the strange track “knots,” one of the harshest sounding off the album and almost definitely inspired by the experimental sound rap group Death Grips. “I walk around with knots on my neck and my chest” is a key line repeated multiple times throughout the song with some variation. Knots refers to two things: the issues or problems that Ben walked around with his whole life that no one noticed and the literal rope that is tied in a knot and around his neck from suicide by hanging. The fact that he still walks around with his knots shows his problems didn’t leave him after death and he still faces the same issues he did when he was alive. “I’m a/I’m a open book in a closed casket” repeats and signifies that he continues to make music past his death and is open about his feelings and life experience now that his life is over. “Walked down the aisle, holding back a smile how many years?” This one works two ways: Ben is either referring to walking down the aisle of his wedding and regretting it by saying the years he spent married were useless. (This would also refer to “tying the knot” as a figurative saying when talking about engagement or marriage.) It also works as an image of his family walking down the aisle of his funeral and holding back a smile showing they never really cared about him. The first interpretation works better. He continues, “You told a story and you got to my name and it made you flinch I became your stutter/I became a knot, I became a glitch” whenever anyone mentions Ben’s name they feel as if they have a knot in their throat and find his name hard to speak as if it’s too soon after his death. “I don’t fade to black, I cut to static” one of the coolest — and the easiest to scream — lyrics, which refers to the idea that his life didn’t slowly fade out but instead stopped immediately due to his suicide. Again the reference to Ben turning the oven on in order to kill his family is stated with “Had to turn the oven off,” and creates an unsure attitude of whether or not this is Ben confirming he didn’t go through with letting the gas get to his family or if he just regrets his decision. Ben comes back to the notion that people prefer not to talk about him and states that “stories end in Never mind, stories end in record time,” which mention how no one can mention Ben’s name. They just end the story. With these final lines, Quadeca ends the song with both high production value and high energy.
“fantasyworld” is a tearjerker through and through as the song describes the limbo that Ben is stuck in and the world he wishes was real. “Cry to sleep, wait a week… Counting sheep” all reference Ben’s uncertainty on how much time he has spent in the purgatory. Of course, the allusion to “counting sheep” refers to the saying that usually alludes to falling asleep, but here it’s more about a wish to move on with his death. This song also acts as a flashback (confirmed in a tweet by Quadeca) and we can see this through the dialogue Ben has with himself: “And I’m bored/I could be so much more than I am/I need to go/I heard there’s a place for me, one that nobody knows, one that goes away with me.” Ben reasons with why he should commit suicide. It could be something more. Both lines “I drove to a place that ain’t real” and “that place over the hill where you dream about crossing/It’s not a cry for help to rethink your options” show that suicide is not this “fantasyworld.” His suicide isn’t a thing for attention. Instead, it’s the way to achieve happiness. “It’s your mom’s bakery in Maine/It’s that cabin in Sweden/It’s the going offline/It’s ‘Next year, I’ll go vegan’/It’s not a ‘Woe is me’/It’s a hold the door open, that’s fantasy world” — a detailed verse where Ben creates a fantasyworld where everyone is happy and all dreams are acheived. Then Ben in his ghost form says, “and I float mountains away where no one can stay and I go not in a rush” to add a slight contradiction to the place he stated earlier as a “fantasyworld.” It doesn’t truly exist. The afterlife is instead something that shouldn’t be rushed into because no one can go there. Plus, it’s lonely. The track is helped with a looming piano and multiple electronic elements that twist and turn expectations while also providing enough emotional resonance to justify the noise.
Surprisingly Quadeca acquired the Sunday Service Choir for a feature on “fractions of infinity,” a song I was by far most unfamiliar with. I couldn’t find the meaning until it all clicked. “When’s the last time you let yourself think?/I might be gone every time I let myself blink/I wouldn’t say I was surprised on the eighty-second time” reveals that Ben’s suicide happened the eighty-second time he blinked and he wasn’t surprised when everything ended. It is still unsure whether or not Ben killed his family but he does reference it again by saying, “Tell me you think it’s all in your head you might be already dead.” His mother may not even know the lethal amounts of gas she has breathed in at this point. The line and title of the song “fractions of infinity” refer to how every person is merely a fraction in the infinite lives of all that are being lived at once, how every human is still limited by the fact that we are all finite, something greater than humanity will never be reached. The very next line is “Show me how you’ll sentence me,” a request to a god for punishment in order to escape the infinite nothingness that is the purgatory. The Sunday Service Choir and Quadecca both repeat the phrase “those words don’t do you justice,” meaning no matter what Ben says it will never be enough to ever say how he truly feels. Ben tries to describe his life as a failed movie stating “rippin up projector screens the director screamin cut…Take twenty-three let’s get this scene and then it’ll be enough, Right?/Throw some grain on if you can and that is that I’m the space between your hands about to clap those walls are caving in, and they say, ‘Congratulations, that’s a wrap.'” It’s heartbreaking. He views his life as a failed experiment for a film with “take twenty-three” as a reference to his age when he commits suicide. “That’s a wrap” serves, too, as god deciding his fate. Its ends with the Sunday Service Choir repeating the same phrase “Those words don’t do you justice.” The whole song is a major achievement for the sound of the album, one that’s perfect from start to finish.
The closing track of the album, “cassini’s division,” is the hardest to decipher. It features Thor Harris of Swans fame on some of the production design and a mystery man behind the conversation held throughout the track which is what I can assume to be Quadeca with a voice changer. The track has incredible production with a very telling spoken word section without much vocal performance: “You came out of the room and you were crying in a way that nobody could hear/I stopped kicking and screaming when you turned the lights on you woke me up/I felt naked, I felt exposed.” Someone noticed Ben’s suicide and awoke him. Ben saw his lifeless body and felt exposed. “Filtered out grain, filtered out static/Filtered out me and I’m so proud of you that presence that I’ve tried so hard to make known was/It was there, regardless of whether or not I was.” Ben is manifested through film grain and TV static, previously mentioned in “fractions of infinity.” His loved ones have been filtering this static. They move on from life. Ben is proud of them. It just proves his presence was always known, even though he wasn’t there. Here, Ben is okay and his family can “let me go and don’t let go of me.” Ben also talks about how he “wasn’t blinded by the light, but by everything else” — it wasn’t the light he saw when he died that frightened him but instead the consequences of his suicide on his family. As static begins to play and overtake the track Ben finalizes that “Maybe that’s the perfect void that’s begging me to join it…So I can make that void just a little bit brighter when you join it.” He officially accepts death and lets the void take him over. Static completely fills the song for the last several minutes as the album comes to a close.
The entire experience and journey of “I Didn’t Mean To Haunt You” is something that can’t fully be conveyed here. Sure, I can explain the story and some meaning behind the lyrics but the production and vocal ability of each and every track will deserves a listen. It’s worth the chance as my album of the year.
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