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Fear Itself

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Album Review

Casual's 1994 debut, Fear Itself, was the Oakland, CA, rhyme crew Hieroglyphics' third attempt to seize the listening public's attention with their unique brand of hip-hop. Whereas fellow Hieroglyphic Del tha Funkee Homosapien plays the part of the sly ghetto-wise guy sliding in and out of trouble, Casual is the burly troublemaker. He'll punch you in the face, sex your girl up, and generally flout good manners. The deep-voiced MC produces an unending and seemingly unstoppable flow of boasts and taunts, mercilessly skewering the wack rappers and fools he sees about him. The simplicity of his message belies the complexity of his vicious wordplay. The beats mirror Casual's rhyme flow with break after break filling each song. The production doesn't differ much from the organic funk on the other Hieroglyphics albums of the same period (No Need for Alarm and 93 'Til Infinity), except perhaps that the aggressiveness is turned up a notch. The tracks gallop along with a brutal funkiness to match the muscle of Casual's rhymes. Like other Hieroglyphics releases, Fear Itself is a family affair with Souls of Mischief, Extra Prolific, and Del making guest appearances. The album will already be part of the collections of Hieroglyphics fans, but others will find much here to like as well.

Biography

Born: East Oakland, CA

Genre: Hip-Hop/Rap

Years Active: '90s, '00s

Casual was third out the gate (following Del tha Funkee Homosapien and Souls of Mischief) from the Hieroglyphics crew, the undisputed kings of the Oakland underground scene. Casual's stature suggests that he may be the crew's bodyguard, until the mic is in his hand and the MC commences his verbal onslaught. Anything but casual in the sound booth, the gifted freestyler, known for his fierce battle tactics, dropped the moody Fear Itself in 1994 to a chorus of cheers from the underground set. Cas scored...
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Fear Itself, Casual
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Contemporaries