Travel Back To The Early ’90s & Hear Casual Paint Hieroglyphics With Words On His Demo
A few years before there Mistah F.A.B. burst onto the scene, it was Casual who turned a Bay Area reputation for battling into a successful music career that has lasted ever since. “Smash Rockwell” continues to put in work with his Hieroglyphics crew, as Fear Itself approaches its 25th anniversary.
The self-proclaimed “People’s Champ” out of East Oakland has a re-installment of two gems from the earliest part of his run. “Fear No Evil” and another Funk-drenched Domino mix of “Me-O-Mi-O ” are both part of an EP – Demo Sessions – soon to be delivered by Dope Folks Records. Casual has never been one to short his listening public with bubble-gum lyrics or syrupy rhyme patterns. Fittingly, these two gifts arrive in the holiday season, and remind us how skilled young Jonathan Owens was at the time he made a career out of Rap.
Dope Folks Records suggests that “Fear No Evil” emerged out of 1991-1993, more than a year before the MC landed at Jive/Zomba Records to release his heralded debut. These are some of the songs that got him there, part of a label that had a strong history with Too Short, E-40 and The Click, plus Spice-1.
The Domino-produced remix of “Me-O-Mi-O” was recorded between 1992-1993 and differs from the mix found on Fear Itself – the second-highest charting album in Hieroglyphics history. Casual goes in off top with unmistakable confidence. He seizes his authority as a rap ruler (“Overlordian”), twice adjusting his flow as the cadence shifts to accommodate his playful but sinewy delivery:
“Since, you, never been in my brain / You probably never noticed the array of the pain / But I gain, no pain no gain no brain no sane / Thoughts, will be maintained, so I keep my head on / Can’t be f*ckin with that Buddha too oft-en / I’m new to that, but I’m true to that / Due to mack policies, I need to know if I know / This is me-o-mi-o-why…” That style was unique, and the groove is everlasting. Dom’ switches the beat up after the first verse with some dirtier drums for emphasis.
The Demo Sessions EP is six songs of Casual at some of his earliest, and some of his most exciting. This month, Domino joined Del and A&R Dante Ross in telling the oral history to Del The Funky Homosapien’s No Need For Alarm album 25 years later.