13. Fear Itself, Casual
Casual is a high-flying West Coast version of Common, tonally (no, he doesn't sound like he's wearing olive green Gap sweaters when he rhymes). He's got a slick tongue that front flips from one line to the next with the transport of Yoshi. His delivery is shot through with adrenaline and an animated sense of narrative on Fear Itself (“There goes the brothers who bit, ooh goody!/They got ‘em surrounded, description: blue hoody.”) Engulfed by a concrete jungle of acoustics via Domino, Casual shows out by rendering the beat D.O.A. every time. Few MCs have as many gymnastic styles as those displayed on Fear Itself, making it one of the seminal albums to spring from the Hieroglyphics camp.
If you aren’t listening closely, he sounds complex, but follow each word and you realize he’s telling simple tales. His jumbled technique across the album masks a straightforward storyteller. The contents of Tarantino’s films aren’t anything new—it’s the way he shows you that stands out. Mixed with the outstanding beat selection, Casual’s bars make for a standout in Cali rap history.