Smash Rockwell

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After a solid stint of touring, Casual’s perfected his emcee style, and this — his third official album — is his best work to date.

It’s a Bay Area anthem, complete with guest appearances by E-40, Too $hort, and Richie Rich. Though the album is filled with hella amounts of Bay Area slang, like “Hyphie” and “Go Dumb,” Casual’s rhyme style and flow should appeal to hip hop fans anywhere. The lead single, “Say That Then,” hits hard, as if the only persona worth anything is gangster — yet the lyrics are anti-bling. Elsewhere, “Single Mother” is a jazzy and empathetic ode to troubled moms that’s scornful and uplifting.

For beats, Casual employs the services of Dan the Automator, Jake One and the legendary Dante Ross — which is smart. The tone is West Coast, but universal, and Casual’s Smash Rockwell alter ego comes across without a hitch.

Jonathan Cunningham writes about music for Metro Times. Send comments to letters@metrotimes.com.

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