Wednesday, October 2, 2019

Casual - Fear Itself 2xLP


Jive (1994)

Wednesday is Ed Lover Dance Day and this album is the last of the records that were already in my collection that I'm going to write about.  As I start writing about the various golden age hip hop records I've picked up over the last couple of months (finally upgrading the CDs I've had since high school), I wanted to talk about the three most important hip hop albums to me.  I've already written about Del the Funky Homosapien's No Need For Alarm and Souls of Mischief's 93 'Til Infinity, and now we're going to complete the trifecta with Fear Itself, this debut from Casual.

Like Del and Souls, Casual is part of the Hieroglyphics crew.  Fear Itself came out after their records did and was released at the beginning of 1994.  In some ways, it was the last truly mind blowing rap album I ever heard.  To this day, I haven't heard anything that has been released since then that is as good as this.  Though in fairness, it is my second favorite hip hop album of all time, so it's a pretty high bar to try to reach.

Everything about Fear Itself is perfect.  The album slams from start to finish and not only is there not a weak track in the bunch, there isn't really much of anything sub-phenomenal.  I guess "Interlude" might not stack up as high as everything else, but Casual doesn't even rap on that song, so I don't think that counts.  The beats on this record are some of the most consistently incredible I've ever heard.  Innovative sampling that bridges funk, soul, jazz and boom bap.  Whether it's the bounce of "Me-O-Mi-O," the upbeat piano and bass of Hireo posse cut "Who's It On" or the slow dragging bass of "This Is How We Rip Shit" and album closer "Be Thousand," Casual hits it out of the park every single time.  He even manages to put to tape my favorite ever verse from Del The Funky Homosapien on the all too brief "A Little Something,"

It's just a pretty unbelievable album from start to finish, yet I've always felt that Fear Itself didn't get the accolades it has deserved over the years.  I think a lot of folks have either never heard of or have forgotten about this classic album.  It's not super available on vinyl.  I have the old Jive release and that doesn't even have proper artwork.  There is a UK version that does, but the price and shipping costs have kept it just out of arms reach for me over the years. I wish one of those 'Respect The Classics' type of reissue labels would get their hands on this and give it the lavish reissue it so rightly deserves.  When you are talking about the best hip hop albums of the 1990s, they don't get much better than Fear Itself.

Casual - "A Little Something":

Casual - "This Is How We Rip Shit":

Casual - "Who's It On":

Casual - "Be Thousand":

No comments:

Post a Comment