Casual and J Rawls Respect Game or Expect Flames

Despite the corny title, Hiero vet Casual keeps it moving along nicely on his latest project, Respect Game or Expect Flames, a collaboration with producer J Rawls, whose resume includes beats for the likes of Black Star ("Brown-Skin Lady"). Smash Rockwell (Casual) weaves in and out of the funk that Rawls provides throughout the full-length, although he stumbles yet again out of the gate on the album opener. This time it's the irritating warbling on the spacey "Reign," featuring Pep Love and Alana Reign, which had me anticipating the next track much quicker than usual. All is quickly forgotten on the title track, featuring none other than Del Tha Funkee Homosapien, who uses his bars wisely, dropping knowledge over a dope guitar breakdown and some dusty scratching. Another rewind-worthy track is "Hier-O-Dot," a posse cut featuring Copywrite, Phesto, Tage, Tajai, Opio and Jakki Da Motamouth, which sees all the MCs spitting cypher-style over a funky bass lick that would make Bootsy Collins jealous. Yup, looks like Hiero's back and here to stay. (Nature Sounds)