Casual (Hieroglyphics) - conducted by Todd E. Jones  

Smash Rockwell, The Alter-Ego Of Casual

October 2005

MVRemix: What’s the title of the new Hieroglyphics album?

Casual: I don’t know yet. It takes all of us to put in our influence. We start our music before we start titling. I don’t think we titled ‘Full Circle’ until we had like 30 songs done.

MVRemix: You also released a compilation of unreleased tracks called ‘Truck Driver’. Tell us about that.

Casual: The ‘Truck Driver’ thing was to hold people over. Some of the times, we just release stuff like that and don’t put them in all stores. You can get it on-line at and

MVRemix: When creating a song, do you write to the beat or approach the song with pre-written lyrics or themes?

Casual: It happens all different ways. Sometimes, I have a rap ready. Sometimes, I have a beat to write a rap to. Other times, I have a beat to freestyle on. Certain artists do certain things. People work differently. What works for me is sitting down and taking my rhymes through the editing process. The smallest little things can make a rap worse or better. Some people talk about how they don’t write rhymes because their spontaneity is so tight. That’s cool. I understand that because I have been freestyling for 15 years. I still freestyle but you have to understand the reason why we scribe. It is because we can see things and can hear things. When we hear things, that is one kind of sense, but when you see things, that is a completely other kind of sense. I like seeing my lyrics as well as hearing them.

MVRemix: Hieroglyphics were mentioned in the documentary, ‘Freestyle: The Art Of Rhyme’. What did you think of that documentary?

Casual: That’s bullshit! I hate that movie. How can you come to Oakland, California and not film us? They came to Oakland but didn’t get in touch with one member of Hiero. The Hieroglyphics spearheaded that freestyle movement coming out of the Bay, at that point and time. Maybe, it was something internal. I don’t know what happened. I threw that movie away because of that reason. Straight up! They are trying to be the truest, realest, and underground movie with all of the facts. But, how can you pass up a whole era in hip-hop. That type of stuff gets on my nerves.

MVRemix: When I interviewed you in 2002, you stated the MPC was your favorite.

Casual: I don’t work on it no more, but it probably still is. I’m working on my PC now.

MVRemix: Besides Dr. Dre and Premier (who you mentioned in my last interview), who are some producers you are feeling?

Casual: Everybody! Evidence is someone I’m listening to right now. Alchemist, J-Zone, and Jake One I’m feeling.

MVRemix: Who are some new emcees you are listening to these days?

Casual: I’m feeling Saigon. I feel everybody. I’m not that type. I don’t get overexcited about anything, but I don’t hate on it too much either.

MVRemix: Word association. When I say a name, you tell me the first word that pops in your head. So, if I say ‘Flava Flav’, you may say ‘Clock’, ‘crack’, or ‘The Surreal Life’. Ok?

Casual: Alright.

MVRemix: Lyrics Born.

Casual: Bay area.

MVRemix: J-Zone.

Casual: New York.

MVRemix: Atmosphere.

Casual: Slug.

MVRemix: Dr. Dre.

Casual: Bishop Lamont. He’s a new artist signed with Dr. Dre. I did a song on his mix-tape. That’s why he popped in my head.

MVRemix: Method Man.

Casual: Sack attack.

MVRemix: The Coup.

Casual: 99. I did a tour with them.

MVRemix: Too $hort.

Casual: Pimpin’.

MVRemix: Curtis Mayfield.

Casual: Kurtis Blow.

MVRemix: Funkmasta Flex.

Casual: D.J.

MVRemix: Grandmaster Flash & The Furious Five.

Casual: Kangols.

MVRemix: Souls Of Mischief.

Casual: ’93 Till Infinity.

MVRemix: Abstract Rude.

Casual: What’s up? That’s my boy.

MVRemix: George Bush.

Casual: George Bush hates Black people, or whatever Kanye West said.

MVRemix: What did you think about Kanye West’s comments about George Bush?

Casual: It’s good. I applaud my man for using his celebrity status to make a stand, whether it’s right or wrong. At least he is taking some type of stand. Other people can have the whole world listening, but they don’t even speak on anything. Plus, that’s personal because that’s really happening to our people. As for using celebrity status to say something, he was on Mtv. None of the other media that would cover him, saying that. The fact that he said something that meant something made it replayed on every other kind of media. I think more artists should take a stand. Even if it ain’t going to do anything, it may put the pressure on somebody.

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"That’s bullshit! I hate that movie. How can you come to Oakland, California and not film us? They came to Oakland but didn’t get in touch with one member of Hiero. The Hieroglyphics spearheaded that freestyle movement coming out of the Bay, at that point and time."

(in reference to
"Freestyle: The Art Of Rhyme")