Released only a few months after 93 ‘til Infinity and No Need For Alarm, Casual’s debut seems doomed to linger in the shadow of its older brothers. It’s a shame, since Fear Itself deserves to be judged on its own merits. Despite the depth of the Heiro crew, guest appearances here are few and far between, putting Casual himself squarely in the spotlight. For a focused 50 minutes, he’s in top form, monkey flipping syllables like few others can with his playful, highly inflected delivery and mercurial, cypher-honed flow. On production, Domino also excels, using chunky breaks and rolling basslines to craft beats that match Casual’s own style – relaxed but never sloppy. Despite the imperative “peep what I wrote,” Cas’ tendency to switch rhyme schemes on a dime and his utter disregard for the boundaries of bars make for verses that defy transcription. It’s doubtful that many would want to read Casual’s raps in any case, since he spends most of the time (save for a pair of storytelling joints near the album’s end) “kicking shit to make MCs back down.” Listening, however, is another matter; his sheer skill at spitting works as alchemy between the page and the mic. “Even if it don’t mean shit, I’ma convince you,” Casual claims early on in the album. By the end of Fear Itself, he is successful.