Artist: Curly Castro

Album: Fidel

Source: Artist Rep


1. Call Me Castro
2. Starch (ft. Has-Lo x Boogieman Dela)
3. Minefield
4. Coaine Blues
5. Winter Too
6. Coal
7. Mesrine (ft. Yung Yorrisey)
8. Fenster & McManus (ft. Zilla Rocca)
9. The Spook Who Sat
10. Colored Water Fountain
11. The Letter M
12. Kintro
13. Libertad (ft. Ari Lourdes)


I was working on this review before I had to take a brief hiatus and I am obligated and intent on finishing it.  This album is too good not to mention and it’s imperative you give it the time to listen to it.  I first heard of Castro from his affiliation with Zilla Rocca.  We had actually previewed several of his previous singles.  This is his first musical offering as a recent signee of Man Bites Dog Records.   And what an offering it is…

From the get go you realize that Curly Castro is pushing his hip hop into the revolutionary spectrum.  Call Me Castro is the introduction to the man and the ideology.  The beat by Blueprint is chaotic, yet  makes perfect musical sense.  It’ that”organized confusion” of a rhythm.  It’s here in your first taste of the album that you feel the ins-urgency.  Through his lyricism he alludes to himself being ‘part Chuck D’. Not a whole lot of artists have been carrying that banner in this generation.  But this song is just a piece to a far greater puzzle as one thing is certain: this album is anything but mundane.

Minefield is a very memorable moment in the album.  It is equaled only in it’s brevity by it’s dopeness. The track is without a true hook but lyrically this joint just goes.  The guitar riff gives familiarity but framed in an incredibly dope perspective.   Castro juxtaposes his rhymes where one line merely expounds upon another. Check the excellence of execution of Castro’s bars:

Emerged from a black hole, singed by the sunlight / Ambilical cut by  a stray from a gunfight / Jumping turnstiles / Eyes glued to the countdown / With a stolen X-File / Thought I had a jump now / Little did I know now / Or have the know how / Kept my Brand Nubian, learned how to Slow Down / On with the show now / Do a little Dice Clay / Imitating Ice Cube when he has a bad day

We had previously discussed the single Coal but it truly is the show stopper of the album so how could I do a review without giving it’s due yet again?  The production from Georgia Ann Muldrow seems so basic but it’s also enthralling.  It’s amazing what the barest of beats and hand claps can accomplish.  As far as Castro’s and Has-Lo’s lyrical merits go on the track, they discuss racial relations and their placement in society as youth.  They go on to speak on how well (or didn’t) mesh with the white community.  It’s a very deep and intricate track.  The chorus I am sure has some deeper inherent meaning that I can’t get into, or completely understand, which is and of itself a draw.   The whole concept though is very well articulated.

Fenster & McManus has long time collaborators, Castro and Zilla Rocca tag teaming under the pseudonyms of characters from the movie Usual Suspects.  The two have great verbal exchanges in detailing their story of crime and intrigue which happens to loosely follow pieces of the movie itself. Their great chemistry is exemplary on this track, not only with each other, but with producer Small Professor.  Small Professor laces the beat like it has two faces.  One side is a little uptempo and then quickly delves into a darker side that sounds a tad like the theme music to Halloween.

Fidel is an album that is very accessible in a way where you can throw yourself right into the music.  It’s also a project covets ideas and uniqueness.  Castro’s style is laid back and inviting yet also stimulating and thought provoking.  And while it touches on the sounds of revolution, it remains…fun.  Castro can manipulate concepts and rhythms of all sorts.  He can share a story.  He can deliver the boom-bap.  If called upon he can also drop the smooth gem. But the true genius stems from his boundless imagination. Throughout the album there are nuances and messages.  Sometimes there are messages within the nuances.  Fidel makes for a very animated listening to experience and kudos for Man Bites Dog records to recognize the potential of this artist.

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