This album was released on July 3rd this year. It’s the self titled debut from a newly formed duo made up of Curly Castro and Small Professor. Curly Castro has been involved in a lot of dope shit that’s come out this year, and I feel like I haven’t really written about any of it, so I wanted to make sure I covered this one to give him the credit he deserves. The self titled ShrapKnel album from earlier this year was very good—although I prefer the Cobalt EP personally—and that Wrecking Crew album from June was really goddamn great too. Make sure you check all that shit out if you haven’t yet. Anyway, I didn’t have too many expectations going into this project. I didn’t have any predictions regarding the production style or lyrical themes. I was just expecting dopeness, and that’s what I got.
The album begins with Coda BLUu, which has a pretty straightforward structure. I like how it starts off with a sample of Conway taunting rappers who take a lot of time and effort to make albums that end up being trash. That was dope, and it makes sense for Curly Castro to use it since he puts out a lot of dope shit pretty frequently. The song just has one verse, but it’s really dope.
I got good, I got great, I got mandarin rings
I got metal, I got alchemy, I got samurai swings
I got gargoyle wings, I bought homicide wings
I got live, I got hives, got fluid IVs
Most of the verse is structured like this, and it’s really cool. The kind of rusty, dark sounding production is really cool, and I think it fits Castro’s style perfectly. It’s a really dope track. The second song is called Petah was Right; it starts off with a much lighter and more melodic beat, which eventually transitions into another dark boom bap instrumental. I love the upright bass loop in this beat. It sounds really dark, yet jazzy & melodic at the same time. I think Castro killed this shit too. I kinda have no idea what the song is about, but he referenced someone named Peter Petrelli, who is apparently a character from a show called Heroes. I think the whole song is based on that show to be honest, but I might be wrong.
A mantra to hold the whole future down
Wrecking Crew hero who lost and found
A company worthy called underground
Peter Petrelli when they around
He also mentions a shit ton of other characters on the show, including The Haitian, Gabriel Gray, Micah & Niki Sanders, Arthur & Nathan Petrelli, and Maury Parkman, among others. The song would probably resonate with me a lot more if I was actually familiar with the show, but I was clearly able to figure it out for the most part. I think it’s a dope track. The third song is called Errol Barnes, and it’s the first real highlight for me. I love how hard hitting Small Pro’s production here is. Curly Castro killed it too. The song is named after a character from the Spike Lee directed film, Clockers. I’d never seen or even heard of this movie until I googled “Errol Barnes.” I definitely see why they chose that name for the song after reading about that character though. This track actually features Illogic, which was pretty cool to see. I feel like I haven’t heard from him in a long ass time, so it was nice to hear a dope performance from him here.
Got flames on my head to keep this caps moving from benches
Keepin’ this train movin’ on track, hope somebody listens
Pain in my stomach with a physician ain’t listed to cure this
Bullet holes in the body of a future with a life so morbid
Try to take cats under wing to lead with no destination
OG did the same for me, still try to reflect his patience
‘Til I’m seen as a threat, reject the brainwashing he shoots
Because “their time’s limited, hardrocks’ too”
I’m really glad he was here because I think he added a lot to the song. I don’t really have any complaints about this track. I guess a slight nitpick would be that the “their time’s limited…” refrain gets a bit irritating after a while, but it’s really not a big deal for me. I think the song’s dope as hell. The following song is called Dolomite Boom Mics. Once again, I really love the dusty boom bap production from Small Pro here. It’s kind of a chaotic beat, so it does make the lyrics a little difficult to decipher. I still caught some crazy lines from Castro though…
Fuck pigs like my name’s Kermit
The reference to Cannibal Ox’s Vordal Mega was also dope. The second verse on the song is performed by an MC named King FOE, whom I’d never heard of before listening to this track. I ended up really enjoying his performance though. His voice kinda reminded me of Elucid. This is one of the shortest songs on the album, so there’s not really that much to dig into here. It’s just two really dope verses over a great instrumental. I really like this one. It’s a dope track. It’s followed by Paul Pierce Stab Wounds, which is the only song I’d heard before checking out the full project. It was featured on the aforementioned Wrecking Crew album, Raheem’s Lament—you should definitely check that album out if you haven’t yet by the way. This is definitely one of my favorite songs on the project. The beat sounds like what would play in an old film while a character is engaging in some felonious activities. The whole track is pretty much just one verse, but it’s really great. I think Curly Castro sounds perfect over this beat. The song is dope as hell. Track 6 is called Fantomex Guns, and it features DistantStarr, Alaska, and Al Mighty. Unless I’m mistaken, I don’t think I’d ever heard of DistantStarr or Al Mighty before hearing this song. Anyway, this track has one of my favorite instrumentals on the whole project. Small Pro killed this shit. The first verse from Curly Castro is fire too.
Follow the complaint crumbs
Email blast, you ain’t one
Universe to blame
Why you haven’t dropped an album
The voice that comes in after his verse finishes is super weird sounding, but in a really cool way. It sounds like a computerized voice from an alien spaceship or something. It sounds like the cover of this album. It’s awesome. The beat switches up at this point too, and somehow gets even doper. It’s more uptempo than the initial beat. I’m assuming this second verse is performed by DistantStarr. He killed it too. Alaska came in right behind him and did his thing.
The killer moves in silence
The calm before the storm
Precursor to the violence
I take my perfect form
He deserves all the praise in the world for that Aqua Teen Hunger Force reference. Al Mighty’s flow on that final verse was really impressive. The way he was riding the beat was nice. Overall, I really love this track. It’s one of my favorites on the project. The production is glorious, and I was more than satisfied with each MC’s performance. The song is long as fuck, but I think its length is justified. The following track is called Reefer Madness, which is one of the more unique songs on the album, mainly because Curly Castro doesn’t really rap at all. He’s kinda just singing about weed, as the title indicates. The singing isn’t particularly good, but it’s weird and endearing enough to be enjoyable—kinda in the same way that ODB and Darko the Super are enjoyable whenever they sing. It’s far from a highlight for me since there isn’t much going on here, but I do really like the production, and I think Curly Castro sounds good here. It kinda feels more like an interlude than anything, but I still enjoyed it regardless. It’s a good song. It’s followed by the shortest song on the album, Doctor Glib. This is one of the weaker tracks for me personally, but it’s really just because I don’t like the beat as much as a lot of the others. Castro definitely rapped well here. The beat isn’t bad either. I just don’t love it as much as the others. Nothing about the song really stands out to me that much, but it’s certainly listenable. I just think it’s an okay song overall, but definitely not bad. It’s followed by a major highlight for me, Habitual Line Steppah, which features YOUNGMAN. Obviously if you know me you know that I’m a huge Paul Barman fan, so I was really excited for this one, but the song would’ve been a highlight whether he was featured or not. I think it’s one of the most interesting tracks on the entire project. The way Curly Castro’s verse is edited is really creative. I feel like some listeners may find it annoying, but I thought it was really cool.
Allow me to introduce myself, go by the name “C-”
My apologies, it seems that this beat was looped just a little off-ki-
Wait, wait a minute, hold, stop the press, you’ll get shot, you’re go-
Yo, what the deal, Smalls? Check the reel, this ain’t killa bees on some stroke of de-
I must confess, Small the Profess’ got me vexed tryna ride this-
See? What I say? This shit again, cat déjà vu, we stuck in the ma-
The beat itself isn’t super interesting to me, but the way they rapped over it was awesome. YOUNGMAN killed this shit.
Red’s for the baitin’, the white’s for supremacy
The blue’s for the balls you get when you escape the human centipede
As always, damn near every line in his verse is a quotable bar for me.
Thanks to the gentle tree that produced the pencil that helped me achieve
Mental freedom for the time bein’ ’til another rhyme scheme is sent to me
He absolutely demolished this track. Again, it’s one of my favorites on the album, and it seems to be somewhat of a fan favorite as well. It’s dope af. Track 10 is called Cerberus Niggah, and it’s one of the most traditional sounding tracks on the album in my opinion. It sounds way more accessible and old school than anything else on the album. It features that classic “hey sucka nigga, whoever you are” sample from Wild Style. The content isn’t particularly interesting to me personally, but I think it’s well executed.
Hey, hey, my cool queen, beam wherever you are
She ain’t believe my faux pas, every nigga’s a star
Hardy-har, off the stage took a piece of my heart
But how I broke her all down, I just played her for parts
It’s far from a highlight for me, but I definitely enjoy it to some extent. I think it’s a pretty good track. It’s followed by Pumas, which is really the only track that I don’t like at least a little bit. I still wouldn’t necessarily call it a bad song, but it’s just not my style at all. I don’t really care for the production, and the content isn’t for me.
When she swing her hips so, I swing my hips so
When she go down low then I go down low
It’s basically one of those songs that’s specifically made for people to wine to. There is no context in which I would listen to this song. I can kinda picture my Trinidadian uncle dancing to this while blackout drunk, but that could never be me since I don’t drink. The sober me would never listen to this. Again, I wouldn’t say that it’s a bad song, but I just don’t get anything out of it. It’s mediocre for me. Track 12 is the last major highlight for me. It’s called A Cabal called Wreck, and it features the rest of the Wrecking Crew along with ialive. I think the chaotic production here is really awesome. The opening verse from Castro is great.
Smalls plays the sensei, conduct the dojo
Danger room protocol’s hive mind still dolo
Hands on our solos, red nights on vocals
Put your money up, dummy all echoes
ialive of course stood out a lot on the second verse.
Representing both sides of the brain
Got you hangin’ in the trash like Saddam Hussein
Make some progress, if you legalize you will gain
Peak inside the mind and know the rhymes of real violence and pain
I haven’t been crazy about Zilla Rocca‘s work in the past, but he actually stood out a lot here. I think his voice sounds great on this song. I couldn’t tell if it was because he just fits this production really well or if I like the contrast between him and the other MCs. I think it’s probably a little bit of both. His voice kinda reminded me of Aesop Rock a little bit for whatever reason.
Spent three years changing shitty ass diapers
And still clean up in them center city cyphers
Wrote it all without no damn ink pen
I learned all these years that you are who you drink with
PremRock came through at the end to tie everything up nicely.
Social media done got your brain fried
Back in my days it’s simply haze and St. Ides
The beat’s blocking your faint cries
I’d say it beats watching the paint dry, but why would I lie?
They all killed this shit. I honestly think each verse is better than the last. The song is dope as hell. The penultimate song is called Wrecking Idiots. It’s kind of a low point in the grand scheme of the album, but I did kind of enjoy it to some extent. The chill, jazzy production is solid, and I think the lyricism from Curly Castro is cool. I just kinda wish there was more urgency to his flow and delivery. The song as a whole ends up feeling like more of an interlude than anything, especially since it’s so short. It doesn’t really go anywhere. It’s certainly a listenable track though. It doesn’t really have any replay value for me personally, but if it suddenly came on shuffle I wouldn’t be in a rush to turn it off. It’s a decent track. Thankfully, the closing track is pretty great. It’s called Moor betta Bluu’s, and it features a great verse from billy woods. I love the bizarre, kind of off-kilter production on this song, and the dark references in the hook to heroin use were pretty interesting.
Blues dancing when the needle hits the arm
It’s the same anticipation when the needle hits the song
Go, go on, go on and chase that dragon
As I said, the verse from billy woods here is great, but I actually thought Curly Castro was even better on the second verse.
This that BLUu Ed’ booyakah, Dancehall ting
And I never meant a thing ‘less Smalls let it swing
But when the mass caught that swing they like, “this was your king???”
I think it’s a pretty great outro for the album. It’s a dope song.
This is a really good album. I think Small Professor’s production here is pretty great for the most part, and Curly Castro fits over these instrumentals like a glove. After a few listens, I noticed that almost all of my favorite tracks featured verses from other MCs, but I’m sure that’s just a coincidence. There are a handful of tracks on this project that I won’t be returning to in the future, but there aren’t any songs that I would say are actually bad. I’m really glad I finally got around to checking this project out. If you’re generally into Curly Castro’s work or Abstract Hip Hop in general, this is definitely something you’re gonna wanna hear. Don’t sleep on it. It’s a dope album.
FAVORITE SONG: HABITUAL LINE STEPPAH
LEAST FAVORITE SONG: PUMAS
SCORE: 77 (B)
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