Words and Photos by W. H. Ferrell, Jr.
Casino is a young artist born in Chester and raised in Philadelphia. As a teenager he moved to Delaware where his hunger to create music pushed him to explore the local scene. After being exposed to Delaware artists like Blu Chip and Swanny Rivers, Casino has been inspired to create his own first cd “The Hostile Takeover” and will be host a release party next Thursday.
What do you think of the current state of hip-hop?
I think like everything else over time it evolves, a lot of people say Hip-Hop is dead but I think it’s just changing. At a point and time all you had was Hip-Hop and hardcore Rap, now you have so many different genres of music like you got your Snap music, your Crunk music, the Crank That music, and so forth. I think that’s why the true hip-hop heads are saying its dead because of the era we’re in right now, but I feel like as an artist it’s all about reinventing yourself.
How were you first exposed to hip-hop?
I guess just watching TV. And being around my step pop he was into music, so whenever he would play stuff around the house I would just tune in and listen. The first song I ever heard and liked had to be "Wild Wild West" by Kool Mo Dee, as I got older I listened to everything from Rap to R&B. But I remember the very first Rap cd I ever had and I think my moms only bought it because I begged her for it and that was "Ready to Die" by The Notorious Big. I would listen to that cd front to back everyday, come in the house and listen to it while I did my homework, Biggie is still my favorite rapper of all time.
Do you have a website where folks can hear your music?
I don't have an official website yet but it’s in the works, but just like everybody else you can find me on MySpace at www.myspace.com/casinosincity. You can hear new music, get show info, pretty much everything you need to know about me. I'm always online I don't have anybody running my page for me, if you send a message to Casino you get a reply from Casino.
What do you think of Delaware’s local venues?
I just really got into the performance scene so I'm pretty much down to perform where ever in front of whoever, I don't care if its 2 people or 2,000 people I'm going to put on the best show I can. So as of right now I don't have a favorite venue but I will say it’s a big difference between an East End Cafe crowd and a Pale Dog Tavern crowd. East End Cafe is pretty much people come out to show love to the local performers and support, but a Pale Dog crowd they make you work for their support. Which isn't a bad thing, I like a challenge. I don't like being handed anything, if I have to earn it so be it.
When did you first start writing and recording music?
I first started writing and recording in either 2002 or 2003. But at the time I was writing I was only doing it because my older cousin was doing it and it looked fun. I remember my first recording was on a karaoke machine and the quality sounded horrible. My cousin started to do other things musically which didn't involve me so I stopped, but after hearing some of the cats that was rapping around me whether I knew them or not most of it was weak that’s what made me realize I could do this for real cause I knew I could deliver better material. From then to this day I still try to improve and perfect my craft, this mix tape I’m releasing is my first cd and I hope people take to it.
How did you put together this new mix tape?
It was pretty much a matter of picking the music, because when most artist put a mix tape together they rap over the hottest beats that’s on the radio which is cool but mostly every artist does it underground and mainstream. So what I tried to do a little different was mainstream beats I never heard before so I can treat the tracks like they were made for me. Because 9 times out of 10 when you rap over another person beat you might come up with something that the original artist did, whether it be a lyric, flow, style or whatever which your not really standing out because you sound like that artist. But besides that the mix tape is crazy! I got features like my artist Jewelz Jonson, Swish Maddi, A.B., C.h.a.s.e., and one of my peoples from Chester Young Giavonni. So I’m waiting to see what it do in the tri-state area then I plan on expanding from there.
What is your opinion of Delaware's music scene?
To be completely honest, it has its ups and downs but being as though I am a musician and just the fact I love music I’ll buy anybody's material, but I would say 90% of the time I wouldn't like it. Everything I hear is the same stuff, I shoot this, I sell that, and they be the ones that never made it pass their neighborhood in the suburbs. Then you got some of these cats that think because they got money they supposed to be treated like they somebody special when half the time they material suck. But my favorite rappers in Delaware are the ones that’s sort of well known and walk around with the cocky attitude because they know they got a name in Delaware.
Overall I look for material from an artist not a rapper. It's a big difference between the two, an artist can write songs and make hit records or hit material as to where a rapper just raps over the track. A artist can give you material from every aspect of music, for example an artist could do a song that is radio material, something you can dance to, something kids could listen to, and turn around and do a song about struggling growing up, or a song the ladies would like, a song for the true Hip-Hop heads, a song for the people that like to smoke. You know somebody that’s not stuck on one topic in their album, a rapper is just going to tell you how many guns he shot, how many years he did in jail, and how long he stood on the corner hustling, that’s pretty much all you get from a rapper. So I look for substance.
Are you a gambler?
As long as I'm writing, recording, performing, and networking all of that is a gamble. I might write a song that’s way out of normal material and I feel like it’s a hit cause it’s different, but at the same time the people might not take to it so I took a gamble on trying something different. As much as hip-hop has been changing the past few years its like anything you do your taking a chance cause you don't know what people want anymore.
What do you hope to accomplish with your new material?
Being as though this is my first cd I guess you could say I’m introducing myself to Delaware and all the surrounding cities. I'm just trying to get my name out there a little bit more than it is, like me personally I think I'm doing ok as far as people getting to know me and I don't even have a cd out and not being originally from Delaware, so if I keep grinding the way I been doing I’ll be good money.