Casey Veggies – Sleeping In Class (Peas & Carrots International, 2011)
- by Yayo
Casey Veggies released his debut album, Sleeping In Class, to universal shrugs. Despite being affiliated with Odd Future, a group whose overexposure only amplified with each passing day, Casey Veggies missed the wave that they were sailing on. Listening to Sleeping In Class, it’s apparent that this isn’t because of a half-assed project – on the contrary, Casey’s debut is a well-put together piece of work that showcases how strong of a grasp the 17 year old has on making good music. No, the main attribution that kept his peers’ buzz from rubbing off on him was his positive outlook on life.
That’s not to say that’s Casey’s only fault; Casey lacks an instantly captivating idenity. While his peers have their often enigmatic, rebellious presence on and off record, Casey is far more reserved. In fact, like fellow Californian Kendrick Lamar, Casey’s style is far more akin to West Coast conscious rap acts like Aceyalone (perhaps not in lyrics, but in spirit) and Souls of Mischief. This isn’t to say that Casey’s caught in some type of time-warp like a lot of rappers who get pigeonholed as “modern-backpackers”, because Casey is definitely a part of the foreward-thinking rappers he inhabits Los Angeles with.
Casey, not even of age when recording this album, is very much a product of his time. He chants swag and wavy (though quietly and in random intervals) to channel his contemporaries’ energy. He raps over Brandun DeShay’s (a producer who has been unfairly derided by Odd Future fanatics because of a riff between the two) modern swing-rap; taking music that your grandparents likely danced the night away to and adding some dope drums to it.
“Ridin’ Roun Town” is a great example of their chemistry, but “Hear Me Screamin’” is their true standout as a duo. Sleeping In Class has a loose concept of following your dreams, instead of letting America’s stereotypical standards guide you in life – hence the title of “sleeping in class.” “Hear Me Screamin’” has Casey covering a variety of topics from talking to a lover, one who was leaving for college while Casey stayed to pursue his own goals, to his grandmother, and how he hopes to make her proud despite following a path that went against her intentions for him. Brandun’s production perfectly compliments Casey’s introspective lyrics with a set of tinkling keys and chimes.
Although the majority of Sleeping In Class focuses on working-class optimism, that formula could become monotone if not for the rare breaks in perspective. “30,000: (featuring a guest appearance from perenniel blog-rapper Nero) gives us our first attempt at an “ignorant” hip-hop record, that of the Lil B“Bitches on My Dick”-vein (PAUSE). Woody’s beat (you make this so easy) distances itself greatly from most of the production found here – a claustrophobic production that’d work perfectly as the soundtrack to an asylum inmate’s daily ponderings. Casey adopts a more aggressive flow to tackle it, and while he doesn’t sound as comfortable as he has on the smooth-tracks proceeding it, it’s still a decent display of his ability to change things up.
The other change in pace comes on “DTA” – a Wolf Haley production that drags Casey steeply back into Odd Future’s territory. Full of Tyler’s signature chops and squawking synths – a deranged version of the Fat Albert theme – this is where the contract between these two emerging stars is brought to the forefront for the world to see. Casey goes in on his two verses, delivering some strong couplets with enough precision to compliment Tyler’s beat. Despite that, Tyler’s polarizing personality shuts down the entire album for close to a minute. Dropping his signature demonic-growl to play to his production, he adopts a whisper flow reminiscent of his hero Pharrell’s to talk about his undying trust to heroin addicts and Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. There really is no holding your own against Tyler when he’s on his game like this, but Casey never lets himself get derailed by his good friend’s endlessly endearing feature.
The potential that Casey Veggies displays on Sleeping In Class may go unnoticed by those looking for a quick Odd Future fix, but Veggies is his own artist. Cautiously optimistic and grounded in a reality that his peers reject, Casey never tries to substitute his life’s story for an outrageous adventure full of unicorns and cocaine. While he still hasn’t settled on a conclusive idenity and Sleeping In Class can tend to drag at times from the overall lack of variety, the 17 year old exhibits that once all of the tangible characteristics he carries with him manifest fully, there maybe no one that can stop him from achieving his dreams. Sleeping In Class sometimes pays off.
Download Casey Veggies’ Sleeping In Class here for free