Casual (rapper)

Jon Owens (born December 19, 1973), known by his stage name Casual, is an American rapper and producer from Oakland, California and one of the founding members of the alternative hip hop collective Hieroglyphics. After his debut album Fear Itself garnered both critical and commercial success, Casual went on to become one of the most prominent and recognizable faces on the Hieroglyphics roster, releasing five full-length LPs over the span of his twenty-year career. Despite the lackluster sales of the LPs following his debut, which were preceded by an absence of both critical and popular acclaim, Owens has garnered a following amongst devoted hip hop fans, particularly in the Bay Area hip hop scene, largely due to his specialization in hardcore battle rhymes.

Casual performing in 2006
Casual performing in 2006
Background information
Birth nameJon Owens
Born (1973-12-19) December 19, 1973 (age 48)
OriginOakland, California, United States
GenresHip hop
Years active1992−present


After high-profile appearances on Del tha Funky Homosapien and Souls of Mischief albums, in 1994 Casual released Fear Itself. The album was the second-highest charting album in Hieroglyphics' history. Casual followed a typical verse-chorus-verse structure but stood out with his ferocious but playful battle lyrics.[1] Casual has been acclaimed for "wielding his metaphors and sinewy delivery with lethal grace"[2]

After the release of Fear Itself, Casual (as well as fellow Hieroglyphics members Souls of Mischief) was dropped from Jive Records. Casual documents the experience in the book, Hip Hop in America: A Regional Guide: Volume 1: East Coast and West Coast:

It came about from us getting dropped from major labels, and instead of folding and succumbing to defeat, we hit the ground running. We took what we had and ran with it, we landscaped and we built something. We had to be resourceful, creative, and clever to gain our niche but's been 10 years since we've busted out independent.[3]

In 1994, Casual was involved in a high-profile battle with rapper Saafir. The beef originally started when Saafir appeared on Casual's debut album, and Casual did not appear on Saafir's. This ignited the infamous "Hiero vs Hobo Junction" battle, which involved some controversy when rumors surfaced that Saafir was using pre-written raps as opposed to Casual and Hieroglyphics expected freestyling. Despite this, it is regarded as an influential battle in underground hip-hop's history.[4]

Casual has expressed, much like the rest of the Hieroglyphics crew the importance of competition in hip hop, stating "I think that MCing should be a competitive thing, almost like a sport. The only way an MC can keep polishing and sharpening his skills is to test them against the competition and the up and coming young bloods."[5]




  • Santa Claus (2013)


  • "That's How It Is" (1993)
  • "I Didn't Mean To" (1993)
  • "Me-O-Mi-O" (1994)
  • "VIP" (1999)
  • "Blind Date" (2001)
  • "Same O.G." (2001)
  • "We Don't Get Down Like That" (2002)
  • "My Whole Intent" (2004) (with Fat Jack)
  • "Rap Game" b/w "Things I Need" (2004)
  • "Say That Then" b/w "Oaktown (Remix)" (2005)
  • "Rock My Shit" (2010)
  • "101% Music" (2010)

Guest appearancesEdit

Chart historyEdit


Year Album Billboard 200
2012 Respect Game or Expect Flames
2005 Smash Rockwell
2001 He Think He Raw
1997 Meanwhile
1993 Fear Itself 108


Year Song Hot Rap Singles Album
1999 "VIP" 43
1994 "I Didn't Mean To" Certified Gold US 34 Fear Itself
1993 "That's How It Is" 22 Fear Itself


  1. ^ Michael Dibela. "Casual Biography". Allmusic. Retrieved 2010-02-02.
  2. ^ Cheo H. Coker (March 1994). Fear Itself. Vibe Magazine. Retrieved 2010-02-03.
  3. ^ Mickey Hess (November 2009). Hip Hop in America: A Regional Guide: Volume 1: East Coast and West Coast. ABC-CLIO. ISBN 9780313343216. Retrieved 2010-02-03.
  4. ^ DJ Pizzo. "Wake Up Show: Hieroglyphics Vs. Hobo Junction Battle". Retrieved 2010-02-02.
  5. ^ Colin Larkin. "Casual Biography". The Encyclopedia of Popular Music. Retrieved 2010-02-02.

External linksEdit