Jon Owens (born December 19, 1975), better known by his stage name Casual, is a hip-hop/rap artist from Oakland, California and one of the founding members of the alternative hip hop collective Hieroglyphics. After his debut album,Fear Itselfgarnered 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 twelve year career. Owens has garnered a following amongst devoted hip hop fans, particarularly in the Bay Area hip hop scene, largely due to his specialization in hardcore battle rhymes.
In 1994, Casual was involved in a high profile battle with rapperSaafir. The beef originally started when Saafir appeared on Casual's debut album, and 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.
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.".
Casual contributed considerably to both Hieroglyphics albums 3rd Eye Vision (1998) and Full Circle (2003), and is typically found rapping on as well as producing tracks on almost all Hieroglyphics-related releases. While staying mostly on the underground scene and not achieving significant commercial success aside from his debut, Casual is widely respected as an MC, even appearing on the artwork for A Tribe Called Quest's album Midnight Marauders.
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