This is the long-awaited sophomore album from Detroit emcee Isaac Castor. Coming up in 2010 under the original moniker Gameboi, he would go on drop 4 mixtapes & 3 EPs prior to signing to the local underground hip hop powerhouse Middle Finger Music following its formation 8 years later. He then enlisted the label’s co-founder Foul Mouth behind the boards for his full-length debut The Rabbit Hole a month after the world stopped due to the COVID-19 pandemic & both parties are reuniting to deliver a sequel in light of the predecessor’s 3-year anniversary in just a couple months.
“The Sequel” is a psychedelic boom bap opener with Isaac responding to those asking where he’s been all this time prior to Marv Won assisting him on “75 South” talking about how nobody puts it down the way they do accompanied by some keys, kicks & snares. “Eye See” has a more sample-based sound basically touching on life being as wonderful as it is & destined for greatness leading into the dusty “Admit It” comparing his raps to that of pure, uncut coke.
Moving onto “Tourniquet”, we have the Gameboi over a darker instrumental talking about pulling up to murder shit just before Jypsy tags along for the bluesy “Vamanos Pest” dropping some lethal bars for anyone who dares to step up to either one of them in a rap battle. “Nosebleeds” dives into more jazzier territory encouraging the goofy asses to walk back, but then “Cliffhanger” returns to the boom bap once again getting loose at the venues they shut down.
Dango Forlaine & Ronnie Alpha both tag along for the cutthroat “Napalm 8Ball” so all 3 MCs can flex their lyrical prowesses while “Smoke All Night” switches things up with a mystic trap beat & the subject matter of Isaac professing his love for weed is relatable to any stoner including myself. “Power of the Mind” instrumentally has a bit of a J Dilla influence to it advising that one is unable to front on titular topic while “Riddim” with Bang Belushi has a woozily dope sample flip as the pair go on to belittle their opposition.
Meanwhile with “Fall from Grace”, the production & DJ Skyrah’s hypnotic chorus give me quite a bit of Portishead vibes setting the course for Speak of the Devil’s upcoming debut as Xtra Overdoze joins Isaac talk about being stitched together kin to pain & pleasure while “Grand Prix” with Fatt Father & Guilty Simpson is a rock/boom bap crossover toasting champagne off the Grand Haven Pier as long as his people are by his side. The song “Studio Vibe” with Bizarre is a mellower cut bringing exactly that while the crooning penultimate track “Still in the Hole” admits he’s finding the steps to climb out to the hole he’s still in. “Yes (Intro in Reverse)” comes through with a horn-inflicted closer attacking wack rappers 1 last time.
Considering the 3 year gap between this & the Gameboi’s full-length debut, it had me anticipating to hear how much dude has grown as artist since then & I happen to enjoy this sequel as much if not more than predecessor. Isaac sounds even hungrier than he did last time with the features all being as well-picked & the production that Foul Mouth cooks up is more eclectic in sound from boom bap to jazz rap & trap. Middle Finger Music always has something exciting going on & The Rabbit Hole 2 is just the beginning of their 2023.