Written By Madison Stone in collaboration with Gabrielle Jackson
Charlotte rapper Casino P is fresh in the Carolina music scene. He’s released several singles since his debut as a serious artist in 2019, all of which have garnered him respect in the industry. His smooth, grungy style is showcased in both his music and fashion—he’s gearing up to release merch soon—and is inspired by Charlotte and the hip-hop greats the city has produced throughout the years.
With an impressive number of accomplishments already under his belt and the promise of more to come, Casino P is certainly worth keeping an eye on as he climbs the ranks of Charlotte rap.
Last week, Casino spoke with Level21 about his inspirations, progress, goals, and future plans—but first, what about his unique name?
Turns out, Casino P is short for Casino Prince, which the rapper told us was inspired by decades of family history. “My grandfather and my dad both worked in the casino hotel industry for, like, a combination of 80 years,” he said. “My grandfather moved from North Carolina to Atlantic City, NJ, and worked in the casino industry at Bally’s for about 50 years. My dad worked in a couple of different spots about 30 years.
“I just looked at myself—at the lessons they taught me. I see myself as the prince, third generation. So, I came up with the name Casino P.”
Casino wasn’t just inspired by his dad and grandfather. His affinity for music came both from his mom and being raised a typical Charlotte kid. As he grew up in the city, he said that “[music] was always around me. My mom was a dancer, and she was in this dance troupe, and I used to play the drums for them as a kid.”
From then, it was a natural progression: “That led me to saxophone, clarinet, and singing, and then rapping just kind of came through the development of all of that—just being a kid and living life. Growing up down South… you’re always gonna be around [music].”
Charlotte’s rich history of hip-hop and rap is what gives Casino his own unique style. Drawing from greats such as Anthony Hamilton, Jay Cole, and John Contrane, Casino has successfully created his own sound. “I always say, growing up in North Carolina, when I looked at how our music comes across, it’s always very soulful,” he said. “If you dig into the history, you get a lot of soul from North Carolina. When you look at our rap as a whole, it’s very soulful.”
When it comes to his own sound, Casino does well to combine the history that inspired him and his own personal tastes—his unique perspective, cool style, and rich culture–into a unique genre he’s appropriately dubbed ‘soul rap.’
He’s worked hard on creating this unique sound for himself, but he acknowledges this approach might not be the most popular. Casino’s music isn’t like what makes it big on the radio, but that individuality and ability to get around the gimmicky nature of rap is something he’s proud of.
This desire to stay true to himself is a noble and ambitious one, and it’s something he learned from watching the successes of others. When we asked him about his inspirations, he didn’t take long to come up with an answer.
“Honestly,” he said, “I get the most inspiration from Dom Kennedy. I think the reason is because of his lifestyle and how he brands himself. He approaches hip hop in a way where he can just authentically be himself. He doesn’t have to put on a persona or sell us an image. It can just be him, and he still gets recognized and respected in the game.”
Building on this, Casino expressed his desire to be more than just a great creator of content. “The music is…”—he paused here, searching for the right words—”the music still has to be there, but the music is just a part of it. It just makes everything else spread. You have to use it in the right way.” That way, simply put, is to be true to yourself as an artist.
Casino explained that the way he creates his music helps keep him from becoming something he’s not. He pulls from his own experiences, creativity, emotions to write, which he said is the easiest way to do it. “When I have something on my chest and I’m trying to figure out why I feel that way, I just start writing,” he said. “I might find out why I feel that way, or I feel better just because I released something.”
In this way, Casino creates music and lyrics that are personal to himself, giving his work a refreshingly genuine and personal nature that other creators lack.
That work includes singles such as the smooth “Good, Bad & Ugly,” the lyrically driven “Let the Beat Breathe,” and his newest hit, “22,” which was retweeted by Phoenix Suns center DeAndre Ayton, whom the song references. Casino is also preparing to drop an official music video for his song “LB Patch.” The video, which has a teaser out on Casino P’s YouTube channel, is scheduled to come out on September 8.
Casino spoke about his excitement for the video, which features things that are close to him personally, saying that he “was just trying to put a little bit of my culture and my development in the video. We’ve got some Bojangles scenes. We’ve got some homies; we’ve got some Loverboy merch.”
Loverboy, we learned, is the brand Casino is building for himself, which “LB Patch” is named after. Between his rapping career and his love for fashion, the Loverboy brand is something Casino has been using to get his name and talents out into the world.
The brand has been years in the making, though, and it’s gone through some recent revamping. “We originated as Abundant Living. That was the original name, and I was going with that until about 2015,” Casino said. “And then one day in April 2019, I got this idea. I had a Loverboy design, and I made a shirt with that design, and the way people gravitated to it… I just had to keep going. I put them out last summer, and people have been going crazy over them. I’ve been riding the wave, but I had no plans on that going as well as it did.”
“We’re working on the website right now,” he told us when asked where to find his Loverboy merch. “I’m about to put out a little collection for the fall and winter.” You can also visit Casino’s Instagram, @thecasinop, to find a link for the merch.
Near the end of the interview, we found ourselves circling back to the Carolinas and their rich culture—fitting, considering how central that culture has been to Casino’s own music and development. The sound of the Carolinas is everything Casino has expressed he wants to be: “It’s something unique and authentic to ourselves,” he said. “I don’t think it makes much sense to people who aren’t here. It’s that soul… that consciousness. When you hear it and you see it and feel it and are familiar with it, it means a little bit more for you, especially when you go somewhere else and see other people’s reactions.
“I remember going to New York one time and they played DaBaby’s song. And I just watched everybody’s reaction like—man, DaBaby’s from my city. I remember seeing this guy walk around my city. And the way people were dancing and bobbing to his songs… it let me know that Carolina has something special.”
Although he grew up in Charlotte for 21 years, Casino admits that moving to Greensboro has left him less in tune with the Charlotte scene than he’d like. “I feel like I need to tap back into the culture,” he said, “and really understand where I’m at and what I need to give to the culture. That’s gonna take some time.”
Casino is by no means at a standstill as he works to tap back into his roots, though. When we asked if he had any special projects on the way beyond the “LB Patch” music video, he had exciting news: “I’ve got some videos being dropped in September, early October. We’ve got the merch coming. We’re gonna get back into the music, and around November or December we’re gonna have a couple of singles or even a short EP for you guys.”
As for his ultimate goal? “I’m gonna give something back to the lovers,” he said. “I just want to give something back—just put some love out there and let everybody know it’s okay. You can love again. You can trust again. You can build again. It’s okay.”
You can find Casino P’s music on Spotify, Apple Music, Tidal, and YouTube. Soundcloud – https://soundcloud.com/casinop