Okay, let’s start with the easy question: Who the fuck is Brian Fresco? He’s part of the Save Money collective out of Chicago. The same group that spawned the #1 indie rapper of our time, Chance the Rapper. And also gave us Joey Purp and Vic Mensa. So, yeah, they know a little about hip hop.

Unlike most of his bandmates, Fresco’s rhymes tend to be more gutter. A little more street. Not totally grimey, not totally gutter, but enough of a G to pull of lines like, “All she really needed was a little bit of liquor, and her ass got thicker and her pimp game triggered…”

And of course Chance the Rapper appears, on the lead single “Higher,” and drops some verses that are easily as good as his best stuff. Very generous. It must be a testament to his support for Fresco.

This is Brian Fresco’s second release this year, following up on his “Mafioso” mixtape (which I’ve included below). That one had more guest spots and felt like a more traditional mixtape. It was still very good–better than most of what you’ll hear these days–but it’s not as revelatory as Casanova. Casanova is a collection of singles, to be sure, like most rap albums. The general hip hop audience doesn’t have an ear for albums so much these days. But for the heads, it will feel like a true album. Fresco’s autotune, which he uses generously, changes tonally throughout, moving from light to heavy and back again. There’s tough swagger, lots of it, but stuck inside are personal tracks like “Dandelion,” hidden tight to protect their vulnerability.

“God damn I love me, nobody I’d rather be…”

I can’t say how much I appreciate a rapper who truly loves himself. It’s not a brag or a boast. It’s not a defense. It feels real. He knows life is hard, but he’s finding what he loves–mostly drinking, smoking, and big booty women–and making the most of it, getting all he can out of the short time he’s here. Who knows if Fresco will blow up like his friends Chance and Joey Purp. All I can say is, based on Casanova, he deserves to.

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