Listen to Coal
“I am your friendly neighborhood rebel. I may have planted the Molotov and I’m by any means necessary, but you can still come over and watch the game,” says Curly Castro. The charismatic Brooklyn native who has called Philadelphia home for over a decade is easily perceived both militant and friendly. He dons Malcolm X tattoos and army fatigues, but he’s quick to beam laughter or break into song during a performance. “On stage I’m part Red Foxx, part Che Guevara. That’s why it’s ‘Curly Castro,’” explains the rhyme vet. “’Curly’ is my playful side – that’s what the ladies call me. ‘Castro’ is the rebel out there with the guerillas in the forest.”
On the verge of releasing his solo debut Fidel with Man Bites Dog Records, Castro stresses that “intelligence is not a handicap” in his art and writing. “Some people name-drop cars, others name-drop books; I name-drop Black icons – everyday people that you should know,” admits Curly of his cause.
A product of the 1980s Bucktown, Castro also wants to recreate the grit that’s made him unique. “I’m the smell of the bridge, the crack viles floating by the drain, the pay-phone heist, I like to bring that stuff back in my music, as an homage to Flatbush.”
With so much density in his writing and stage-show, Curly – who has worked extensively with troubled youth, wants to improve humanity. “We have to conquer racism, we have to conquer sexism, we have to conquer Black opinions on homosexuality and interracial dating – these are big issues that we just skirt over.” Like the man who worked for years crafting away on the effort, Fidel refuses to go quietly. The friendly neighborhood rebel might just save the day.