[PO-HOP] Portland rapper Cassow (pronounced KAH-so, as in Picasso) has fast become known for his ability to rap thought-provoking lyrics, but it was one of his recent tweets that had a big effect on me: "Portland isn't a place for a young individual that has dreams. It's for older people that already lived theirs."

As a lifelong Portlander, those words struck a deep chord with me—is it possible to be my best here? Or is Portland just some place where young people fall into limbo? The 21-year-old Cassow suggests the latter, and it's a sentiment he shares often on his new album, Future Classic.

The album, his best release to date after two attention-grabbing mixtapes, is full of songs that detail the young MC's journey toward something greater. "They're going to love me for my dreams," he proudly proclaims on "Dreams," the album's opener. It's an admission that Cassow hasn't done anything to prove himself to date, and that his legacy won't start until his dreams become reality. Other tracks, like the slap-heavy "So Close" or the velvety "All Or Nothing," have a decided eagerness to them—full of references to future fame and lights brighter than those of the White Stag sign. 

Despite all the big-time ambition, it's easy to believe Cassow. That's because the album—from its glossy, sample-based beats courtesy of regional heavyweights like Jake One and TROX to its catchy choruses and the grainy, vintage album cover—displays a maturity and cohesiveness that's not often found in local hip-hop projects. Of course, Cassow will never leave Portland completely behind. He still raps about his childhood in Northeast; it's part of what makes him unique. But Future Classic is built for a big audience and should ignite interest on a national level. Maybe this album will help him become one of those older people in Portland, coming back home after chasing his dreams.

SEE IT: Cassow's Future Classic can be downloaded at freshselects.net.