Review of Mike Oregano's Hustlin' EP

DISCLAIMER: Everyone is entitled to his or her own opinion. All music is subjective to the listener. Feel free to leave comments or your own opinion! Thanks! 

The line Every Day I'm Hustlin' describes the music and work ethic of New Jersey based multi-instrumentalist, rapper and Rasta man Mike Oregano (Mike Castiglia) perfectly. For his unique live performances, Oregano not only plays guitar while singing/rapping, but he also plays a kick drum/cymbal with one foot, a snare drum with the other foot AND uses looping pedals. Wow... talk about being ambidextrous! I wish I could do all of that at one time! On his newest release Hustlin', he seamlessly blends together reggae, rap and jazz into a truly original cohesive unit that works surprisingly well.

On the opening track Hustlin', he samples the song Everyday I'm Hustlin' by Rick Ross. Oregano actually constructed an entire beat from scratch (guitar, bass, keys, drums and organ) and put Ross's voice over that by slowing it down to match! That takes some skill. His rasta-like rhymes are strong while he exudes a sense of swagger and confidence. He adds a reggae inspired twist to the original track by including some delayed guitar that creates an ambient atmosphere. He was able to creatively transform the sample and make it his own.

The second track Lion samples the song Iron Bars by Stephen Marley. He does not alter the sample that much, but chooses to loop a short section of the song over and over again without it becoming boring and that super funky drum beat keeps the track's energy up. For the chorus, he samples the line Let me out, let me out. I'm an angry lion. He cannot be contained in this one. Around 2:16, Oregano unleashes a blistering solo while using his trusty talk-box for added coolness (watch out Peter Frampton). He is truly a one man reggae band.

The third track Peace Up opens up with the oh so sweet Caribbean sound of steelpans. His lyrics discuss the problems that human beings face and how we can work together to change them. Just be kind and bring the peace up! The fat hip-hop beat that starts around 30 seconds makes me want to bob my head up and down. The swelling synth in the background adds some variety and color to the track. When I listen to this one I feel like I am driving down the streets of  Los Angeles in a Ferrari with the windows down whilst sipping on a coconut. That's the life right there. Super duper reggae-inspired vibes on this track.

The final track is called The Message - Live Demo. The music itself gives off a laid-back vibe reminiscent of Bob Marley's stuff, but the words are much heavier. His lyrics deal with how young adults are becoming overwhelmed by the negativity of the world and turn to drugs as a way to escape these problems. Very moving and truthful.

The production on this EP is very professional and I enjoy the way it is mixed. Not too shimmery, but not too lo-fi either. A perfect balance of the two. I am excited to see what else Mike Oregano has in store for us in the future. Check out the links down below and if you get the chance please see his live performances and support local music!

Mike Oregano is currently based in South River, New Jersey.


Score: 8.5/10 

Favorite track: "Peace Up"

Track Listing:
1. Hustlin'
2. Lion
3. Peace Up
4. The Message - Live Demo

Listen to the EP here:


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