Isaac Castor is a student of the game. The 20-year-old MC from Ann Arbor, Mich. grew up listening to some of the greats—Hov, OutKast, 2Pac. As a high school freshman, Castor was deemed a local prodigy when he dropped "Act Right" featuring Big Pooh, formally of Little Brother. Five years later, Castor is looking to stake his claim as "the next big thing from Michigan."

In early November, Castor dropped a new project entitled High Art, produced entirely by Arjun Singh. He told XXL about how surreal it felt when he opened a hard-copy mag while working at a grocery store and saw his name in one of the reviews. Read more about Castor in The Break and keep an eye on the 734 native as his stock continues to rise.—Eli Schwadron

Name: Isaac Castor

Age: 20

Hometown: Ann Arbor, Mich.

I grew up listening to: I grew up listening to just about everything. I had pretty young parents, so they were really into Phish and Grateful Dead and that kind of jam band type stuff. But then also, my dad was a huge hip-hop head in high school, so I grew up listening to OutKast and 2Pac and Jay-Z and a lot of stuff like that, ‘cause my dad put me on to that stuff. So that really helped me dip my toes into the world of hip-hop.

Most people don’t know: Something that most people don’t know about me I guess that I used to go by the name Gameboi. I had a pretty good following while I was in high school going by that alias. And I made the name switch to Isaac Castor when I turned 18. That’s my government name and I feel like there still might be a lot of people out there wondering,"What happened to that Gameboi kid?" So my hope is that we can re-introduce him with this new project that just dropped, High Art.

My style’s been compared to: I’ve heard a lot of comparisons in the past. I’m not gonna be that corny person that says, "I don’t sound like anyone," because comparisons are gonna be made at the end of the day. Recently, I’ve heard Logic. I think just because we both have kind of nasally voices, we kind of rap on a lot more underground-style beats and we tend to rap in a rapid-fire style of flow and approach. So I’ve been hearing that one a lot, but in the past I’ve actually heard Asher Roth a lot. I guess ‘cause we’re both White. And one that really intrigued me in the past was Lupe Fiasco, which was awesome to hear, because he was a big inspiration to me growing up. I was in like fifth grade when [Food and Liquor] dropped, and it turned my life upside down.

My standout records and/or moments to date have been: I guess my standout record would be the first one that really put me on the map. I dropped it when I was a freshman in high school. It was called “Act Right.” It was featuring rapper Big Pooh formally of Little Brother and produced by 14KT, who’s a producer from out here. That started turning a lot of heads. But then more recently, I would say, the first single I dropped off this project called “Arizona” with Boldy James, who’s a rapper from Detroit who’s signed to Nas. That’s been a standout for me, ‘cause it was my first super high-budget music video shoot, so that was an experience. Another standout moment for me would be being in XXL for the first time. When I was featured on Statik Selektah’s album “Population Control,” XXL wrote a review of the album and one of the positive points was they pointed out my verse on “High Life,” and that was really cool to see. I was working at a grocery store at the time, and I opened up the magazine and saw [my name]. So that was pretty surreal.

My goal in hip-hop is: To help brighten up peoples’ lives. Because that’s really what music’s been for me. It’s helped me through a lot of tough times. I want to be able to make a living off it, but at the end of the day, I could be dead broke, and as long as there are still people out there who are getting something positive from it and making them feel good, helping them get through their day, then that’s all I can really ask for. That’s probably my main end goal.

I’m going to be the next: Big thing from Michigan. In addition to wanting to make people happy with my music, I also want to be able to put on for, not just the Ann Arbor hip-hop scene, I rep 734 everywhere I go. But I really just want to put on for the state. I want to be somebody who can represent Michigan as a whole and put us on the map. ‘Cause we’re already there. We’ve got so much talent that’s blowing up right now, between Big Sean doing the halftime show at the Lions game, that’s crazy. And then DeJ Loaf is blowing up, and etc.

Follow Isaac Castor on Twitter plus check out their SoundCloud.

Standouts: High Art


"Insert Coins"

"Act Right"