Camp Lo, Black Hollywood (Good Hands, 2007)
Back in the late '90s, Camp Lo were the other group produced by Ski, the guy who did some of the great shit on the first Jay-Z album. Obviously they didn't go on to dominate the rap game and become world conquering fake business tycoons, but their 1997 debut Uptown Saturday Night is regarded by many as a lost classic of the era. Unless they did something in the interim that flew beneath my radar, this is their first major release since then.
POSSE FROM THE BRONX
Yep, the vocal sample is from "My Philosophy." The beat sounds like the score from Shaft by way of that Beavis and Butthead movie. To tell you the truth, I find it kinda meh, though it's nice to hear these two back trading verses.
Who knew that the first few seconds of "I Just Want to Celebrate," or whatever it's called would make such a great (er, pretty good) hip-hop beat? I just wish this was longer, especially since the album itself isn't very long.
Calls to mind that one song Jay-Z had out the summer before Vol. 1 came out (not to dig too deep into rap history!), but more boring.
A variation on the old "Take Me to Mardi Gras" break. Purposely old school-sounding without being too obvious about it, which must be difficult to pull off these days. Again, I could use more actual raps on this. I mean, it's only been 10 years now since their last proper full-length. Nullus.
SUGA WILLIE'S REVENGE
Somewhere in between "Posse from the Bronx" and "82 Afros." There's an extra '90s-era flute loop and a guitar stab that give it a certain degree of dynamics, but otherwise I find this fairly generic-sounding. It's hilarious the way they say "Suga Willie" though.
JACK N JILL
Kinda subdued and not particularly '70s-sounding. It would make for a nice change of pace, except for the fact that it's not particularly interesting otherwise. As far as rap cautionary tales go, I find this one a bit corny, but what are you gonna do?
Oh god know, a Tevin Campbell sample on an '07-era rap record. To tell you the truth, I find this more in the vein of MF Doom looping up Sade records than, I don't know, something worse and more cynical, but I don't know. These guys are aware he's teh ghey, right?
As much as I'd like to think they're being ironic, I'm pretty sure this is just the lamest and least inspired rap song about how much money someone has since whatever the last one was.
Rap songs about smoking weed are never really bad, I guess that's because that's the one thing pretty much everyone our generation is passionate about. This one is a bit more reliant on the groove than whatever Camp Lo can bring to it, but I'm sure it's way better when you're fucked up.
The anticlimactic title track. The main horn figure repeats way too often. Maybe if they let it drop out during the verses or something. Compare this to something like UGK's "International Player's Anthem," itself hardly the triumph the hipster community would have you believe, but still a way more effective take on this sort of thing.
This should be boring, late-album filler, but I find it has an infectious old school thump to it, not unlike the stuff Masta Ace was putting out back when he got into making a lot of West Coast-sounding stuff, back in the early to mid '90s.
Reminds me of that one god-awful song Ghostface did with Hi-Tek, probably mostly on account of their titles. Thankfully, there's no elderly black guy taking the chorus. This one is actually a fairly sweet love song, for a couple of guys who traffic in so much pimp talk.
COMMENTS: I know, the last thing anyone on the Internets wants to hear is how I find yet another rap album somewhat of a disappointment. Sorry. To Camp Lo's credit, this is more of a disappointment in the sense that it's been so long since we've heard from them and you'd think they could've come up with more than this in the time that they had than it is a genuine pain to listen to. None of these beats are really bad, but are any of them on the same level of the stuff Ski was putting out circa '96? And I suppose Camp Lo's rappin' was always as much about style as it was substance, but still. They could've come a bit harder than they did here.