Camp Lo is one of those groups that hip-hop heads hold near and dear. Though they have not reached the success or solidarity of their debut album Uptown Saturday Night since it dropped, they continue to have put out solid hip-hop music for over a decade. Camp Lo had “swag” before swag was cool and had style way before Kanye. With their newest offering Stone and Rob Caught on Tape the question is whether or not they have remained true to their humble beginnings or fallen victim to the pressure to of the mainstream.
Gucci Suede and Sonny Cheeba are what the today’s budding rappers hope to be. They ooze funk and soul with the way they dress to how they rhyme. The album starts with “2 Dope Booyz” produced by new comer Apple Juice Kid, who has obviously been listening to new jacks like The Cool Kids production style and adapted. Suede and Cheeba trade verses with a different voice inflection than what we are used to, which takes some getting used to. Though “Gotcha” and “Ticket 4 2” were both previously released they stand tall as two of the albums best tracks along with the Pete Rock and Styles P assisted “On Smash”. Apple Juice Kid shows his diversity as a producer lifting an Arabian sample while each emcee shows why they still are relevant 10 years later. “Ha” is reminiscent of “PSK (What Does It Mean)” with the same minimalist production as Gucci and Sonny reminisce on growing up in the Bronx. Other stand outs include “Sky Hi” produced by Smoking Apples and “Regulate” featuring soulstress Yahzarah.
The album is not without its pitfalls. Songs like “89 of Crimes”, “Pips”, and “After the Marv” just don’t seem to fit the fellas style. They have abandoned the 70’s blaxploitation sampling that made Camp Lo so likeable for a generic keyboard sound. You can’t necessarily blame Suede and Cheeba for this, but more producer Apple Juice Kid. This critic loves to see groups step out of the box for an album, but unfortunately it doesn’t work for Rob and Stone. The album seems to have no real direction and the lack of cohesive production persuades you to skip to the tracks that fit the Camp Lo sound.
Rob and Stone is not one of the best Camp Lo albums, but it’s good to see that the fellas haven’t given up like many of their colleagues from that era (anybody seen Cru?). Unfortunately however, this album goes in the pile of talented emcees that make forgettable albums. – DG
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