Camp Lo

Black Hollywood

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Camp Lo, the Bronx rap duo who authored the 1997 throwback rap classic "Luchini aka This Is It," made an unexpected, and quite refreshing, return in 2007 with Black Hollywood. Camp Lo's return was unexpected because the duo (i.e., Geechi Suede and Sonny Cheeba) had dropped off after the indifferent reaction to their previous album, sophomore effort Let's Do It Again (2002). Part of the reason Let's Do It Again was met so indifferently was because of the five-year gap distancing it from its predecessor, the debut album Uptown Saturday Night (1997). Camp Lo faced the same fate with Black Hollywood, which, like Let's Do It Again, was a half-decade distanced from its predecessor. No question about it, five years is a lifetime in rap terms; in fact, few rappers see their career endure five years' time total. What helps make Black Hollywood feel welcome in 2007, and more likely to be embraced than Let's Do It Again was, is the presence of producer Ski (aka Ski Beatz), who gets visible billing here. Ski was the original Camp Lo producer, the guy who programmed the beats of "Luchini" as well as "Coolie High," another highlight from Uptown Saturday Night. Moreover, Ski has become increasingly recognized for his other 1990s productions, most famous among them Jay-Z classics "Dead Presidents II," "Politics as Usual," and "Streets Is Watchin'." And indeed, Ski brings his classic, sample-laced early-'90s production style to every second of the 35-minute Black Hollywood, which alone may be reason enough for some hip-hop aficionados to give the album a listen. As for the raps of Geechi Suede and Sonny Cheeba, they're as distinct as they were ten years prior. The guys aren't ace rappers, admittedly, but they're certainly unique in terms of flow, cadence, and attitude; in general, the mélange of '70s blaxploitation motifs they so often riff upon seems less interesting than how they spit their rhymes. Just as Camp Lo were a breath of fresh air in 1997 circa "Luchini" (the height of gangsta rap, if you recall), their reunion with Ski on Black Hollywood in 2007 is refreshing, coming as it did at a time when rap was as creatively stagnant, if not in recession, as it had ever been. The album's highlights (e.g., "82 Afros," "Soul Fever," "Black Hollywood") don't reach the heights of "Luchini," yet at 12 tracks, Black Hollywood is succinct and never dull -- again, in clear contrast to concurrent rap efforts, which are single-driven and terribly overlong.

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