While Camp Lo, Uptown Saturday Night made the Billboard Hot 100 it is still easily one of hip-hop’s most unknown classic albums. Since I mentioned it in a previous post I felt obligated to bring write a post about them.
Actually, I am not going to write about Camp Lo. I will introduce them with a quote from how I was introduced to their music;
“Yo, you haven’t heard Camp Lo?? Here, check them out. They’re dope”
old fort at NSB
The kid skating is doing some sick slappy curb stuff, but the music… It sounds like 90’s era West Coast hip-hop, but the structure is East Coast(ish) as well some elements such as horns, piano and the collective/collaboration format. It is surprising that I had not heard of Hieroglyphics, collective out of Oakland, California. The best comparison would probably be Camp Lo (I will post about them later, but another underground favorite.)
Growing up in Florida in the 90’s the knowledge base for “scene” music was very regional. We all knew the East and West coast hardcore, punk, emo and ska bands as well as possessing an encyclopedic knowledge of traditional ska. Underground Hip-Hop, Rap, Bounce, or whatever you want to call it, was incredibly hard to find in the 90’s. Obviously, since I am just now hearing about Hieroglyphics. This is an excellent album, 95%.
Originally self-released and sold at their European shows back in ’93 (Wiki) this album propelled the Roots onto commercial success. While relatively unknown, this is one of hip-hop’s cornerstone albums bridging the gap between “old school” and 90’s era rap.
The Roots have a drummer. That’s how good they are. They’re jazz influenced with spoken word parts, Rahzel was with them… they are so much a part of hip-hop that they can and do reject the whole “bling” factor that defiles so much of the genre.
I hunted for years for this album, when it was re-released in 1998 I bought it… and was profoundly disappointed. It isn’t a hip-hop release that grabs the listener, it is more art. Now, nineteen years later it is apparent that this is one of the albums that bridged the gap between old school, free-styling rap (like The Sugar Hill Gang) and the commercially marketed sound that dominates pop culture.
Organix! is a must have for the serious digital music collection, and for the same reasons as Benny Goodman, Beetoven and Elvis, while not everyone’s cup of tea it’s still good music.