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Camp Lo: Black Hollywood

Why aren’t Camp Lo rap superstars? Was it producer Ski letting Jay-Z rock some of those beats instead? Is all that slick rhyming with the ultra-cool deliveries just passé? There aren’t any real answers to the questions posed but thankfully for their fans, the duo of Geechi Suede and Sonny Cheeba return with their third full-length effort Black Hollywood (Good Hands/Traffic). And keep it Hollywood they do.Even if you don’t feel like being bothered or are just plain weary of their relevance now, Camp Lo has a certain classic in their discography with their stunning, Ski produced, blaxploitation revitalizing debut Uptown Saturday Night. But after hits like “Coolie High” and “Luchini (This Is It),” Camp Lo wouldn’t release another album for five years, the tepid at best received Let’s Do It Again. Despite the majority of the album’s production again being helmed by Ski (now Ski Beatz) the album lacked the vibrancy of their debut. Now with Black Hollywood, Ski Beatz’ grooves are up to the high standards he’s set. On the opener “Posse From The Bronx” Geechi and Sonny lyrically let you know there ain’t anything sweet about them over rugged drums. At least, you think so because their heavy slanguage is so dense it’s borderline indecipherable. But the delivery is so agile you might not even care. They continue to rock bells on the Run-DMC’ish “Pushahoe” and weave a cinematic ‘hood tale on “Jack N’ Jill.”The Lo is still at their best when in a vintage, Superfly meets Style Wars vibe. They freak a sly flute collage on “Suga Willie’s Revenge” and a sultry vocal assembly on “Soul Fever.” The soul cinema sounds are way more upfront than on Lets Do It Again, though not as blatant as on their debut. It’s a good move since it helps  prove they’re mettle as talented mc’s versus two dudes with an excellent gimmick. Unfortunately a number of the songs on this album have been around for a while. “82 Afros,” “Suga Willie’s Revenge,” and “Ganja Lounge” are a few songs that Camp Lo fiends surely found if they were able to nab the pairs Fort Apache mixtape. The only other beef is the Tevin Campbell interloping “Material” which falls flat.Black Hollywood is an entertaining flick, though it just doesn’t have any groundbreaking songs that could push Camp Lo past talented also rans. Nevertheless, Emerald Suede and Diamond Cheeba’s inimitable stylings serve as a nice alternative to rap minstrelsy and even overbearing conscious acts. Stubbornly, and pretty successfully, keeping to their rap lane, Camp Lo is a testament to Hip-Hop’s infinite possibilities.

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