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CAMP LO: Stone And Rob: Caught On Tape – 2009 – Album review

[rating: 2.5]

The title of this was presumably intended to evoke the word ‘caught’ in the sense of, “That was flames! Lucky we caught Stone and Rob on tape!” – which is a pity, because there’s far more of a sense of, “Whoa – Camp Lo got caught releasing half-baked shit on tape,” about it. According to net rumour (so maybe best not to give it too much credence – if any), a new Camp Lo studio LP and follow-up to 2007’s very dope Black Hollywood, entitled A Piece Of The Action is forthcoming and, if I’ve understood things correctly, Stone And Rob… is meant to be a stopgap between and the two. And ‘stopgap’ is exactly the right term. This sounds like a collection of B-sides and outtakes that have been thrown together in one of those meeting-label-obligations manouevres. One of very few exceptions is the full-on street-gritty 2 Dope Boyz. But this is the first track and when an LP starts with something of this calibre you know one of two things: either the LP is a stone classic – or that nothing that follows will match up. In this case, it’s the second. But let’s deal with 2 Dope Boyz first, a banger that ramraids its way into your consciousness with the refrain, “Two dope boys in a paddy-wagon/ Getting crushed by a building,” over a super-heavy beat and distorted bassline. I’m not going to argue with that. Apple Juice Kid gets props for production on this one and he is also behind the only other two half-decent tracks on the LP. It’s really noticeable on this how the Kid’s production is the most varied and inventive (it’s him after all who lays down the dub groove of 89 Of Crime) – it might not always work but at least he’s having a go eh? Elsewhere on Stone & Rob… handclap snares dominate to the extent of drowning Sonnie Cheeba and Geechie Suede’s lyrics at times. ”Can I get a soul clap…” asks one of the duo on Sky Hi to which the correct response is ‘Fuck no, please not again.’
Gotcha is a hideous smoove soul-drenched number that sounds like it was shat out as an afterthought by whoever’s doing bland mainstream rnb-hop at the minute, On Smash is a minimal boom-clap effort that desperately needs a hook. Pips is peppered with an irritating vocal loop of what sounds like ”Choo-choo” and collapses exhausted at just over a minute and a half. Ticket 4 2 and After The Marv plough two different kinds of champagne-and-chicks paths, both equally tedious and Ha goes back to the boom clap – which, with its shuffling hi-hat, I wouldn’t even mind were it not spoilt by the repetition of the word Ha far more regularly than is necessary.
Regulate kicks off with a female vocal hook by Yahzarah and then drops some fuzzed-up guitars, it could do with some tidying up but it’s basically not too bad, Diamond Crookz is a three and a half minute cocktail-jazz based yawn. This leaves Future which, with horn swells and more chilled rhyming, actually sounds like a last track but comes before the actual last track which is the second best track here. Hold On (a sentiment that may well be too late for some listeners) has, in common with 2 Dope Boyz, a sense that it’s had more than five minutes spent on both production (a low-fi funk groove) and lyrics. Between them, the first and last tracks form two halves of a palatable bun with a half-assed filling that can’t decide what flavour it wants to be.
Out now on Soul Fever Inc.

Listen to CAMP LO – Stone And Rob: Caught On Tape

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