Camp Lo's interesting, aren't they? Their debut, Uptown Saturday Night is dope as all hell, and five years later, their sophomore joint Let's Do It Again is fit to be used as a frisbee. Despite this 50% success rate, people still love 'em. It's what I like to call Method Man syndrome - you know they're dope as fuck, but they've released some wack shit.
Continuing with the tradition of releasing an album every five years, Camp Lo's back with Black Hollywood. If you're expecting Uptown Saturday Night, you'd be wrong. If you're expecting Let's Do it Again, you'd be wrong as well. What you've got with Black Hollywood is something in between. The album begins the very funky "Posse From the Bronx." The track dripping with swag, as is the next one, "82 Afros," which features some really trippy guitar-fueled production. Things continue to go well with "Soul Fever," which features a soulful (as the song title indicates), laid back sound, as Geechi and Sonny's lighthearted lyrics go hand in hand with the production.
The first misstep in the album is "Pushahoe." Lazy rhymes coupled with uninspired production and an extremely annoying chorus make this one a snore. The album quickly gets back on track, however, with "Jack N' Jill." Easily the darkest track on the album, it is also far and away its best. A very gritty tale, the song is performed over an unsettling musical backdrop with amazing storytelling: "Here's a story about a kid named Jack/He roll around the city, he thinking that he da mac/Mix a little cess with a little smack/When he sees a little dress, he gotta attack/Prefer little girls, wanna lick on they pearl/Give 'em a little liquor then he take their panties down.../Kinky nigga, chokin' 'em that's how he sex 'em down." It's a difficult decision which story is bleaker, Jill's or Jack's; one thing's for sure - the apathy with which they are told will send chills down your spine.
The rest of the album is far more lighthearted. "Material" and "Money Clap" are both fairly entertaining odes to the more physical pleasures the world has to offer, while the stereotypical "Ganja Lounge" falls flat due to predictable production. The title track is refreshingly soulful, and would've been an excellent point to end the album. Unfortunately, Camp Lo chose "Sweet Claudine" - possibly the corniest track to ever grace this writer's ears. Elementary lyricism that leads nowhere, combined with Howdy Doody-sounding production makes this possibly the worst track on the album.
If you considered Camp Lo's 50% success rate, you could really chalk this up as a win for them. However, you and I know that the majority of Hip Hop fans judge an artist by what they're capable of. In that sense, this album is underwhelming. It's certainly not a loss, as Black Hollywood features several gems, but hardcore fans are unlikely to be satisfied by this offering.