It’s great to see and hear a group move with the times rather than getting stuck in a rut, many rappers from the 90s and 00s can’t help but hark back, endlessly making music that is no longer relevant. How fantastic it is then, to hear a group like Camp Lo move away from what made them golden era greats and towards something new. Okay, so the duo released On The Way Uptown late last year featuring some classic unreleased material, they even dropped a trilogy of mixtapes this month which also included some old material (A Piece Of The Action 1, 2, and 3) and even 2015’s Ragtime Hightimes contained some old-school sounds, but their latest release The Get Down Brothers goes in a completely different direction. This album is unashamedly electronic, yes there’s that slick mid-90s flow we all know and love (there’s even some autotune) but the way the whole thing comes together it’s like a breath of fresh air especially after listening to the other release today from another 90s group (The Wu-Tang Clan).
Lyrically, The Get Down Brothers contains everything we love about Camp Lo. Their slick, surreal rhymes are ever present but instead of marrying them with typical mid-90s production, they are given a post-modern treatment; sounds that are both retro and modern. With dumbed-down Trap or golden era-reminiscing Boom Bap being the Hip-Hop soundscape of today, this unique combination of flawless flow, catchy hooks and uptempo electronic beats is very refreshing. I’m listening to this album on Spotify right now and it’s without a doubt a great listen. Since Spotify doesn’t state who the producer or producers are, I can’t credit them but I’ll say that whoever it is, they have definitely brought something original that brilliantly compliments Camp Lo’s style.
The album begins with “Genie Alert” which contains an overtly electronic sound mixed with the highly skilled delivery and flow you expect from the Lo. This is a track you can play at the club, in the car, right now I’m nodding my head back and forth like a motherfucker and I’m sat with my headphones on.
“Crocket & Tubs” is next and like the Miami Vice title suggests, it has a slightly 80s feel but thankfully again, it’s in a Postmodern way. And this becomes a trend of the entire album; it somehow manages to sound old and new simultaneously, in a way that I haven’t heard since Vinnie Paz‘ “Blood Addiction” (albeit with a slightly different aesthetic).
“Love Is Love” is another “old yet new” sounding track, the chorus may feature a robotic vocal but it manages to stay on the right side of mainstream, and yet even with its 8-bit computer sounds, it’s catchy as hell and far from corny.
To say that the entire album is “electronic” may sound like it’s repetitive but that’s not the case at all. For instance “Champion Sound” includes some reggae influence, “Retro” contains some cowbells and some vocal yelps, like a modern-day take on a B-Boy beat, and “Strings” contains a Pinocchio sample chopped up and smacked up against some orchestra strings and horns. “Black Connection 4” sports an island-cum-60s vibe and “Train Hop” is an unmistakeable New York joint with the subway “please watch the closing doors” line during the chorus.
“What They Talkin’ Bout” again mixes up the sound of the LP with an almost angelic vocal juxtaposed against a staccato beat and a nice muted synthesiser noise during the chorus to boot. The topic of people including rappers, politicians, and the public “talking about the same old shit” is so pertinent right now that it becomes one of the most memorable tracks of the album…. “They still chatting ’bout bread?”. This is just as classic song in every way.
Some Camp Lo fans may ask; where’s that 1970s-sh vibe that made the duo famous? Well there’s something here for all of you too, the final track is unmistakably old-school, again with a touch of today. “Lovin’ It” is a brilliant track to end with.
The standout tracks are “Genie Alert”, ” Love Is Love”, “Retro”, and “What They Talkin’ Bout”. But having said that, every single song here makes you move and when the album is finished you instantly want to go back to the beginning. Okay, so the songs are short (most in the 2 to 3 minute range) which makes the album come in at under 30 minutes but like Vince Staples’ Big Fish Theory, with the infectious combination of modern beats and memorable raps, you don’t care about the runtime. “Less is more” is an adage that definitely applies to this release.
The Get Down Brothers for me has a very unique feel to it, I can only describe it as the feeling of a buzzing night-time scene, like an electric neon light from the 80s brought to the present day so that Geechi Suede and Sonny Cheeba can lay their verses under its basking glow. Judging by the length and the overall upbeat soundscape, this release has more in common with Lo’s Short Eyes EP than anything else the duo have released but having said that it’s also highly original and individual (both in terms of the group’s usual sound and contemporary Hip-Hop trends). Yes this album is short but it’s a great listen. Go get it!