THE CAMP-“The Campaign”

There’s a new camp in town. The Camp (Dese, Grime Tha MC, Excetera and DJ Hevan), hail from Massachusetts of all places, and their skills and style are similar to one of the greatest underground camps of all–Boot Camp Clik. Grimey, dirty loops and beats; catchy hooks; hard and boastful rhymes; tales of streets and sex; and mics that pass with so much speed and flow that it’s hard to tell when one member is done and the next begins. The band just got signed to Commonwealth Records, and will be distributed worldwide by Amalgam Entertainment (the latest label to sign Joe Budden — perhaps the greatest slept-on rapper in existence). The great Apathy took over executive production chores on this first label release, and he’s also behind the mic. Others at the boards or on the mic include Slaine (of La Coka Nostra and Special Teamz), Sha Stimuli, Jaguar Skillz, Teddy Roxpin, and Confidence.

As for the individual cuts, Little Story uses samples from The Beastie Boys, Slick Rick, and what sounds like Bill Cosby to introduce a street story by Slaine about a ho at school, but it isn’t your typical sex rhyme. Like Ice Cube’s Look Who’s Burning, it’s about the dangers of unsafe sex, but it uses humorous spoken interludes (something I usually hate, but it works here) between verses with hilarious rhymes like (“I shoulda kicked her out my crib with no clothes and shoes!”) and a bizarre Indian drum chant. It truly has to be heard to be believed. Grime (pronounced Gee-Rhyme) is featured on “Return Of The Boom Bap,” with in-your-face production by Teddy Roxpin, and tough and tight verses. Walk On By (you can guess the hook) is another standout track. As is Cruise Control, where the group brags about having “more game than the superbowl/we got stupid flow.” Christ, this is hot shit.

Perhaps the best praise that I can heap on this album is that it is not remotely infected by crunk/deep south/drawl. It’s pure East Coast flow, somewhat laid back but definitely not slow. These are guys with great vocab, who aren’t afraid to sound smart—even when rapping about doing dumb shit. Not every track is a winner, but even the not-so-hots are better than most underground rappers entire catalogs. And there’s only two or three of these, anyway. Like “Forgot What It Was,” which is the obligatory back-in-the-day track, complete with nostalgic beats and chants of “Mic one mic two!” Still, as far as these kinds of tunes go, this one isn’t too bad.

As a bonus, on their myspace page, they’re offering not one but two mixtapes (although they seem to be using mostly original beats, so these are more like street albums than mixtapes). Here, you’ll hear a rawer The Camp, and find production by Huck B, Eye, and others. Take this rhyme from Dese’s Dirty Rap off the Make Room mixtape, a string of bars that begins: “If I was you, no chick would bang me/But I’m me, I been in tons of threeways/And broke more records than a clumsy DJ/Yeah, I spit with extra clarity/I know your bitch, and I know she’ll marry me/But I’ll leave if the sex is average B/‘Cause getting head now is a regularity/In fact, I know my ex is mad at me/’Cause in a Lex getting neck from Valerie.” He keeps going, too fast to take it all in on one listen, and ends: “Shit, that sound like the best of Cassidy.”

The free albums are great introduction to the group that should get you hyped to buy the indie label release. And you should buy it. We need to support artists like this.

Walk On By (From The Campaign)

Dirty Rap (Dese solo) (From Make Room: The Camp Mixtape)

Not Waiting (From Bottoms Up mixtape)

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