I absolutely and without question consider my 2011 interview with Camp Lo a feather in my cap when it comes to writing about rap music and pushing the culture forward, so I always check for new music from the Bronx duo both on the strength of them being dope and for giving me that opportunity as an up and coming (and still there, honestly) music journalist. On “Piece of the Action”, we get a version of Camp Lo very similar to the Camp Lo we got in 1997 on the critically acclaimed Uptown Saturday Night. Even in 1997, Geechi Suede and Sonny Cheeba had a knack for combining thematic elements from ’70s Blaxploitation culture with a stream-of-consciousness delivery that was way ahead of their time and thus, still sounds great today.
If you’ve never seen the film Coolie High, I highly recommend either checking it out on YouTube (I recall the whole thing being available there) or preferably paying for it in one form or another (brothas gotta eat). Another purchase recommendation is Camp Lo’s classic Uptown Saturday Night. My brothers put their foot in that LP and are still getting busy.
Just got ahold of some new heat from Camp Lo and Ski Beatz, an EP entitled Fort Apache. If it’s anything like their 80 Blocks From Tiffany mixtape with Pete Rock, it should be a solid listen. I’m always checking for Camp Lo’s unique lyrics and flow and coupled with some superior production…nothing but win.
I remember watching CMC (California Music Channel) back home in the Bay Area, CA and seeing the video for “Luchini (This Is It)” for the first time, sandwiched in between the local rap and run-of-the-mill mainstream videos being played at the time. I stopped everything I was doing. All I knew was I liked what I was hearing and that these dudes were bringing something completely unique to the table…and still doing just that in an industry climate where originality isn’t appearing to be highly lucrative or popular. Big shoutout to Camp Lo for taking the time to sit down and speak with Front-Free briefly about their history in the business and the upcoming 80 Blocks From Tiffany’s project.
When Camp Lo hit the scene, it wasn’t like anything else out there at the time. From the stream of consciousness flow you guys were kickin’ to the overall 70s theme used in the concept, clothing and lyrics, Camp Lo was just out there with it. Was this a concept you guys created for hip-hop or was this something Geechie Suede and Sonny Cheeba just came into the game with already intact?
Geechie Suede: Yeah, we pretty much strategically approached it with a cinematic appeal. Twisting it in our own Bronx way to show our originality and ability to captivate a broad audience through doing something different.
Sonny Cheeba: …We went over how we was gonna bring somethin’ new to the people of hip-hop as far as style, delivery, slang, etc. but the slang is forever.
Who would you say were your musical influences, within hip-hop and outside of hip-hop?
Geechie Suede: Slick Rick, Big Daddy Kane, Native Tongues, Digable Planets…we always bumped Meth, Nas and B.I.G.!!! So many more but as for outside of hip-hop, I gotta add Marvin Gaye, Stevie Wonder and Earth Wind and Fire.
“Luchini” was a huge hit. How much pressure was there to come up with another “Luchini” and did you find yourselves wanting to stick to formula or stray completely away from that to give fans something different?
Geechie Suede: Well, we accept things for what they are and just move how we feel most natural. The formula is to just do what you love and we love an array of things, so the end result will always be unpredictable and timeless..
Sonny Cheeba: We do like to try new things with the music ’cause artists grow, but it’s like, at times you dont want your soul food tasting like Denny’s, so as artists we have to know that going in.
So you gave us the 80 Blocks From Tiffany’s joint (what’s the name about?). Tell us about the upcoming project with Pete Rock.
Geechie Suede: Keeping it cinematic as we always will…. 80 Blocks from Tiffany’s is a  documentary about BX gang life and the struggle that was taking place around that time. That would later become the very ingredients for the early stages of hip-hop’s emergence. We chose this because its our honor and job here to tell the story of the Bronx..
Sonny Cheeba: 80 Blocks From Tiffany’s is a BX thang, but really anybody from where we from knows every day can’t be flashy cars and diamond rings. There’s also the others side of that coin. It may not shine the same, but it’s still just as bright.
What’s next for Camp Lo?
Geechie Suede: We have a few things in the making with some real nice surprises stirring but [80 Blocks From Tiffany’s]is definitely the focus right now..Then the flood begins. Lo never ends. We love to keep the shock value high for the people.
Camp Lo’s always been ill with the stream of consciousness flow and painting the hell out of a picture for the people, so the music makes its own case. Get with it. And of course we know what kind of damage the legendary Pete Rock can do, so if you haven’t already, download that 80 Blocks mixtape here as a appetizer before the official Camp Lo/Pete Rock joint drops in the near future.