Camp Lo are masters of time travel. The Bronx born MCs known as Geechi Suede and Sonny Cheeba made their debut in 1997 with a aural and visual nod to the blaxploitation era Coolie High. They coupled a black velvet painting style with a future-forward rhyme scheme that leaned on heavy alliteration and layered metaphors. Their singles “Coolie High” and “Luchini” still stand as prime examples of ’90s era hip-hop, while remaining timeless in their own right. So much so that Nappy DJ Needlz recently mashed-up their lyrics to “Luchini” with the beat to Bobby Shmurda’s 2014 hit “Hot N*gga” and it’s almost impossible to tell that the verses are nearly two decades old.
During this year’s Dilla Day Weekend festivities the duo took the stage with their mentor and collaborator Ski Beatz to tease their new album, Ragtime Hightimes Playing In A Padded Room With Pink Elephants and Spiked Mushrooms, their first with Ski since their sophomore album Let’s Do It Again. Dipped in pink suits, gator boots and stingy brim hats they are in their element, flaunting an upgraded, more mature version of their well established throwback style.
Fast forward to spring and the duo are in the midst of the full court press for the album and as Karma would have it, one of their greatest influences was going to be in the area on the same day. So with the help of some magic PR elves a surprise meeting was arranged. As they walk in the studio Hollywood legend Antonio Fargas, known by many as “Huggy Bear” from Starsky and Hutch and “Fly Guy” from I’m Gonna Get You Sucka, is holding court.
As Sonny Cheeba offers up his arms for a hug, Suede can’t contain his excitement. “I. Would. Have. Wore. Something. Else!” he says planting his hard bottoms into the floor to punctuate each word.
Later Suede reveals that this was not their first time meeting Mr. Fargas. There was a video shot for a single off of Let’s Do It Again where “Huggy” makes a cameo, but it was never released.
“But to see him again only confirms that we’re headed in the right direction,” he says. “It’s dope to see people you love and been inspired by still doing it. That’s what we bring to the table in a major way, too. It’s like damn, they’ve been out for 20 years and they’re still doing it, have knack for it and love for it. Most importantly we’re still together. It’s a blessing.”
In the next installment of “The Method” Camp Lo break down everything from the origin of their name (the group and individually) and their lyrical influences to actual verses from their new album.
“The gatling gun is a b-boy move. A lot of those words are dance moves morphed into something else…”
The album title and cover art:
“Ragtime Hightimes In a Padded Room of Pink Elephants Playing With Spiked Mushrooms” is the full title…That padded room is like having all that energy in one kite, with all the highs and everything you deal with at one point and you just gotta release that energy.”
Origin of group name and their names:
“We used to roll dice for push-ups, Cee-lo. So whatever the dice landed on, if you lost you had to get it in. We were gonna call ourselves Cee-Lo, but there was a dude in Atlanta named Cee-Lo (from Goodie Mob) so we couldn’t use that.”
On longevity and lyrical influences:
“Some elements of the Willie Lynch is to always have the young ones think they are better than the older ones, that the older ones can’t tell ’em nothing. So they won’t respect ‘em. Right? I look into it deeper as far as science is concerned. But we can put you on, so you don’t make the same mistakes.”