Alright, we’re in the final stretch of 2017. We can all agree that it’s been an incredible year for all spectrums of hip-hop. Let’s skip all of the filler sentences and jump straight to it – Griselda Records (WESTSIDEGUNN, Conway and Benny) & company body slammed this year. Of course that’s subjective, but we stand firm behind that. If you’re just getting familiar with them you may have bypassed the underdog Camino, understandably. Outside of spitting a few bars on Shade45 alongside the late Prodigy and GxFR squadron, and a short amount of available records/features, it’s easy to bypass his abilities. But the hyper Griselda Records fans most likely know what’s up, and have certainly been waiting for this release since the original announced release date in late September. I’ve had the pleasure of following both of their recent tours on a few stops and had to give you, the reader, a verbal recap (or flashback) to one of the most special shows I’ve ever attended.
I’m constantly flashing back to June 8th 2017 at the Studio Webster Hall. On that night, if you were not headed to the kick-off of Griselda On Steriods tour, you may have been strolling 3rd ave and on a double take in your head thought…”Did I just see Hitler’s face painted on a shirt?” But if on that night you were seeking out the basement of a late 1800’s tried and true music venue you may have seen that shirt and it would have only heightened your excitement for what would turn out to be a blood-sweat-tears all out passionate night for music. A night that put music back in its’ place.
The stage was manned by many – the list looks like a dream on paper (Raekwon, L.O.X., Prodigy, Roc Marciano, Statik Selektah, Mayhem Lauren, Smoke DZA etc.) but the theme on stage was singular the whole night. RESPECT. Artists that did not have any other reason to be there, were there- solely out of respect. And that feeling on stage spread throughout the venue immediately. The first artist responsible for making this element felt throughout the venue, was Camino. And he embraced that responsibility with a clear and profound stage presence. It’s easy to sum up performances in catch-phrases and physical reactions. But when an artist on the cusp of breaking through into full stride gets on stage – you have to go deeper than dope. Camino took the stage that night like it was grounds for proving himself – and it was. With only a handful of recorded solo tracks he would find himself alongside legends of hip-hop, so… Where did he come from? He answered that question loud and clear with a display of lyricism, and backed it up firmly with a physical gusto in his stage presence making his performance look natural. On topic, he’s one hell of a hype man while the GxFR squad performs.
Truthfully every artist that night had a goal to accomplish on stage, Camino included. The goal was to rep New York music as a collective beyond just the city – to come together as a state. Most of the artists filing out on stage dealt with that goal in a simple manner – basically by showing face and bars. All love. But Camino was one of the newest faces to show, and his bars were not synonomous with the likes of Styles P. But Camino still managed to set the tone with a respectable amount of his bars in the mouths of the audience. That is the work of an artist who can rise to the occasion, and when it comes to artistry in rap this is what we look for. Someone who has the vision to see what obstacles lie ahead on stage, and deliver under circumstances that demand the skills, knowledge, and abilities of an MC.
We could go on for hours about how incredible the debut show of that tour was in the summer. If you were there you know how legendary it was – if not luckily the entire show is available on YouTube. Point being, Camino played a big part that night. Rest in peace Prodigy.
Anyhow, back to the premiere. You can stream it below now and tell your friends and cousins and shit. This is only the start of a long, healthy career in hip-hop for young Camino – mark our word. We had a sturdy conversation with him that you can read below as well. Learn something. As always, peace and love.
The first thing I want to get into is the last two tours you’ve rocked with the team. How important is the art of the live performance to you? And talk to us about the first touring experience as well.
I be all over the place during show time but man, live performance is a huge part of being an entertainer. You gotta think – I’m only 23 so when I’m out there on the stage I’m really competing with your Travis Scott’s your Lil Uzi’s. My music is just different. It’s a whole different vibe, you know? The vibe you’re supposed to get from Buffalo, NY niggas. But yeah I admire them niggas performance wise . They know how to capture the crowd. I think I do a good job too. Once I loose this quick 20 pounds I’ll be able to crowd surf (laughs).
Lets talk about your history with WESTSIDEGUNN, Conway and Benny. You’re a bit younger than them. How did you guys all meet initially?
Well shit, I met WSG through my sister. He ain’t really know me all like that. Bro just a down to earth ass nigga. I wouldn’t have fucked wit me lol, but long story short them niggas found me in the bushes (laughs). I met Conway through WSG naturally. Ever since then them niggas been my brothers. They taught me a lot about life and helped me mature over the years and grow. They kept me out the streets and basically just gave me a platform. Conway and WAG them niggas – my big brothers and mentors. Same wit Benny. I always knew of Benny because, shit, if you’re from Buffalo you know Benny (laughs). I used to always see the nigga at the barber shop and would never speak to him. That’s that Buffalo shit – no matter how many times you see a nigga, if you don’t really know him you ain’t gon speak. But come to find out he was cool as hell too. That’s my big brother. That nigga nasty.
It’s no secret that Griselda gives a lot of praise to the ART. When I say art I’m speaking on everything – lyricism, sound, fashion, painting, drawing, poetry and so on. Why is art important to Camino?
All art plays a huge part in the culture. It all brings us together in a way like say, for instance, fashion. I rap nothing like Lil Uzi, Young Dolph (laughs) but we all rock Gucci! I fuck with Goyard. I fuck with Balenciaga. We all go to the Blue Flame and throw money at the club – they just throw more for personal reasons (laughs). I live in Atlanta too and I don’t rap like 21 Savage but I fuck with 21 Savage’s music. And I was raised in Baton Rouge but I don’t sound like Lil Boosie. I’m all about the art of it if it makes every thing make sense. Art gives the music meaning. The poetry, the drawings, the paintings -it’s all very necessary. I feel like people don’t value art as much as they should! Not just our music but art in general. It’s just like music – another way of expressing yourself.
What are your personal thoughts on all of the new grimey/stripped down hip-hop music that is surfacing since Griselda? I know Wes addressed this recently on his latest record. In a way it’s beautiful, and a homage to you guys and your authenticity.
(laughs) I love it. I hear it. It’s out there, but it ain’t it. Only because they are not us. Nah, I respect it I just need niggas to pay homage because there are bums out there that niggas like WSG fathered but don’t give him credit. Even the fashion influence. I feel like alot of designers bit his styles. For instance the half and half REJECT and FLYGOD hoodies (laughs) – nobody was even thinking bout half and half and then next thing you know Bape is dropping half and half hoodies. And Fabolous was wearing half and half afterwards. I don’t know, mabye I’m just tripping but I see it alot (laughs).
Lets talk about the new record. It’s safe to call this your official debut release. Tell us about the choice of production, the writing process, and why you chose this cover art, etc.
Well my man Boodeini made all the beats. He produces most of my music. He is like my Daringer – my in-house and go to producer of choice. He got some shit with him too! He produced majority of the project. My writing process is pretty simple – I just look for beats that fit the vibe that I want the project to give and I write them all in the studio. I only write at the studio right before I record. Also the cover art is a picture of my house that grew up in. I took that picture a while ago on my phone. This house is in the middle of my blocks – D Block and C Block.
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