Apr 6, 2012

[REVIEW] @Camiliano: Thoughts Become Words, Words Become Music


Listening to Camiliano's newest EP "Thoughts Become Words, Words Become Music", it caused me to flash back to what brought me to hip hop music from the beginning.  Growing up in Virginia I didn't really start listening to hip hop music  regularly until 1995 around my twentieth birthday.  I hadn't been raised around it, and in my parent's house I was sort of exposed to just about every type of music except hip hop. So I grew up on mostly classic rock, jazz, classical and stuff like that.

Ironically it was one of those vinyl albums that my Dad had that eventually led me to hip hop albeit a bit oddly.   I first heard the album "Graceland" by Paul Simon which featured numerous musicians from South Africa, such as Ladysmith Black Mambazo.  The album unknown to me at the time was facing large criticism due to the view that Paul Simon had violated the cultural boycott instituted by much of the world due to the Apartheid regime in South Africa which was on it's last legs.

And it was this album that sort of changed my outlook on music.  It got me looking into more music than what I had grown up with.  It got me wanting to know more about these fantastic World artists that I had never heard of before but was fascinated by.   And from there I moved to other artists such as Youssou N'Dour, which led me to Neneh Cherry and rapper Canibus who both did separate songs with the singer from Africa.


At that point I was in love with this musical art form that I had suddenly been exposed to.  It was around this time that I discovered hip hop mixtapes in DC and found the world of New York Hip Hop, the stories of these NY emcees told through their mixtapes.   I was fortunate as well to come to Hip Hop during what is widely regarded as the "Golden Age" of hip hop, the mid 1990's.

It was that era of hip hop that just sucked me in and I just allowed it to envelope me.  I devoured everything I could get my hands on through the local merchant in my town of Charlottesville Virginia who would sell bootleg movies and mixtapes on the downtown mall.

For more on that aspect, you can read my piece on why I love 90's Mixtapes.

The thing I liked the most about that era was the content.  It wasn't like it is today.  While there are definitely some serious and intelligent rappers out today who are speaking on real issues of a real world, there's way too much bullshit.   And the stuff on the radio?  99% bullshit.

I miss that era of "Grown Man Music" so to speak.  That era had some ignorant shit too, but there seemed to be more of the hip hop that wasn't embarrassing to listen to.  You had emcees and groups that were really saying something and could make you think.   Could let you relate to them even if your life didn't resemble theirs.  Or at least make you feel that you could relate, even if you couldn't.

I don't get that feeling that much anymore, which is why for the most part I've drifted away from the more current hip hop.  I tend to gravitate towards the older stuff.  Does that make me a bitter "old head"?  Sure, I guess.  If that's my scarlet letter, I'll wear it.

Listening to Camiliano's newest release, brought me back to that old time.  Made this "old head" sit up and listen.  Made me think.  I've known Camiliano for awhile now and I've always respected him beyond his music.  Because I know that rapping is not the end all be all of what he is or what he represents.

For one he's a reader.  He's interested in expanding his knowledge.  He's not one of these ignorant people who think they already know everything.  He is intelligent enough to know that he doesn't know it all.  And so he reads.  He learns.  He expands his knowledge and it comes through in his rhymes.


Contrast that with rappers like Kanye West who proudly boasted that he doesn't read and is not a fan of books, saying "I would never want a book's autograph, I am a proud non-reader of books."  He went on to make the point that he would rather actually go out and meet people and experience things, but we actually have someone bragging that they don't read and don't see the value in it.   It reminds me of a person I knew once that said that he doesn't read because he "read too much as a child."

You can tell the drastic difference in outlooks first off by the very title of Camiliano's EP.  "Thoughts Become Words, Words Become Music" is a takeoff of a quote of unknown origin which reads as follows:

Watch your thoughts, for they become words. 
Watch your words, for they become actions. 
Watch your actions, for they become habits. 
Watch your habits, for they become character. 
Watch your character, for it becomes your destiny.

And that's a perfectly apt source for titling this release, as Camiliano's music born out of his thoughts are perfectly emblematic  of his character and by extension what his destiny shall be.  More on that last part in a bit.

I love that he has found a way to balance his gritty lyricism along with the often soulful backdrops on track such as "I'm for Real", "Self Doubt" and the title track.   I've long been especially a fan of the more soulful conscious type work by artists like Slum Village, Digable Planets, Tribe, etc and I think that Camiliano is a part of a newer breed of MC that is able to keep that soulful vibe to it, but still come correct with the more gritty lyricism and content.

Not everyone can do that without it coming off odd, but we've seen him be able to do something like "Thoughts Become Words",  as well as the straight raw and rugged "Fuck Outta Here" with his Dues Been Paid cohorts.  It's the mark of an artist that is able to expand and move beyond a set notion of what he or she is supposed to do.  Too many artists come into the game and think "okay, this is what's on the radio, this is what's hot right now, I'm gonna do THAT!" and just expect success to come.

And sometimes that does happen.  Sometimes an artist can come out of left field and defy all odds or common sense and be an overnight success while making shit music such as Kreayshawn.  But that doesn't happen often.  It's the exception not the rule.

More times than not the artists that are here to stay, who have something to contribute to the game and is not there just to piggyback their way to fame, they are the ones who succeed.  They are the ones who twenty years from now you'll know their name.  Twenty years from now will anyone know who Kreayshawn or Soulja Boy is, beyond a footnote of "oh yeah remember back when that dumb shit came out?  Who were they again?"   Doubtful.

Twenty years from now looking back on New York hip hop specifically and hip hop in general, we'll know the name Camiliano.   You can tell that his destiny is going to entail making his mark on the hip hop world in one form or another.  One needs only to look at the body of work he is building up to realize that much.



PERSONAL HIGHLIGHTS:  Farewell, Goodnight, Ready feat. Tenille, I'm For Real




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