Cam’ron & Vado – Gunz N Butta

(E1, 2011)

Compared to his less then enthusiastic performance on 2009’s Crime Pays, these days Cam’ron looks to be back in Killa Season form and you’d have to attribute at least some of his new found energy to his latest protege, Vado. The two had been dominating the blog/mixtape scene as The U.N. for the past couple of years and released a “retail mixtape” Hot In Here Vol. 1 (a few new tracks along with a bunch of CDQ versions of their most popular mixtape cuts) in 2010. Curiously the E1 release was to relatively little fan fare, with very little in the way of promotion, viral or otherwise. Still, Cam and Vado have continued to have the streets buzzing in 2011, as they prepare for their first official album, Gunz N Butta.

The chemistry between the two Harlemites is reminiscent of the early music Cam’ron made with The Diplomats. Cam fills his familiar role, the eccentric OG with a sinister wit who’s seen it all, done it all and his laidback confidence is the perfect foil for Vado, who plays the role of the young gunner, brash, cocky and ready to put in work for the “Big Homie” (no RR). On “American Greed”, Vado anchors the track with a hook that frames the song with a thin concept: “American greed, shit’ll turn you into the worst type/Locked like Madoff, die like Kirk Wright/You get more dirty when your collar and shirt white/Caviar dreams Rose’ wishes, the thirst life…”  which allows both MC’s to do what they do best. Pop shit. Cam scores with lines like: “And if you see me in the Louie in the coupe blowin’ Ooh Wee, right hand should salute me/Look here, you Sam Bowie, scram Scooby, tan Gucci, play your part, this Cam movie”‘. Being the cynic l am, I’d say one could view this song as a shot at Jim Jones and Juelz Santana (who still weren’t on good terms with Cam when the bulk of these tracks were recorded), but in light of their recent reconciliation,  it’s mostly irrelevant at this point, even if I was right. Songs with harder edges like the solemn street screed “Breathe” and the ode to the frontin’ ass cat, “Stop It 5” are balanced by a trio of club songs toward the end of the album. While it’s easy to dismiss joints like “Hey Muma” and “Speakin’ In Tungs” what makes them noteworthy is that while they will work in a club, they don’t pander to gender and the content is very far from what passes for “club friendly” by today’s standards. Cam and Vado never dumb it down and I think Vado’s reverence for 90’s Hip-Hop together with Cam’s veteran experience (having actually been there in the 90’s) make for an album that recalls an era when New York had an identity of it’s own and rarely looked outside of the 5 boroughs for inspiration.

There’s a relentlessness in Cam and Vado’s approach from the very first track but the third ingredient that makes tandem work is 21 year old prodigy, araabMUZIK, who produces a bulk of the albums tracks. The Providence R.I. beat maker is largely known for blacking out on the MPC  but he’s been lacing Cam with his hyperactive production since Crime Pays and has basically laid the sonic foundation Cam’s recent resurgence is built on. The instrumentals behind dark songs like “Killa” (which could easily pass for the theme to the next Friday The 13th installment) and the Disco inspired “Lights, Cameras, Action” show Araab’s increasing range but it’s his ability to channel Swizz Beatz circa 1998 that drives some of the albums best moments. Seriously,  joints like the frenetic club banger “We All Up In Here” and the hypnotic head nodder, “I Luv U” sound like they were found on an old DAT of lost We Are The Streets instrumentals.

“Speakin’ In Tungs” has appeared on mixtapes, the aforementioned Hot In Here Vol. 1 and Vado’s Slime Flu album, so although it’s a certified club banger,  it’s inclusion here just seems lazy. Similarly, “Stop It 5”. “Monster Muzik” and “Fuck-A-Freestyle” have all shown up other places and while all of these songs fit into the album thematically, they still comes off as filler. The whole vibe of the “album”, from the low budget production values to the redundant bars, feels more like a mixtape then retail release. This could have easily been the 3rd installment of Cam’s Best Of All Bosses series wit DJ Drama or Hot In Here Vol. 2 (Which is probably a more honest title for the project as it seems most of the material here was recorded during the same timeframe). This isn’t to say that mixtape aesthetic doesn’t have it’s own unique appeal and there are a bunch of songs here that are strong enough to be on an actual album instead of existing in a zipfile floating out in the endless ether that is the internet, but as a whole, this isn’t the project that’s gonna put Cam back in the spotlight or launch Vado to Hip-Hop stardom. DipSet enthusiasts should look at Gunz N Butta  as a showcase for the duo’s chemistry and a preview of what they will be bringing on their upcoming solo projects (I have hope for Vado. Cam’ron seems content to pocket his album budget and cop tracks from araabMUZIK and Skitzo for the low). What the duo have done is something that’s rare from New York artists. Like Lloyd Bank’s HFM2 and Raekwon’s OB4CLII, Cam and Vado have delivered a project that strictly caters to fans of New York Hip-Hop. No Rick Ross or Waka Flocka features, no Lex Luget beat, no auto-tuned hooks, no concessions to radio or MTV, Gunz N Butta is uncompromisingly New York. This is project elevator smellin’ like a urinal cake, hustlin’ 5 blocks away from the precinct music. This is that posted in front of the Apollo with your homies tryin’ to bag every fat ass that walks by music. That Club Speed, first floor, in the crowd wildin’ off Coco Loso, fuckin up your new kicks music.  So in that respect, they’ve succeeded. Gunz N Butta isn’t the album that’ll turn Hip-Hop’s eyes back to the East Coast, but it’s a strong, albeit small step in the right direction.

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Comments on: "Review: “Gunz N Butta”" (25)

  1. LOL you right, but who am I kidding? Niggaz like Spitta gonna sell 14K still, unfortunately.
    ^
    it’s all good. the music industry is completely losing its definition, so utilizing record sales is quickly becoming an outdated measuring stick for a musician’s success. live shows is and always will be the true measure of a musician’s success.

  2. Dope review Amp. I wasn’t really interested in the GnB album as it seemed random as hell, but fuck it, lemme scoop a mediafire DL and get it cracking.

    JihaD

  3. True say, I guess 725k a year off touring ain’t bad at all for Spitta..

    On a different note, I’m thinking of hitting up Thailand for the summer, is it really true there are plenty ladyboys or just a rumour gone out of hand?

  4. Yeah good review Amp, been waiting on somebody to truly capture what an album/mixtape by UN is about.

  5. Bricktop said: April 18, 2011 at 9:07 pm
    LOL you right, but who am I kidding? Niggaz like Spitta gonna sell 14K still, unfortunately.
    ^
    it’s all good. the music industry is completely losing its definition, so utilizing record sales is quickly becoming an outdated measuring stick for a musician’s success. live shows is and always will be the true measure of a musician’s success.

    ^

    This is true. The album was NEVER where the money was– it is in the touring and the merchandising. Albums make money for LABELS– its why they want to control the masters and buy your publishing rights.

    Independent artists make their money by selling their albums, building fanbases, and touring in areas they could control.

    Labels are only neccessary if your looking to sell out. FACT.

    JihaD

  6. So jihad you think krit will sell out after signing with Def Jam?

  7. AmpGeez a.k.a. Chief Heavy said:

    Labels are only neccessary if your looking to sell out. FACT.
    ===========================
    Nah, labels hepl get your music out to as many people as possible & that includes overseas. They help develop an artist to their full potential & then promote & market their project so it has the best chance of reaching people who might be interested in buying it.

    At least that’s what they are supposed to do.

  8. Heroine Headliner said:

    Dressed like I’m 22…..

    Look like I’m 52…..

    Flow like I’m 18…..

    Do what I wanna do…..

    #RAWSEgems

  9. XLNC said: April 18, 2011 at 9:25 pm
    So jihad you think krit will sell out after signing with Def Jam?

    ^

    What is Krit doing that he wasn’t doing before?

    I will say that Def Jam culture is changing some with Sha Money, so I dunno, but do you really see a Krit album dropping? or a J. Cole?

    These niggas should learned what Yayo Said years ago-

    “Tax Write Off”

    JihaD

  10. gramMasta said:

    since vinyl, cassettes, cds and the actual record store are outdated the labels are tapping into the touring & merch to get their scrilla back

    and also imo alotta niggas’ publishing aint worth splitting percentages these days anyway

  11. mobbdeen said:

    Co-sign AMP.

    Distribution and publicity are very important. The problem is when you let a label take control over your image and even worse, the music. That’s where the selling out shit comes in.

    Currensy used the machine as a means of increasing awareness about himself and now he’s pocketing all the change from the shows and cross promotional opportunities he’s created for himself.

    He ain’t even gon be superstar rich, but I’d trade places with him…

  12. Heroine Headliner said:

    I call my brotha Gun…..

    Cuz he shine like one…..

  13. The Ellesworth Bumpy Johnson EP

    P’s EP drops tomorrow @ Complex.

    1. The One & Only (Produced By Sid Roams)
    2. Go Off (Produced By Sid Roams)
    3. Black Devil (Produced By Sid Roams)
    4. Twilight (Feat. Havoc) (Produced By Sid Roams)
    5. For One Night Only (Produced By Alchemist)
    6. Strong (Produced By King Benny)
    7. Told Ya’ll (Produced By Sid Roams) (Bonus)

    ^

    Yea, we gonna need to check that out.

    JihaD

  14. Yea, we gonna need to check that out.

    ^ Fuck Complex.

  15. EnglandRepresent said:

    I’m thinking of hitting up Thailand for the summer, is it really true there are plenty ladyboys or just a rumour gone out of hand?

    ^^It’s true. My step-bro got into some shit with some ladyboys.

  16. ^^It’s true. My step-bro got into some shit with some ladyboys.
    ^
    translation -eng rep is a tranny chaser ever since that summer spent in Thailand.

  17. Heroine Headliner said:

    a mouth is a mouth…..

  18. troubleshooter1900 said:

    GuttaboyJihaD said:
    April 18, 2011 at 7:11 pm

    King Speez said:

    ^

    Say no more, fam. And remember, you ain’t gotta get your shit mixed. Just hit me with the vocals and I’ll get everything mixed and mastered.

    JihaD

    ^And you KNOW I’mma handle that Speez. Lock the coords for a studio, send me the invoice.

    Everything else will be handled.

  19. troubleshooter1900 said:

    a mouth is a mouth…..

    ^
    *fist fights with a lion and his pride*

  20. Heroine Headliner says:

    a mouth is a mouth…..
    ^
    Eng specifically said got into some shit

    He wasn’t talking bout mouths. Nasty fuck.

  21. EnglandRepresent said:

    The story is long Tron Tron and I can’t be fucked to go into it, funny shit though but needless to say it ain’t no different to what goes on between you and Mummy Tron Tron every night except there wasn’t no ‘penetration that smells like sanitation’ (c) the GOAT

  22. ^^It’s true. My step-bro got into some shit with some ladyboys.

    ^^
    Oh for real? Cause my boy went out to Pattaya (I think it’s their red light district) and said the ladyboys roam the main strip but in the bars and clubs, only genuine girls allowed to go and work there..

    What do you think?

  23. *yawns*

    *hocks a loog in the toilet*

    Morning germs

  24. AmpGeez a.k.a. Chief Heavy said:

    Lack of focus.

    That’s what I left out of the review and is the main thing that holds Gunz N Butta back from shining along with Cam’s best works.

    Too much styling, not enough firm concepts.

  25. real nigga shit said:

    Go Filippines and Thailand, Malaysia and Idonesia…if you want the LadyBoys and thats your thing…

    Fuck niggas

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