Review: Camu Tao | King of Hearts

Fat Possum (2010)
By ANDREW GRAHAM  |  September 7, 2010
3.0 3.0 Stars


Using hip-hop tools to create pop isn't a new tactic, but it's not often done well, or even notably. Rap music, after all, is more than just a compressed snare sample and an Auto-tuned chorus — N*E*R*D's first album and D'Angelo's Voodoo prove how potent the combination can be.

On his posthumously released debut, Camu Tao's well-honed rap skills (as both an MC and a beat-crafting producer) are applied outside the hip-hop box, to intriguing and sometimes thrilling effect. Completed by long-time friend and frequent collaborator El-P following the artist's 2008 death from lung cancer, King of Hearts showcases a daring, playful, experimental artistic voice.

True, Camu Tao hadn't mastered the art of songwriting: verses and choruses abound, whereas bridges are conspicuously absent. But even half-built tracks like "Bird Flu" and "Intervention" are proof that he could create engaging and catchy hooks alongside vocals that matched his new palette without diluting the hip-hop æsthetic. Such songs are tantalizing examples of unrealized potential — a sad indication of what could have been.

Related: Wavves | King of the Beach, Lissie | Catching a Tiger, Ill Vibe and Ordeal | Michael Jackson's Milk, More more >
  Topics: CD Reviews , Entertainment, Music, EL-P,  More more >
| More

Most Popular
Share this entry with Delicious
  •   NEIL YOUNG INSPIRES A CHILL NEW WAVE  |  November 08, 2012
    Over six decades, Neil Young's musical expression has expanded beyond the rock and roll of his nascent years and the folk-rock that brought him his initial burst of renown.
  •   HOW TO DRESS WELL | TOTAL LOSS  |  September 12, 2012
    To the casual ear, there might not be a dramatic difference between Tom Krell's debut album (2010's Love Remains) and Total Loss, his potent new collection of ethereal hymns.
  •   FRANK OCEAN | CHANNEL ORANGE  |  July 24, 2012
    Since the ’80s, when R&B began to lean more heavily on the candid bling-and-booty-centric tropes championed by its plain-speaking hip-hop cousins, the music’s subtlety, nuance, and imagination have faded.
  •   CHROMATICS | KILL FOR LOVE  |  April 24, 2012
    Chromatics fans have become very familiar with the sensation of anticipation, almost to the point of numbness.
  •   CUBIC ZIRCONIA | FOLLOW YOUR HEART  |  October 25, 2011
    Tiombe Lockhart has been hustling her hot vocal talents for an indie-neo-soul minute now, dropping arresting guest spots with PPP, Waajeed, and Kingdom.

 See all articles by: ANDREW GRAHAM