Artist: Cage & Camu Tao
Label: Eastern Conference Records
Rating: 7 / 10
Reviewer: DJ MF
It’s funny. Don’t release a single album in 6 years since you’ve hit the scene, and then in the course of 6 months, release not one, but two of them. The life of Cage I guess. This time teaming with partner in (c)rhyme Camu Tao from the MHz crew, the duo release their debut LP on EC, “Nighthawks”.
Who are the Nighthawks? Two NYC cops, as portrayed by Cage and Camu. Basically, “Nighthawks” is a concept album – describing the trials and tribulations of Cage and Camu (Deke DaSilva and Matt Foxar) as they battle a terrorist in their line of work. Legal or illegal.
For the most part, the LP works, both as a concept, and as a collection of music. Cage and Camu have a great chemistry on the mic together – something I wouldn’t have thought, since both have jagged flows and higher pitched voices. The beats all have a dark, murky feel to them… sort of a 70’s TV crime drama even.
In particular, tracks like ‘The Traitor’ featuring Tame One, with it’s brilliant piano line, and ‘Count Crackula’, with a dope synth sequence, ‘Cop Hell’ with a chopped up siren sample and older school feel, and ‘Nighthawks’ with its driving bassline, all stand out for the way that they contrast with most of the other production… which while cohesive, tends to sound the same after repeated listenings.
As far as the lyricism goes, it’s exactly what you’d expect from Cage. The usual sickness, with a touch more seriousness and focus that you’d normally hear from him. I was a little disappointed with the performance of Camu Tao on the LP however. After his amazing single earlier this year, ‘Hold The Floor’, I had high expectations for anything coming from him in the future. On the “Nighthawks” LP however, he seems to have changed up his style quite a bit – gone for the most part is the on purpose uneven flow he exhibited on earlier MHz tracks and his aforementioned single. Instead, we get a more ‘thuggish’ Camu, with a more straight-forward approach to his lyrics. It’s not bad… it’s just not as good as what he can do.
Although “Nighthawks” is a solid album, it does have one flaw that keeps it from getting a higher mark – the length. I get the impression that this would have worked perfectly as an EP. At 14 tracks long, including skits, the concept gets a little tiresome after a few listens, both sonically and material-wise.
Otherwise, a very solid release.