There’s no doubt that DJ Cam is an accomplished producer capable of versatility- just check his resume for stellar releases like Mad Blunted Jazz, Soulshine, Loa Project Volume II and others. After 10 years in the business, and much eclecticism later, Liquid Hip Hop is billed as a return to his hip-hop roots, although spiced in his typical style with influences from across the musical spectrum. Liquid Hip Hop turns out to be a mixed bag, stylistically and in terms of quality.
Never one to colour inside the lines, Cam runs up and down the spectrum between electronica and hip-hop with ease, although it’s the elastic hip-hop tracks like “6 Sense” and “The L” that are the best. They feature classic Cam beats – nice and crispy with lots of soul and jazz. “6 Sense” demonstrates Cam’s feel for a bumpin’ beat but also laces it with the extra ear candy that many straight-up hip-hop producers neglect. Cam drops chopped up vocal samples in the mix – both rapped and sung to provide variety, and on the instrumental tip, builds out the track with soaring strings and a prominent bassline. “Love Junkee” feat. Cameo and J Dilla is another high point, subversively seductive with a suggestive bassline and Larry Blackmon’s understated vocals.
The distinctive style of famed producer Premier has definitely left its imprints on Cam, and shows up in the sharp drum programming of the better tracks. However, “Premier”, a tribute to the legend himself, doesn’t stand up so well – it lacks the discerning intricacies, of Cam’s better work, for which the competent scratching cannot fully compensate. Likewise “Ghetto Supastar” is a bit on the dark and plodding side with a hint of an electro influence that further grates (on my ears, at least).
The Gangstarr influence re-emerges on “Espionage” which features Guru and harkens back to the Jazzmatazz days with the prominent piano loops and Guru’s typically laidback flow.
Liquid Hip Hop is worth checking out for its eclecticism and Cam’s all-around competence, but it’s not exactly classic Cam and in that respect might be received with mixed feelings by those familiar with his previous releases.