So. Camp Lo. Uptown Saturday Night (1997). This is another one that I see all the time when looking around on record store websites. There has always been a little bit of intrigue there, for me, because the cover is *chef’s kiss*, but as always, my ability to act on that intrigue has been at zero. I just don’t like the possibility of being disappointed, y’all lol. I’ve been disappointed so many times. BUT like Yasiin’s Black on Both Sides (1999), Uptown Saturday Night is a project that shows up on many 90s hip hop “top” lists. So I had to give it a go and see if all that intrigue was worth it.
1997: Uptown Saturday Night
It was lol. All in all, Uptown Saturday Night is a fantastic project. First off, let me just say that it’s kind of WILD that this is their debut project. I don’t necessarily think it’s a guarantee that someone’s debut project isn’t gonna be good – there are MANY examples of that not being the case for a lot of people – but it always amazes me when a project sounds this good (edit: Black on Both Sides was also Yasiin’s debut project which is just as WILD to me. WHAT kind of magic was being conjured for these folks to make such amazing debuts like this in the late 90s???). Uptown Saturday Night feels like a project made a few years into a group’s career, rather than the energy that they’re bringing from jump. It’s a very impressive step into the spotlight.
While I was listening to it, I was trying to figure out the best way to explain how I was feeling, while not undervaluing or downplaying how much I liked it, though. Compared to Black on Both Sides from yesterday, I didn’t get the same immediate sense of “oh my goodness, this is the best thing I’ve ever heard.” It was more like a “oh ok, I like this!” Which is still a good thing in my book; like I said, the project is great. There are some elements that are similar between the two projects, though. The jazzy undertones are there on both; the moments of playfulness, the New Yorkness. There on both. So it was actually kind of nice listening to these projects around the same time because of the things that they share.
Something that I did really really love about Uptown Saturday Night were the moments where Geechi and Sonny would go verse for verse for the entire song, with only a short hook or chorus in between. I was looking at the lyrics for the first couple of songs, while they were playing (but then I started scrolling through Tumblr through the rest, so idk how many songs past “B-Side to Hollywood” this applies to lol) and they have at least 3 songs on the project that are made up of Geechi doing 4 bars, Sonny doing 4 bars, and the pattern repeating. Which is such a simple idea, but it can lean towards corny, if it’s not done right. And those moments on this project are very far from corniness. There were a couple of moments, though, where I had absolutely NO clue what they were talking about, but my shoulders were moving anyway lol.
And y’all know I love some solid production, too. So I was g r o o v i n g throughout the entire project. “Rockin’ It AKA Spanish Harlem,” “Killin’ ‘Em Softly,” and “Sparkle” had some of my favorite production moments on the project. And that Dynasty sample on “Luchini AKA This is It” is SOOOOOOOO GOOD. And the fact that they put that song together at (basically) the last minute (essentially just to have another single from the project) is a true testament to how talented Camp Lo is as a duo.
This is definitely going to be one of those projects that I listen to when I just need something to vibe to in the background. I don’t have a lot of those – because most of the time, when I tell myself “oh, I’ll just put this on in the background while I do x or z,” I end up singing/rapping along to the music, and I don’t get done what I was hoping to get done. But Uptown Saturday Night is for sure one of the projects that I’ll keep around to vibe to.
Featured Image Credit: https://www.xxlmag.com/camp-lo-aim-create-music-without-time/
(listen to Uptown Saturday Night on spotify by clicking the image below)
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Welp. Here we are! Welcome to a Week Fulla 90s Hip Hop! I have decided to finally begin my mission to become a hip hop head in real life, by listening to some 90s hip hop projects that I’ve never heard before. The thing is that I feel like I’ve been exposed to 90s hip … Continue reading Week Fulla 90s Hip Hop – First Listen #28: Yasiin Bey’s ‘Black on Both Sides’