“Bottoms up sunshine, Love Potion No. 9.”–Geechi Suede (Camp-Lo)
Well, the 28th of January marks The twentieth anniversary of one of my favorite albums ever, Camp Lo’s Uptown Saturday Night. I remember copping it with my homeboy back in the ninth grade and being hooked on it immediately. Led by the infectious horn-heavy single “Luchini,” the album did something lots of records are unable to do: infuse jazz and hip-hop in an accessible way.
Let’s explore that for a second, what does that mean, exactly. Well, Camp Lo is an interesting mixture of elements. They have a soulful—dare I say blaxploitation—sound to them, without being overbearing or polarizing. They were jazzy, but not as jazzy as Tribe Called Quest, and (for those that checked the bars) subtly street, without being visibly rough. This allowed them to remain a hip-hop group, without being labeled as ‘alternative,” while standing out from the pack. This album was adored by those who took the time to dig deeper than “Luchini” and “Coolie High,” and is not only a super-lyrical piece of 90s hip-hop history but a gem production-wise. This was the album that Ski Beatz was working on when he was tapped by Dame Dash to work on Reasonable Doubt, where he placed “Dead Presidents,” “Feelin’ It,” and “22 Twos” amongst other things. Ski went on to produced a lot of records for Camp-Lo—their next two albums in fact.
The duo quietly released On The Way Uptown this past weekend as a nod to the milestone. Those who loved the (original) album will love it; it’s chock full of unreleased demo’s and more. It’s available now on every streaming service, so give it a spin.
Many anniversaries made me feel old last year, but this one hits closer to home; it holds up so well, and it’s ironically timeless blend of jazz/funk and 70s soul-aesthetic has allowed it to age [very] well. The often thrown around term classic has to be earned—Uptown Saturday Night has done just that, in my humble opinion. “This is it—what!”