DJ CAM: Soulshine

Emmett G. Price III By

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Taking a slightly different turn than past releases, former Parisian graffiti artist and current DJ/ producer Cam presents Soulshine, a work of ambient energy, soulful seduction—and in the truest sense, a work of fusion.

As a tribute to numerous forms and styles of African American music, DJ Cam teases the line between the various forms and styles of this music, revealing that line to be extremely thin and gray. His exploration of these thin, gray boundaries is not only insightful but also artistically captivating. Similar to notable artists such as the Roots, Guru's Jazzmatazz and Branford Marsalis' Buckshot LeFonque, DJ Cam is able to make hip hop sound like jazz, jazz sound like R&B, and R&B sound like hip hop.

Finding his muse in the ageless work of "Q" (Quincy Jones) and further inspired by his admiration for the work of D'Angelo, Erykah Badu and Rakim, the "Best European Hip Hop Act" of the U.K.'s 2002 Hip Hop Awards presents his greatest release yet in Soulshine.

The strength of this compilation of fifteen explorations in the land of groove may best lie in its production. Although the "live" music, turntablism, rapping, singing and other creative work is presented in good fashion, the level of production on this release is a reflection of current developments of hip hop in the United States. As the art form progresses into its next stage propelled by the creative talent of the artists, the level of production is what differentiates 21st century hip hop from that of the near past. DJ Cam has created a very clean sounding, multi-layered and multi-leveled controlled impingement of sound.

With Soulshine, DJ Cam presents fifteen selections of varied length that, besides serving as a freestyler's paradise, showcases the broad diversity of his influences and articulation of music. Always full of energy and lasting anywhere from fifty seconds to almost nine minutes, each selection takes on a different character, sets a different tone, and explores a different ambience. Three tracks are particularly worthy of note. On track three, "Love Junkee," DJ Cam serves as the master arranger and conductor as he integrates with precision numerous different sounds to create a masterpiece. The "live" band establishes a soft sultry groove, setting the perfect backdrop for the unique and now legendary vocals of Larry Blackmon (Cameo). With a little touch of neo-soul, a taste of R&B, and a spoon-full of jazz, "Love Junkee" is a hard-hitting exploration into the land where not only the sun but the "Soulshine."

Track five, "Condor (Espionage)," merges the muted trumpet (think Miles), 1960s Herbie Hancock, and DJ Cam's turntablism all behind the fluid storytelling flow of Baldhead Slick. The selection is constructed with the precision of an Ellington arrangement yet feels as free as a Bird solo. "Condor" is the strongest track on the collection.

With track fourteen, "Voodoo Child," DJ Cam shows he is just as comfortable in hip hop as in the other represented—and often integrated—genres. His display of turntablism both in execution and in content of samples show not only his confidence in the hip hop genre and culture, but also his command of the "wheels of steel." Featuring the strong delivery of Afu Ra, DJ Cam once again establishes himself on the international scene as one of a growing host of DJs rising to international fame.

Critics continue to deal with the questions of how to label Cam's unique and perhaps now signature styling. What to call him - DJ Cam or simply Cam? How to deal with the fact that he is not black? Regardless, Soulshine is a keeper. Whether the best term to caption the work of DJ Cam may be "abstract hip hop," or a combination of electronica, trip hop, neo-soul or any of the other hundreds of terms used to describe past and present trends in music, one thing is for certain – his music is creative, intriguing and "in the pocket." With approximately sixty minutes of music here, one could only wonder what other hip arrangements could have been added to the collection.

Track Listing: 1. Summer in Paris starring Anggun 2. Welcome to Soulshine 3. Love Junkee starring Cameo 4. For Aaliyah 5. Condor (Espionage) starring Baldhead Slick 6. To Be Continued 7. Childs Play starring Filet of Soul 8. The Show 9. Bounce 10. Soulshine starring Inlove 11. 3/4 Interlude 12. He's Gone starring China 13. Afu Ra Interlude 14. Voodoo Child starring Afu Ra 15. Elevation starring Donnie

Personnel: DJ CAM - turntables; Daniel Romeo - bass; Eric Legini - keyboards; Guillaume Naturel - sax/flute; Alexandre Tassel - trumpet; Robin Laurent - drums. Special guests - DJ Premier, Anggun, Larry Blackmon (Cameo), Baldhead Slick, Filet of Soul, Inlove, China, Afu Ra and Donnie.

Title: Soulshine | Year Released: 2003 | Record Label: KOCH International Jazz


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