K Camp Takes a Step in the Right Direction on ‘Lyric Ave’
K Camp opens his new EP by saying that he is “not a rapper.” The statement is inherently confusing seeing as the EP itself is titled Lyric Ave. Claiming not to be a rapper whilst naming a project after rap’s key component is a strange move to make right off the bat but the sentiment becomes more clear as the quick six-song EP unravels further. In essence, what Camp is trying to prove is that he is a different breed of artist -- one that isn’t “just rappin'” or “expressin' emotions through some God damn captions.” This project is definitely his most distinctive to date but simply declaring to be different doesn’t necessarily make the statement wholly true.
The 2015 XXL Freshman’s catalog has steadily become more mature and tactically evolved from the handful of tracks that earned him that very spot. Tracks like “Money Baby” and “Cut Her Off” were contemporary hits that deserved the recognition he received but not enough to sustain an entire career. Lyric Ave thankfully isn’t half a dozen remakes of previous hits and is a more stripped down version of what Camp is capable of creating. However, claiming to be totally different than everyone else is a big statement when many tracks on the effort cling onto the recurring themes of money and women.
When it comes to the title track, the most relevant quotables and well-constructed lyrics are featured by far. Bobby Kritical cooks up a smooth open-aired beat that lets Camp get some clear and concise rhyming grievances off his mind. There is also a hint of humility in this cut as he delivers, “Uber outside, I see you next week/Uber XL, you know a nigga cheap” -- it’s a nice break from the landslide of flexing that proceeds it on the next five songs.
“Fuck Is Up” follows a similar trajectory to some of his previous hits (simple lyrics with a catchy chorus) but his previous beatsmiths Music Majors serve up a contagious beat that kicks up the song a notch. In fact, other than the intro track that bodes well with the bars, the beats take center stage throughout the entire EP. It’s unfortunate that Camp made an entire song around “putting it in a cone” because Zaytoven’s tropical trap fusion on “Ice Cream” is definitely one to remember; it’s the type of beat that Camp wouldn’t have touched with a 10-foot pole three years ago. If there’s a hit to be found on Lyric Ave then it's “Free Money” featuring Slim Jxmmi, one-half of Rae Sremmurd. Overtly tailor-made for the strip club, Camp and Jxmmi run through all the gentlemen’s club anthem stereotypes that will undoubtedly sneak onto everyone’s guilty pleasure playlist.
On the EP closer, “Hungry N Lurkin,” K Camp tops off a melodic, one-word rhyming flow with, “Jumped in the game as a student now I feel like the teacher.” After listening to this EP, it's easy to see how this is both true and false. The line holds true because in the grand scheme of Camp’s career to date, this project is definitely a graduation, not just sonically but also lyrically. On the other hand, Camp should still be considered a student with much to learn. Lyric Ave is a step in the right direction but not quite the game changer fans may be expecting.
See New Music Releases for September 2016