Friday, October 19, 2007

Boot Camp Clik

Boot Camp Clik is a loose congregation featuring similar-minded underground hardcore rappers like Originoo Gunn Clapaz, Cocoa Brovaz, Buckshot, Heltah Skeltah, Bucktown Juveniles, Jahdan, and Illa Noyz, all of whom are concerned about keeping the music real and on a street level. That meant much of the music on their debut, For the People, sounded a little similar; still, this is the very thing that makes Boot Camp Clik appealing to a certain audience. Their second record, The Chosen Few, appeared in 2002, and other followed: The Last Stand (2006), Still for the People (2007), and Casualties of War (2007).
Boot Camp Clik is an American hip hop supergroup from Brooklyn, New York. The group consists of Buckshot (of Black Moon), Smif-N-Wessun, also known as Cocoa Brovaz (Tek and Steele), Heltah Skeltah (Rock and Ruck, aka Sean Price) and O.G.C. (Originoo Gunn Clappaz) (Starang Wondah, Top Dog, and Louieville Sluggah). Though commercial success has largely eluded them, the Camp has gained a large following in the underground rap community. Principally known for their hardcore content, in their later years the group also began adding personal and socially conscious aspects to their lyrics, and were among the first rap acts to infuse elements of Reggae into their music. Buckshot, along with Black Moon, also helped establish the backpacker scene in underground hip hop. The Camp reached the height of their popularity in the mid-90s, with the release of four acclaimed albums, Black Moon's Enta Da Stage, Smif-N-Wessun's Dah Shinin', Heltah Skeltah's Nocturnal, and O.G.C.'s Da Storm. These albums spawned a number of underground rap hits, most notably Black Moon's "Who Got Da Props?" and "I Got Cha Opin (Remix)", Smif-N-Wessun's "Bucktown", "Sound Bwoy Bureill", and "Wrekonize", Heltah Skeltah's "Leflaur Leflah Eshkoshka", "Letha Brainz Blo" and "Operation Lock Down", and O.G.C.'s "No Fear", "Hurricane Starang", and "Danjer". Despite the acclaim of the albums and the minor success of the singles, no Boot Camp affiliated release was able to reach Gold sales status. Following the lukewarm reception for the Camp's first group album For the People, the crew's popularity began declining, eventually leading to a lengthy hiatus from the rap game. Since returning independently in 2002, the Camp has been able to regain their past popularity in underground hip hop with a number of acclaimed underground releases. Since their inception, the Boot Camp has spawned a number of affiliates. The group's earliest affiliate is the production-crew Da Beatminerz, lead by Black Moon's DJ Evil Dee and his older brother Mr. Walt. Da Beatminerz originally produced the majority of the Camp's work, but since 1997, they have taken a backseat to a number of outside producers. Other affiliates include rappers the Representativz (consisting of Supreme and Lidu Rock, the younger brother of Heltah Skeltah's Rock), Illa Noyz (the younger brother of Heltah Skeltah's Sean Price), M.S., LS, BJ Swan, The BTJ's (Bucktown Juveniles), Rustee Juxx, Doc Holiday, Thunderfoot and Lil' Hardcore, Reggae-vocalists Jahdan and Twanie Ranks and R&B-vocalist group F.L.O.W. Though Black Moon is closely connected to the group, members DJ Evil Dee and 5ft are not official members of the Boot Camp Clik.


The Boot Camp Clik is a bit like a low-rent Wu-Tang Clan. Instead of establishing themselves as a crew before recording an album together, the rappers -- including Heltah Skeltah, Smif-N-Wessun and OGC -- each made solo albums and reunited in 1997 to make For the People. Happily, the group used the opportunity wisely, deciding to forge ahead to new sonic territory. Leaving gangsta rap and standard funk behind as the group abandons their production crew Da Beatminerz, the Boot Camp Clik has created an appealingly off-kilter sound that relies equally on wobbly rhythms, old-school synths and acoustic instruments. There are times that the mix is too dense, particularly when the group tries to get slow and soulful, but For the People is the best thing anyone in the Boot Camp Clik has yet produced.
Five years after their first full-length, Boot Camp Clik came together again with an LP that finally delivered on the promise that'd kept hip-hop fans hoping for an album to rank with incredible singles from the collective like Black Moon's "How Many Emcees" and Smif-N-Wessun's boot-camp anthem "Bucktown." Featuring the combined talents of members of Black Moon and Cocoa Brovaz (the reincarnated Smif-N-Wessun), plus Originoo Gun Clappaz, The Chosen Few is one of the tightest rap albums of the year. Better yet, it succeeds by keeping it simple: the production, the beats, and the themes -- nearly everything except the rapping. The productions come from a parade of family members (da Beatminerz, Hi-Tek, Coptic) with nothing to prove on their own, instead simply concentrating on constructing tough beats and kinetic tracks. The crew set it off with a pair of openers, "And So" and "Let's Get Down 2 Bizness," that top anything heard on 1997's For the People. From there, Boot Camp Clik cycle through everything that fans could've asked for; a crazy party track ("That's Tough [Little Bit]"), a classic beat-down on "Whoop His Ass," and a rough-and-rugged "Bucktown" sequel ("Welcome to Bucktown U.S.A."). Considering nearly all of them have their own projects on the front burner, it may be awhile for another full LP from Boot Camp Clik, but the collective have left listeners with plenty to keep them happy.

The Last Stand is the third group album from Hip Hop collective Boot Camp Clik, released on July 18, 2006. The group consists of Black Moon's Buckshot, Smif-N-Wessun's Tek and Steele, Heltah Skeltah's Rock and Sean Price, and O.G.C.'s Starang Wondah, Louieville Sluggah and Top Dog. The album marks the return of Rock, who had left Duck Down Records in 1999 to pursue a solo career.
Popular producers involved in the project include Pete Rock, Da Beatminerz, 9th Wonder and Large Professor.
The first track released from the project was "Trading Places", which was also the first music video from the album. The first official single released was "Yeah", which features "Trading Places" and "Let's Go" as the B-Side.



Casualties of War is a continuation of the productivity that East Coast underground rap favorites Boot Camp Clik sparked in 2005, when they released a rash of high-quality solo projects (Sean Price's Monkey Barz, Buckshot's Chemistry, Smif-N-Wessun's Reloaded) on Duck Down Records, followed by a couple collective efforts, The Last Stand (2006) and Still for the People (2007). Casualties of War is comparable to recent efforts by the Boot Camp Clik, be they solo or collective: rugged rappers rhyming over hard-hitting beats with simple hooks, without any commercial gloss whatsoever -- no marquee-name guests, nor any hitmaking producers. Whereas The Last Stand had boasted production by classic N.Y.C. beatmakers Da Beatminerz, Pete Rock, and Large Professor, Casualties of War lists a more modest roster: 9th Wonder ("I Need More") and Marco Polo ("My World," "I Want Mine") are the most notable producers on tap this go-round, along with Coptic and Dan the Man, who get multiple credits each. The highlights of Casualties of War come during a standout four-track run that includes "What You See," "BK All Day," "My World," and "I Need More," though the album never hits a dull stretch, wrapping up after a solid 14 tracks in 45 minutes. The title track is another noteworthy highlight, graced with a heartfelt production by Marvel. Casualties of War is another respectable effort from the Boot Camp Clik, one that bodes well for the future of the collective. A dozen years after the founding of Duck Down Records, Buckshot, Sean Price, Tek, Steele, and company seem to have lost very little of their hip-hop spirit. If anything, they've grown into seasoned professionals enjoying a good, steady grind at this moment in time.

This compilation from the Crooklyn warrior b-boy crew known as Boot Camp Clik contains a cross section of the posse's hits. BCC brought a military attitude and a rough, rumbling sound to the hip-hop table. The sound and feel is the essence of the Boot Camp, largely provided by the production team, the Beatminerz. Two members of the production squad, DJ Evil Dee and Mr. Walt, deployed missile-type beats with a signature bone-snapping snare. On the microphone, Boot Camp soldiers possess the kamikaze philosophy of infantrymen and the skills and wit of generals. Beats and flows are fashioned by the notion of Brooklyn as a treacherous abyss of warfare and gunplay, a proving ground for mental and physical toughness. Black Moon was the first out the gate with the 1993 release of Enta da Stage, an underground favorite that found mild commercial success with the remix of "I Gotcha Opin," which lifted Barry White's "Playing Your Game, Baby" effortlessly. Enta da Stage introduced the focal member and mastermind of the crew, Buckshot the B.D.I. In late 1993, the next battalion, Smif N' Wessun (later incarnated as the Cocoa Brovaz), dropped "Bucktown," the anthem for the Camp, and their blistering debut, Dah Shining, followed shortly thereafter in 1994. Heltah Skeltah and O.G.C. teamed up as the Fab Five in 1995 with "Lefleur Leflah" to take BCC into a newer, funkier direction. These two platoons followed in the footsteps of their Boot Camp predecessors laying further claim to the Brooklyn battlefield. Heltah Skeltah's debut Nocturnal and O.G.C.'s debut Da Storm took the Boot Camp back to the basement. With the heartbeat of Brooklyn beating within them, BCC is a unified collective that invented a rugged sound.


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