If you haven’t gotten in tune with the Buffalo hip-hop scene as of yet, you’ve seriously been missing out on some great music. The emergence of Griselda Records and their artists (Westside Gunn, Conway and Benny) have placed a spotlight on the city, something that Buffalo, along with the rest of Western New York, as not seen in regards to their music scene. Elcamino is also one of those emerging artists. After coming off his strong self-titled solo debut, which was released earlier this year, Camino has graced us with yet another project entitled, Walking On Water. Following a similar grimy tone to it’s predecessor, Walking On Water is yet another example of why the Buffalo scene is worth paying attention to.
Walking On Water is an album of triumph. At the end of the day, Camino is using his music to separate himself from his drug selling past. The “walking on water” concept is employed as a reference to Jesus Christ performing miracles. Camino believes it is a “miracle” he made it out of the streets of Buffalo alive. On the title track, he shares this sentiment: “The shit that I witnessed, you wouldn’t believe…”
The album cover itself, as well as the “Outro”, also pushes the concept that Camino is performing a miracle. Of course, he’s not the first rapper to turn a bad situation into a good one.
So what makes Elcamino’s music stand out amongst others?
Camino is very straight forward when it comes to his raps, something that can become a crutch. However, within the scope of Walking On Water, it works to his advantage. The simplicity and straightforwardness of Camino’s speak feels necessary for the raw content he is speaking on. His scratchy vocals and his “no bullshit” demeanor are enticing.
The production on Walking On Water provides a beautiful canvas for Camino to paint and detail his tales of drug slanging and braggadocio. A handful of the tracks on here, including “Coke” and “Rayful Bag”, are produced by Shay. Other producers that make appearances on here include Rick Hyde, IceRocks, and common collaborator, Boodeini, who produced the entirety of Elcamino’s solo debut.
It is the mesh of the two aspects I just mentioned that make Walking On Water so enjoyable. The beats are grim and stripped down, and they compliment Camino’s similarly grimy lyrics and mafioso content. It’s as if you’re kicking it with Camino himself in a dark alleyway and he’s telling you these stories face to face. It’s a perfect aesthetic for those who are fans of gangsta rap.
One track in particular that highlights this aesthetic is “Peter in a Porsche”, which has a sample of a Lil Boosie track in the beginning; a shoutout to Camino’s Baton Rouge origins. The track then swings into a slow guitar-lead beat with a near desperate sounding soul sample moaning, “Standing on the corner….somebody please…” Camino’s savageness rings soundly on this song:
“I’m having evil thoughts,
Walking ‘round in the dark
Choppa in my hand
I think somebody gettin’ walked
I’m layin’ in your bushes
I think somebody gettin’ stalked…”
It’s as if Camino almost wants someone to test him to prove that he really means everything he says in his lyrics.
There is, however, one instance on Walking On Water where Camino speaks from a more vulnerable state. On the track “Rosemary”, he reminisces his late grandmother and the impact she had on her life. It’s nothing overly complex…but you can hear the pain in his voice. The Al Green sample in the instrumental adds another wave of sorrow to the song. “My heart gone ain’t no replacing you…” Camino states as he recounts the moment he learned of her death:
“My baby sister called me crying,
And said Granny not waking up
I swore that she was lyin’
Yo, I wish that she was lyin’
I’m just sittin’ there silent…”
There are plenty of gangsta rap bangers on here that will almost certainly catch the ears of those who are fans of likes of Mobb Deep, Ghostface Killah, and Raekwon. In fact the song “Coke” shares the sample used on a Ghostface track called “Purified Thoughts”, from his 2010 album, Apollo Kids. The biggest standout banger on this project is “Rayful Bag”. The deep, cavernous piano used on the beat is menacing, as Camino pulls in his fellow Buffalo collaborator, Benny, for one of the most hard knocking thug anthems I’ve heard all year.
This album is a must for those who are fans of the Griselda movement, as well as those with an ear for gangsta rap. Walking On Water is yet another strong entry in the Buffalo, NY hip-hop scene, which continues to grow stronger every year.
Jake Milgate is a Staff Writer at Dead End Hip Hop. You can tweet at him here.