Camu Tao with Aesop Rock , El-P , Mr. Lif Cage and DJ Big Wiz as part of the DEF JUX SHOWCASE at CMW at the Opera House (735 Queen East), Friday (March 3), 9 pm. $30, advance $22, free w/ CMW wristband. 416-466-0313. Rating: NNNNN
Sharing a Def Jux showcase with backpack hiphop heavy hitters El-P, Aesop Rock, Mr. Lif and Cage, rapper/producer Camu Tao may be the least celebrated member of his extended family.
Yet anyone familiar with Camu Tao's creative contributions to recordings by S.A. Smash (with Metro), the Nighthawks (with Cage), the Weathermen (with Copywrite, Tame One, El-P and Vast Aire), the Central Services beatmaking operation (with El-P), back to the MHz classic World Premier, will know he's among the most talented and versatile artists on the entire roster.
He may choose to keep a low profile, but Camu Tao has proven his ability to shine in any context. It will be interesting to see what he does with a group of rock musicians behind him, which is what he's got planned for his next album, currently in pre-production.
"I feel like I'm surrounded by music that isn't true to life," sighs Camu Tao before a show in Boston. "It's to the point where it's cool to lie. The world is at war, thousands of people are dying in Africa, we've got an out-of-control drug problem and natural disasters like Katrina to deal with. The last thing I want to hear is another song about getting with somebody to have sex.
"I'm tired of being a consumer of a product that gives me nothing I can use in my day-to-day existence, not information, not a different perspective on what I'm going through, not even a small creative advancement. I'm getting no positive feedback whatsoever from the hiphop I'm hearing.
"I wanted to make the realest record I could, something with a positive message to make people feel good, the way I felt as a kid listening to records by David Bowie and the Beatles."
Camu says he's got about 10 songs ready and has put together a group, including Daryl Palumbo of Glassjaw, Sean Martin of Hatebreed, Matt Sweeney of Chavez, El-P and more.
"It should be finished by the summer and out this fall. I think it's gonna surprise some people."
No less startling will be Camu Tao's next Central Services release that he's been working on with El-P strictly on the down-low. Evidently, besides dropping dope rhymes and programming neck-snapping beats, Camu Tao is also a singer.
"I've never actually sung on a recording before, but it's something I do just as a joke in the studio now and then. One night we were chillin' and some awful song came on the radio and we got the idea of recording a parody just for fun.
"So I found a loop, wrote some lyrics off the top of my head and sang it on the spot. A couple of days later, we were listening back and laughing, and El-P said, 'Wait a minute, I think you got something here.'
"So for the next couple of months we'd sneak into the studio after midnight when no one was around. We wound up finishing about five, maybe six songs -- all singing, no rapping. We're thinking of releasing a Central Services EP, but it may take time cuz our schedule's hectic right now."