Keno Camp is a collective of five brothers from California who are all dedicated to outreach in their local community. Recently signed to Trendency Records, these brothers have blended their creativity to offer up a new project, Riot, to kick off their new deal and the new year. Wadeoradio.com covered a story about Keno Camp not too long ago, reporting how CHH veterans Gospel Gangstaz give their personal co-sign to this group for legitimate credibility. So, with two nods of the head towards their record, I went into this review session with some small expectations, but nothing too large, as I hadn’t heard anything from these brothers before. After giving the project a few spins, I believe I can accurately pinpoint what is conveyed in their album.
What I liked
First off, I’ll start by saying that I was thoroughly surprised by the ability of flow that a handful of these brothers possess. In a genre where a handful are known to be able to go faster than 150 BPM with their mouth, some of these guys were doing it for entire verses without losing any breath! The first track, “California Burning”, starts off as a moderately paced song, but second track in, there are some of the fastest bars I’ve ever heard for more than half a verse! I’ve always been enamored by the skill of “fast rap” growing up with Bone Thugs-N- Harmony, so it makes sense that some brothers from the west coast have the same skills. And it wasn’t the kind that is drab, monotone, hard to understand, or uninteresting.
For the most part, it fit the songs that were being played and the cadences matched the beats on the time signature well, so it helped drive the song along. I say “for the most part” because there were 2-3 songs that weren’t the same as others, and I felt the way they had been rapping up to then weren’t fitting them. So, a change up in style for those songs would’ve done some good, but overall they vocals matched.
Track-wise, I liked “Obey.” This song is pure west coast. The beat plus the chorus is infectious. It’s a fun track that is perfect to dance to. Not much else I can say to explain that. The song “Cocktails” has a breakbeat inspired rhythm, with a singer’s soulful lead that draws up an emotion of a down south blues tune. But blues would be a fitting sub-genre for this song because the content of it is about the things in this world that are tragic; Circumstances that seem to go unchanged, hurts that seem to only be getting worse, putting forth a spotlight on some real ways of life in this country.
In the creative process of making this album, I know that Keno Camp’s heart is to evangelize. This creates the desire to have songs in your repertoire that are transparent and real to what you see in your area everyday. But I am a bit conflicted about how this affected the overall concept of the album. I appreciate how Keno Camp took the time to make songs that were from other points of view, like being a man struggling with anger in “I Ain’t The One”, or use the medium of story telling to get a point of redemption across like in “Love Scars”, but I was struggling to see how some of these songs fit into the title Riot.
I enjoyed the display of the reality in ministry heard in “Time Will Tell” because its a real misconception that touring and doing music for The Lord is glamorous and easy. Anyone who has been feeling ministry fatigue should take a listen to this song to get their head back in the game. These are all great concepts for songs, but even as a I rack my brain at this moment to think of any possible order these could go in to tie into the title, I haven’t the slightest idea how they help bring everything together from a conceptual point of view.
Riot from the brothers of Keno Camp stays true to who they are: Ministers of the gospel from Compton. They have a style and flair that are homegrown from the west coast and they use it by the grace of God to reach those who haven’t heard the good news of Jesus in their community. Its evident in their music that they are passionate about ministry, about evangelizing, and about conveying the messages in the Bible with clarity, and in THEIR style.
I believe that music can be regional in influence, so if you love the Cali sound, you will like hearing these brothers do what they do. It has the appeal to reach others in other parts of our nation because it’s not full of beats that are all west coast oriented, but, from the bottom of their souls, these brothers are west coast and they are unashamed about it. If you are interested in seeing how some outreach ministry goes down in Compton, pick up Riot by Keno Camp, and you will get a good glimpse of how these five men of God are using their talents to reach souls in their communities.