Los Angeles rapper Ill Camille hooked me during my first trip through her sophomore album, Heirloom. Her lyrical prowess and storytelling were so moving, I immediately reached out to her on Instagram and asked if she would like to perform a Tiny Desk. "Please don't make me cry right now. Tiny Desk!?!? You don't understand. I've been praying on this", she replied. "This (message) made my year and my band is ready!"
Ill Camille strays a bit from the hip-hop zeitgeist. She raps about love and family serving as the source of her strength, the importance of self-worth as a woman, and the necessity to nurture oneself from within. That core keeps her secure even when confronted by the despair of poverty and the difficult grind of a young artist. And you can hear all that front and center in her music.
Her voice is like a cool drink on a summer's day: smooth, clear and replenishing. Her refreshing self-awareness and raw honesty are inherent in each song, pairing nicely with the jazzy, melodic rhythms provided by her close knit crew of musicians. The first two songs, "Spider's Jam" and "Live it Up," feature long time collaborators of Camille's, Iman Omari and drummer Greg Paul of Inglewood collective The Katalyst. Aneesa Strings, a bassist from the Bay Area, provided the low end foundation while also lending her rich vocals to "Fight On." Also, guesting on this song is fellow L.A. native and emcee Damani Nkosi, who's been rocking with Camille since her debut album, The Pre-Write. The four-song set concluded with the upbeat "Again," an ode to happiness and self-actualization.
Camille Davis (vocals), Iman Omari (keys), Greg Paul (drums), Aneesa Strings (bass), Damani Nkosi (vocals)
Producers: Abby O'Neill, Dani Lyman; Creative Director: Bob Boilen; Audio Engineers: Josh Rogosin, J. Czys; Videographers: Morgan Noelle Smith, Dani Lyman, CJ Riculan; Production Assistant: Joshua Bote; Photo: Eslah Attar/NPR.
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