Within hip-hop, community and family always play a role, even if it isn’t always obvious behind the materialistic boasting and lyrical flexing. Compton rapper Ill Camille breaks tradition a bit by surfacing those underlying concepts through her poetic bars, especially in her 2017 album, Heirloom. A soulful ode to the contributions her extended blood community made to her development, Heirloom is more concerned with telling the stories of her parents, grandparents, aunts, uncles, and cousins than in showing off the trappings of success.
She brings that energy to her appearance on NPR’s Tiny Desk Concert series, a year after Heirloom‘s release. She holds court in the NPR office with a practiced ease and grace that’s engaging and enjoyable as she runs through songs like “Spider’s Jam,” “Live It Up,” “Fight On,” and “Again.” Her bandmates lay down some truly impressive grooves as she and guest rapper Damani Nkosi praise the underrated elements of hip-hop with sly rhymes and bold energy that belies the reaction Camille had when she was initially invited to do the show.
“Please don’t make me cry right now,” she implored upon receiving the invitation. “You don’t understand. I’ve been praying on this. This (message) made my year and my band is ready!” They more than prove it during their performance, which will certainly open a few eyes to this intriguing and creative talent from LA.
Heirloom is out now via Jakarta.