A couple of years ago, Harlem rap king Cam’ron emerged from a long period of seclusion and started cranking out music, once again, like nobody’s business. Except back then, he was estranged from his old Dipset crew, and he had this young no-name Harlem guy called Vado on virtually every track. At least in my circle of friends, we greeted the arrival of Vado with a sort of deep annoyance. We wanted to hear Cam back with his Dipset cronies, not devoting vast amounts of mixtape time to this guy. He sounded like Jim Jones, but he wasn’t Jim Jones, and that was a problem. But after a while, we all figured out that this Vado guy is actually really good — a rangy young-lion type with a great signature ad-lib (“sliiiiiime!“) and a blustery energy that nicely complemented Cam’s aloof word games. Cam and Vado went on to record about 15,000 mixtapes together (slight exaggeration), culminating in last year’s “Speaking In Tungs,” an actual hit song. And now that Cam is once again back with his Dipset crew, Vado has earned himself a spot at the table. He is worthy of our attention.
Cam barely showed up on Slime Flu, Vado’s debut solo album last year, and Vado carried it all himself. And Slime Flu 2 (a mixtape, not an album, for some reason) doesn’t have a single Cam’ron appearance, and it’s not really worse off for it. The tape does have a few issues; it’s too long, it’s uneven, the mastering is a mess. But it still works as a slick-but-gritty New York hardcore-rap record, and we don’t get enough of those anymore. The producers favor a sparkly, synth-heavy sound, one that recalls ’80s action-movie scores without sacrificing bottom-heavy thump. And Vado’s good at generalized tough-talk and better at song-length narrative tales, usually about crime but sometimes about relationships. And he sounds perfectly comfortable alongside NYC relative-elder types like Raekwon and Fabolous. (Yes, Fabolous counts as an elder by this point. He’s been around for like 12 years!)
All of which is to say that Slime Flu 2 sounds very much like something that could’ve been heard banging out of New York’s range rovers in, say, 1998. It’s a Tunnel-banger record — not an album of flight-music revivalism like Waka Flocka Flame’s Flockaveli, but the work of someone who internalized that style because he grew up immersed in it. As such, it’s not a classic or anything, but it is a completely entertaining throwback to a truly fun era in rap. Cam’ron did us a favor by discovering this guy.
Download Slime Flu 2 for free at Dat Piff.