A golden voice that’s like no other and brings truthful hard-hitting, not only rhymes, but lyrical knowledge, Ill Camille, isn’t just your regular female emcee, but a true emcee and wordsmith, in every sense of the word that Hip-Hop was brought up on. Which she proves over the mostly soulful and jazzy backdrops of her new album, Heirloom. An album for the everyday working man and woman, where she honors her well-rooted Los Angeles roots, that’s mostly inspired by the small, hard-working class L.A. community of her friends and family she grew up with in Leimart Park. The album is also a dedication in audio form to Camille’s long standing lineage and ancestry of that everyday struggling, just to get by, blue-collar worker, almost forgot about section of Los Angeles and how she uses her own obstacles and evolution through her music to hopefully affect society as well. The live instrumentation and thought-provoking storytelling on the albums very opening track, Black Gold, where Camille rhymes about her own struggles and resilience to give in, just like the struggling everyday worker, setting the very tone of the whole album.
On Heirloom, Ill also shows she isn’t just an ill emcee, but can also sing as well. Track 13, the appropriately titled, Duality, showing her duality to sing. As over the very experimental and soulful, mostly keys and guitar backdrop, she sings and rhymes about her struggles to stay true to her artistry without, “having to go to jail and be a prisoner of her thoughts,” and barely having any money makes it hard for her and her friends to realize and achieve their dreams, they stay up, late night, discussing. This is also showed on the very next track, the previously released, Punch and Rose Gold featured, São Paulo. A tribute to one of Camille’s biggest influences, Lauryn Hill, where she gives that Hill rap/sing vibe, as she rap/sings about how woman should respect themselves more and not sell themselves like a lot of women do now on Instagram and the women that struggle to do so a lot nowadays should be more truthful to their righteous self.
Definitely no one-trick pony, Camille shows the vast versatility and layers she has an emcee and artist throughout the album too. Whether it’s with hard-hitting ferocious rhymes on the opening track or the smooth laid-back chill and dreamy vibes of Trust Me, Almost There and Lighters. The very bouncy Mndsgn-produced lead single, Almost There, finding her rapping about the various struggles and perseverance’s she has had to go through on her comeup to get where she currently is in Hip-Hop and how she still isn’t even truly where she wants to be. While recent TDE signee, SiR, features on the track with a very solid guest rap verse. While his more sultry vocals he has recently garnered acclaim for, appear on Trust Me. The latter also being one of those almost cautionary tales about forgoing a momentary cloud of lust, over the soulfully and somewhat jazzy and bouncy, Iman Omari-produced backdrop. Lighters being another real jazzy backdrop, where Camille puts a very mellow and laidback feel on Queen Latifah’s, U.N.I.T.Y., as she raps about wanting to make more woman feel like queens and how she wants, “to really change the world,” through her music and the struggle she has had to do so, almost making her feel stuck like how she was when she was in a coma. Even adding a nice spoken word piece at the end on how she really truly hopes her music truly can touch and change the world.
Heirloom is also a piece of work that truly let’s Camille show the struggles she had to go through to even make this album, whether recently or at various other points of her life. One of the very first instances of that being on the intergalactic Georgia Anne Muldrow-produced banger, Home. A record that finds her and longtime collaborator, Damani Nkosi, rapping about the various struggles gone through in life to get home and finds her even briefly mentioning about the stroke she suffered last fall. This ironically enough comes up again on the also Nkosi featured track, Fight On. A track that also features Preston Harris and over the drums backdrop that plays like a band playing at a rally, rapping about the personal strength it takes for one to grow into the great person one ascends into and how honoring her brother stuck incarcerated in a cruel system, makes it hard to do so. Probably the most emotional and best example of this on the album though is the very laidback and mellow DJ Battlecat-produced, Spider’s Jam. Where over the very jazzy backdrop that almost feels like a live Jazz session, finds Camille giving more of an almost poetry type reading as an honor to her grandparents and long family tree, whom she somehow explains about a story with a spider, really helped her develop her spiritually and appreciation for music.
Camille doesn’t forget the working class women and queens, who go mostly forgotten in most mainstream circles too. As on another almost precautionary tale, with Slip Away, she also gives a very introspective evaluation of toxic relationships and a story about a toxic love she actually got and slipped away from because she actually listened to her mother, who thought that love was toxic. While on, Still a Lady, which is almost like a Woman’s History Month anthem, Camille rhymes and seeks a solution to the strained state of black love that results from social stereotypes and trickled down generational fears. She shows her versatility and relatability again on the JaVonte and Marknoxx featured, Few Days. Where she rhymes about the relatable struggles everyone goes through in life. The closing track, Renewed, maybe one of the most truthful and honestly raw tracks ever to close an album too, which is so heartfelt and vulnerable, it could either move or almost move you to tears. Dedicated to her late great father, it would make him look down very proud of where Camille has reached in her career now. That truthful and raw masterful lyricism spread throughout the whole album, leaving you absolutely speechless at times with how great the punchlines and every encouraging bar are. Spreading her blood, sweat and tears throughout, this is by far one of the best albums to come out this year and should even be nominated for a Grammy with how great it’s. Unfortunately that most likely wouldn’t happen, but shouldn’t matter because this album has the ability to do what Camille wanted it to. Which is to be a truly honest, relatable and encouraging heartfelt piece of work that truly touches and changes the lives of many others.