Sonny Cheeba, I’m glad you’re doing okay after your accident. How are you feeling?
Sonny Cheeba: Thank you, man. I mean, I just gotta go back for treatments. I would say in two weeks everything will be all right.
When you were in the accident, how serious did you think it would be?
Sonny Cheeba: I didn’t know what it was until I got up in the street. You feel it at the exact moment and then you feel it the day after, for some reason.
You guys are releasing a new mixtape, Stone and Rob. What are you doing on Stone and Rob that we haven’t heard you do before?
Sonny Cheeba: Well, I mean, I don’t know. You got some of our older joints and some new joints on there. I mean, the whole thing is new, that’s just in terms of what they wanted to hear.
I thought “On Smash” was a cool song in that showed your growth without leaving your roots. How did “On Smash” come together?
Geechi Suede: We wanted to have some New York energy with that sound. We listened to that sound and we wasn’t getting it from nobody else so we figured why not? Why not go that route with the first joint and come with some new energy? That’s what we came up with. Plus we had been wanting to rub elbows with Pete Rock for a minute now.
What was it like working with Pete Rock?
Geechi Suede: Working with Pete Rock was fun. The energy was all good in the stu. That’s how that came about. Rock said he had something for us and we met up and did it. The whole thing was just definitely out of nowhere. It came out of nowhere.
There was talk that The Lo-ah were going to officially change your name to The Lo. What’s the official name today?
Geechi Suede: Camp Lo, The Lo, Lo-ah. It’s still Camp Lo.
Sonny Cheeba: We were just running our mouths to each other and were talking about the new, new, new unit. We’ll always be Camp Lo and we just tried to blow it up like, ‘Oh my God, no more Camp? What are they doing?’ It’s still us. The music’s still us.
“Regulate” had the classic Camp Lo feel that I was really looking for in the new mixtape. How did that song come together?
Geechi Suede: Thank you. That was one of the earlier songs that we had done for this project. And working with Yazarah was great. That song is one of a few that we’ve done with Yazarah. That’s just one of the ones that we’ve done with her. It’s always fun working with her.
How important was it for you guys to have songs like “Regulate” that really embody what Camp Lo came in the game with?
Sonny Cheeba: It’s that good feeling music. It’s real important that we hit them with that. It’s like a sinister soul with a real drum-driven joint. We always talk about the drums and how the drums keep the music dark.
Looking at Stone and Rob as a whole, where would you place this in the Camp Lo discography?
Sonny Cheeba: I feel like we always touch home. We always touch what we did on Uptown Saturday Night. We’re always touching soul. We blast out on that. We went uptown on that album. Stone and Rob, we’re going to the gutter side.
Did you work with Ski on Stone and Rob?
Sonny Cheeba: Ski got something on there. There’s two joints that have been out. Ski did one of them. He’s on the mixtape.
Stone and Rob is considered a mixtape for Camp Lo. What’s the difference between a mixtape and album for you?
Sonny Cheeba: The album is going to have a whole theme all the way through. Everything is all connected, through every song. Mixtapes, you may have some songs that you put on there that have been around for half a second like the joint that Ski did. And it’s coming out through Soul Fever/Traffic.
And your next album A Piece of the Action is coming out on SRC, right?
Geechi Suede: That has a question mark on it.
I thought it was official.
Geechi Suede: We have been working with SRC but we have to decide if we want to continue working that relationship or not.
When you look at how the game is changing and how independents are doing okay and sometimes better than majors, what is the ideal home for Camp Lo today?
Geechi Suede: We gotta definitely maximize on the independent market right now. We have to find a place that has everything we want. You gotta kind of throw the line out there and see what you can get.
You’ve also been spending a lot of time working on music in North Carolina. Has that changed the Camp Lo vibe at all?
Sonny Cheeba: I mean, the meditation factor of it, hell yeah! You’re only thinking about one thing there. If you’re in NY you’re thinking about a whole bunch of things, like what you can get into and what’s going to pop up for the rest of the night. When you’re here, the shit that you plan to do, you do. That’s how it’s been going.
Is Ski the main reason you’re in North Carolina today?
Geechi Suede: Ski’s originally from here and obviously we’re from NY. We’re from the Bronx and we relocated out here in ’99 and that’s when we recorded “Cookers” and a couple of other joints and then in 2003 we did Let’s Do it Again and we’ve been recording in Carolina since 1999.
How’s the new album A Piece of the Action coming?
Sonny Cheeba: So far, so good. We got our dynamic joints that we did in the pocket. It’s just time for some new energy. We’re here and we’ve been sitting on them for half a second now. It’s time for a brand new energy. We don’t want it to sound like the mixtape. We don’t want it to sound like anything.
A Piece of the Action is titled after the Blaxploitation flick starring Sidney Poitier and Bill Cosby. How is that film an influence for your new album?
Sonny Cheeba: It’s not just after the flick, per se, but in a slang term, we’re calling this A Piece of the Action because that’s what it’s going to be, this one right here. We did Uptown Saturday Night and Let’s Do it Again. Those featured Sidney Poitier and Bill Cos doing their duo thing and A Piece of the Action is where we’re at now.
What would be your favorite movie from the ‘70s?
Sonny Cheeba: It gotta be Cooley High.
What would Camp Lo be without the ‘70s and Blaxploitation flicks?
Sonny Cheeba: We’da had some hard beats! Everything would have been straight BX. It would be the BX and b-boy music. Ultimately it was the ‘70s soul that influenced the b-boys coming up and the whole graffiti and breakdancing and all of that. That’s what raised us. It was a combination of that.
When you listen to your earlier music, especially “Luchini” and compare it to the music that’s coming out today by younger artists, do you feel like the game is catching up to the trends you started?
Geechi Suede: There’s definitely some things going on and it’s definitely all love. Cats always say that we were ahead of our time and BET doesn’t really think so. But nah, definitely I see that going on right now.
Your last project, Black Hollywood, was released in the summer of ’07. Are you happy with how that did?
Geechi Suede: That wasn’t an album. That was what this is. We were giving them some tranquilizers until we come with that knockout.
When do you think A Piece of the Action is going to come out?
Sonny Cheeba: It’s not going to fall behind the mixtape, which is out March 24.
Geechi Suede: It’s in the air right now because Ski just hollered and he’s talking about some stuff. There’s just a couple of things going on right now. We’re just trying to see what we’re going to do but right now we’re pushing Stone and Rob.
Sonny, you’ve been doing a lot of work with Apple Juice Kid as the group formerly known as Freebass 808 and now known as Smoking Apples. How did you guys link up?
Sonny Cheeba: I linked up with him through Suede. He told me he had a talented cat on the production side so we finally linked up and we did some outside work. We were throwing around ideas and mixing them up. He was bringing live musicians and we kept vibing like that. There’s a lot of beats and cats was on there and I was liking his energy because he was willing to listen to what I was talking about and I was willing to listen to what he was talking about. It all worked out.
What do you want the Camp Lo legacy to be when they look back on your careers?
Geechi Suede: We’re doing that right now. We got Charles Heron featured on Stone and Rob. We got artists coming through. We got a clothing brand. Pretty much when we sit back, it’s going to be looking at a spectrum of different arts we helped bring into existence, from our own and helping by being a part of different projects and different artists that we jel with and see their visions.
Sonny Cheeba: It’s like spinoffs, how one show spins off another show and it wound up being its own thing and cats was fans of that due to the fact that they were fans of the first one. That’s how cats want it. “Damn, they did it their own way! I ain’t never seen it done like that!” It was done our way.
Now more than ever it seems as though artists are trying to make their own slang popular. How do you feel the slang game is today versus ’96?
Sonny Cheeba: I would say more cats had their own slang back then than they do now. I think now somebody comes up with a word and everybody picks up all over it. If somebody from this side of town says something, everybody’s saying it. Back then it was just for me or you wouldn’t say it because “that’s from there.” Cats were doing it how they were brought up on that block or whatever. Now they ain’t versatile like they were back in the day.
What’s some new Camp Lo slang for ’09?
Sonny Cheeba: “On bang.” I run that all day, on bang. If you look at something and you say it’s “on bang” then that means it’s fire and it’s hot. You could be eating some food. “Oh, man, this is on bang.” It tastes good. There’s “scat.” That means you’re not doing it for real. You’re doing it for “scat.” A jukie juk, that’s for scat. (laughs) There’s a lot.