As one of the most unique personalities the genre has ever seen, Cam’ron has been in the forefront at some of the genre’s most pristine movements (Roc-A-Fella and Dipset) and often credited as a great surveyor of talent. Given the manner for which he has been able to reinvent himself with the changing climate of the music, it is sometimes hard to imagine this is the same guy who once went bar for bar with the likes of Big L and Murda Ma$e. Still, his career has also seen its fair share of potholes, many of which continue to loom large. Through it all, however, Cam’s unselfishness to share the notoriety has remained fully dressed bringing us to the present day and his official joint project with his understudy Vado, Gunz N’ Butta.
What is interesting to note is only one guest appearance, Skylnn, join Cam, Vado and familiar producer AraabMuzik on their musical excursion. From the glass-half-full approach, such a predicament is blissful as it allows the listener to truly grasp the on-wax chemistry the two Harlem Knights have showcased over the course of several previous releases. Understanding his counterpart’s career still has several chapters left to write themselves, the elder Cam often plays the background letting his neophypte steal the show. On the album’s second track, “American Greed,” Flea acknowledges the potential of his successor with “Vado got a vision that’s so raw/Say no more/Rewind, he remind me of me in ’04.”
All is not wavy as Gunz N’ Butta is not without its shortcomings. By the time the album nears its halfway point though, the pizazz that shrouded it in the beginning reaches dangerously low levels. Hardcore fans of both can likely overlook this slight. Those looking to newly immerse themselves in the world of Uptown’s Melo and Amar’e may find themselves making a quicker exit than the basketball duo’s playoff debut. “Be With Me” conjures memories of when the Diplomats utilized soul sampled beats making them their staple. Unfortunately, it stands as the last track which means the listener either has to force themselves to sit through several mundane offerings or skip to the end.
Gunz N’ Butta is about as skin-deep an album as one will hear in 2011. The actual rapping from Cam’ron and Vado is not the project’s ultimate downfall; the lethargic and uninspired subject matter is. For Cam, one must wonder if making a LP on par with Purple Haze, Come Home With Me or even Killa Season is even on his radar. Vado, on the other hand, has the opportunity to take this as a learning lesson. Careers are defined and ridiculed for one album. While this will not make or break Vado’s vocation, recognizing the lapses in cohesiveness is imperative if he wants to cruise in his own lane instead of simply being labeled “Cam’ron’s artist.”