The Griselda universe is indeed becoming ever larger; prominently, Westside Gunn, Conway The Machine and Benny The Butcher are all sharing their platform with a new cohort of talented spitters. Gunn is bolstering the likes of Rome Streetz and Estee Nack (to name a few), while Conway is pushing 7xvethegenius and Jae Skeese under his Drumwork imprint. Meanwhile, Benny is taking his Black Soprano Family to the next level.
29-year-old Buffalo MC Elcamino has been around the core trio from its early days, dropping his eponymous debut tape via Griselda in 2017.
“I was right there, man,” he tells DX. “It was great that they were letting me put my stuff out. [Gunn] had just dropped his Flygod album a year before that; I was definitely in the cipher.”
Being at ground zero for Griselda’s rise from a calm sea to a tsunami really drove Mino’s independent grind, having built an extremely loyal following and an extensive catalog of music.
“It was put in front of me to see; that’s like the best way to learn. I was just watching, and then I was doing it,” he says.
Though he remained a recognized affiliate, making numerous appearances on high-profile releases over the years, he only officially signed with Benny’s BSF last year. Now, he is dropping his official debut on the imprint: They Spit On Jesus — produced entirely by Ill Tone.
It’s a release he admits has been a long time in the making.
“I had the name [for the album] for like two years; but see, I move at a certain pace where it’s like a year could fly by and—even if I haven’t been putting anything out—I’m active,” he explains. “I’m still working, putting something together. I just take my time.”
I’ve put so much work into this [album], as far as the creative process and the creative direction I took,” he states.
The album artwork features a distinctly hedonistic take on Leonardo Divinci’s “The Last Supper”; not wanting to give the wrong idea, he is quick to credit the artist for the direction of the cover, adding he just painted what came to him.
“I’m very biblical with all of my stuff; I’m always quoting Bible verses or recalling something I heard in a church,” he explains, adding that his mother raised him in the church. It’s a revelation that makes his soulful singing voice seem less surprising; it also brings further clarity to album titles like Lot & Abraham, Don’t Eat The Fruit, Walk In Faith and Walking On Water—among others.
The new LP is poised to give Elcamino that final push into the notoriety he’s been working toward up to this point in his career—and it’s only the beginning.
“I got some shit up my sleeve. I’m working on some shit. I’m just trying to stay consistent,” he says with a laugh. “I got a game plan.”
Read and listen below as Elcamino breaks down some of his favorite tracks from They Spit On Jesus.
“Victory” feat. Inspectah Deck
This song was huge, man. You know what’s crazy? It was huge for me, but I feel like it was more for the Tone; he grew up on Deck. I’m telling you, he almost passed out when I played that shit to him.
It’s probably the biggest, most legendary shit I’ve ever done so far. I grew up on [Wu-Tang] too, because my pop still played them when I was young.
It’s interesting because if you try to cross-reference the Griselda family tree with that of Wu-Tang, it’s easy to envision you as the Deck of the camp.
That’s facts. People always say that Deck was one of the hardest dudes in the Wu — the best lyricist in the group. I hear that all the time. I don’t get those comparisons, but I’ve been told I was the best before.
“War Ruckas” feat King Ralph & Havoc
I had that song for, like, three years, maybe four years. I ain’t gonna lie, King Ralph, man, he killed this. You have to watch out for him. He is on his way. He’s arrived, but he’s definitely on his way.
It’s pretty crazy that your actual debut had Prodigy on it, and this BSF debut has Havoc on it; it’s really full circle.
That’s a fact. That’s why I did it. See, not everybody peeped that. I had to do that.
I’ve been getting love from a lot of the legends, bro. That’s why I hold my head high all the time, because it’s like a lot of legends love me. If the newer artists don’t pick up on me, I ain’t really tripping. But as long as the legends fuck with me, that really keeps me going.
“Cry With Me”
“Cry With Me” is another one of my favorites; it’s about my sister. It’s really deep—it has a lot of meaning to it.
[Mino’s sister Zion passed away on August 8th, 2020.]
“Tap In” feat. Armani Caesar
I actually made this specifically for Armani to get on; she’s raw as fuck. She got skills, bro. That was Benny’s play. I told him that’s what I wanted on it.
She killed that shit, bro. I feel like Armani is at least one of the top three female rappers. At least the top three. She ain’t the third one. Her versatility is on a different level.
“They Spit On Jesus” feat. Fuego Base
This intro is hard, with my man Fuego Base.
Fuego Base is dope; he’s super underrated.
Base is one of my favorite rappers, man. That joint right there has some kick to it; it should have your car whamming.