Exactly two years ago today, producer/emcee/singer Camu Tao passed away after losing a battle with lung cancer. The Columbus, Ohio native, a MHz group-mate with Copywrite and RJD2 was working on his solo debut King of Hearts on Definitive Jux Records. That album, reportedly finding Camu experimenting with genre and vocal delivery, will release on Fat Possum/Definitive Jux on August 17th.
With Def Jux founder and president El-P recently putting his Downtown Manhattan-based imprint on hold, Camu’s posthumous release will be jointly handled by Fat Possum Records, a cult-followed Mississippi-based Blues/Rock imprint.
“For two years I have written about Camu on this day,” wrote El-P in a statement. “Not a day has gone by that we, his family, friends and fans, haven’t thought about him. About who he was, what he did and what he never got the chance to do. About the talent he never got to truly share with the world and the love he did.”
The producer/former Company Flow member continued, “In many ways King of Hearts is a record of what could have been, a snapshot of an artist mid-evolution. In some ways it’s a diary discovered in the belongings of a friend who passed away. Or maybe it’s a scrap book of a master inventor with only half of the schematics of some incredible new invention detailed inside. You don’t need to see the invention fully realized in order to recognize the magnitude of the creative force behind For those of you who know, I don’t feel like I have to explain to you how important the release of King of Hearts is. He was, as I’ve said before, the secret none of us wanted to keep. He is a legend.”
With the release of King of Hearts, Definitive Jux is giving away the Frozen In Television EP by Central Services (El-P and Camu Tao), released originally in 2004. The work will be made for free download when King of Hearts is purchased.
With the release of the album, several of Camu’s contemporaries have spoken about the music. “These songs are so before their time it’s ridiculous. The melodies and harmonies are very clever, the lyrics are quick witted and his vocal arrangements are genius. People need to hear this shit and know this man’s story. Camu was a great future Ohio talent who I’m sure would have made a huge mark in this mediocre industry,” said fellow Buckeye State native, Kid Cudi.
“It’s a shame he couldn’t fully finish this record and an even bigger shame we lost him. You can feel the pain in his voice as you get lost in his words and music. King of Hearts is a masterpiece in the making,” said Cage, who worked with Tao on the Nighthawks album. Much of Cage‘s Depart From Me was reportedly inspired by Camu Tao’s death.
The album is said to be a collection of both finished and unfinished songs in Camu Toa’s possession at the time of his diagnosis and subsequent death.
King of Hearts is available August 17 on Definitive Jux/Fat Possum Records.