Cam Be
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Cam Be

Chicago, IL | Established. Jan 01, 2018 | SELF

Chicago, IL | SELF
Established on Jan, 2018
Solo Hip Hop Soul

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"7 Steps To 7 Review"

Cam Be has been around a lot, just not these parts. A veteran Chicago photographer, videographer, multi-instrumentalist, and producer, he’s known primarily as the former two. Today, making his FSD debut, Cam gives us 7 Steps to 7, a musical composition produced by him to act as a soundtrack to his brand new exhibition, So I Wrote Love in the Sky. To assist with the 8-track offering, Cam recruits a mob of Chicago vocalists and musicians, including Add-2, Sam Trump, J-Ivy, and more. The result is an R&B project that goes way beyond just an accompanying piece to his art exhibition. - Fakeshore Drive


"Cam Be Interview"

We connected with Cam Be, a very talented film director, photographer, musician, DJ and music producer from Chicago for an exclusive interview. Cam Be recently released the very dope music video for the song “Miracles”, which appears on his debut album “7 Steps to 7”, so we discussed that as well as his photo exhibition "So I Wrote Love in the Sky", and much more.

After reading our Q&A with Cam Be, stream “7 Steps to 7” on the major streaming services and follow with him on social media. Major thanks go to Cam Be for connecting with us; we look forward to featuring Chicago’s Finest on DCWS again in the future!

Your bio is filled with accolades, one of them being an Emmy; what would you say is your biggest accomplishment thus far?

Honestly I think the biggest accomplishment is the fact I am still here as an artist. I think one of the largest struggles of being an artist is staying relevant and continuing to have people believe in your work. People’s interests change and the way media circulates changes. I have been able to create as a film and music video director, television producer, musician, and photographer, so the fact I have been able to be a full-time artist for the last 10 years, I think is my greatest accomplishment.

Of the 7 songs on your debut solo album "7 Steps to 7", why did you select "Miracles" to create a video for, and how did you come up with the treatment?

I plan to create a few visuals for my 7 Steps to 7. ‘Miracles’ was really the first concrete idea I had for a video. The idea for the song and the video was actually inspired by a real life butterfly that was living in my studio last summer. After a couple of weeks of seeing this butterfly flying around in my studio, just start looking stuff up on butterflies, how they represent hope and change among different cultures and people. So that research and butterfly gave birth to the song and video. When I finished recording my parts for the Miracles, which was the first song I fully created without rapping, just singing, the butterfly flew out the window and left. Which made the creation of the song feel a bit surreal. That butterfly left such a strong impression on me and I wanted to created a visual in which I was the butterfly on this journey. I have been working in animation for several years in a similar form and fashion on other music videos I have worked on (Ex. Talib Kweli & Rapsody - Life Ahead Of Me & Chance the Rapper - Angels) so this video was an extension of those same techniques.

Congrats on the album by the way, it's incredible. From a creative standpoint, how long did it take for you to write and record the album? And were there songs recorded that didn't make the cut?

Thank you! It actually was a 3 years process in total, but the first year was me getting back into music just feeling out the recording process again. The first 2 songs on the album ‘7’ which was originally a beat I got from Chicago music producer, Slot-A and ‘iDust’ which was a beat I got from Jamla music producer, Khyrsis, were the first two songs I made in that time. ‘7’ gave me the vision for the entire project and I just went from there, adding instrumentation and different parts from the beats they gave me. Then eventually I just created my own tracks from the ground up like ‘Miracles’ and ‘4Days,’ where I would lay down a guitar parts and basslines over beats I was putting together. Then really good friends of mine and fellow Chicago musicians, like Yaw, Sam Trump, and Jon Content would come by my studio and we would just create and record. I would then go back and piece things together which allowed me to map out the songs. There were several songs that didn’t make the cut for the album and that was ultimately decided by the fact that I didn’t want to have too many songs on the album and wanted to make sure the songs I used told the story I was trying to convey through the compilation. There are some full songs, some half song and just plain jams that I decided to leave behind.

For those of us who aren't able to view your photo exhibition "So I Wrote Love in the Sky", describe how the songs from "7 Steps to 7" and the exhibition intertwine and reflect each other?

‘So I Wrote Love in the Sky’ is a photo exhibition of long exposure photography in which I used a light source to capture me writing ‘love’ in different parts of the world in real time. I was able to cover 5 continents, 9 different countries and 15 different cities in this exhibition. ‘7 Steps to 7’ is the soundtrack to my photo exhibition and played during the opening of this exhibition.

The title of the album represents life coming full circle. Through sharing this idea of love in these places I’ve visited it carried me through a cycle of life. What that cycle meant for me was healing. The idea first of of having self love and from self love, my love for others around me and mankind in general can be cultivated. Writing love in the sky was in a way a representation of me reminding myself to love, a declaration, a claiming of that space and time in the cause of love.

The work of both of these projects started at the same time and the theme of love is intertwined throughout the album ‘7 Steps to 7.’ In addition, the lyrics of the album serve as the titles to the photos.

When you aren't in the recording studio, taking photos, filming, or DJing, how to you unwind and what do you do during your free time?

I love to travel going to different countries experiencing different things and different people. Travel has really helped me to grow as a person. I am a big foodie as well so I am always up from trying new food and new restaurants. I love basketball and I enjoying spending time with my family. I have nephews I love spending time with as well.

Would you say that the city of Chicago is reflected in your music? If so, how?

Chicago is certainly reflected in the music. Obviously, there is wave currently with the amazing artist and music coming out of Chicago. But also there is a rich history of Jazz, Blues and Soul music being created here. I was hoping that all of that would be reflected in ‘7 Steps to 7.’ Chicago’s imprint is on this entire album. The play of Sam Trump and David Ben-Porat on the horns can’t be mistaken or Jon Content funky style on the keyboard. The voice of Yaw and Natalie Oliveri was a big part of the album, these are all artist are in or from Chicago. Chicago is a great city as an amazing creative hub, I don’t think there would be a ‘7 Steps to 7’ if it wasn’t for Chicago. - DopeCauseWeSaid


"7 Steps to 7 Album Review"

Cam Be is a multi-dimensional artist. He is a prolific photographer, film director and musician and doesn't dabble in any of these pursuits. A couple of years back has was recognized with an Emmy award for his work in film and recently displayed some of his photographs in Chicago. 7 Steps to 7 is his first solo album and melds soul, funk, hip-hop and jazz. He went all out working with a large array of musicians who bring their talent to the album.

The album opens with “7” which splices together vintage electric piano, vocal harmonies and a deep cutting drum beat into a smooth sounding groove. The flow is great but so is the hook. It’s jazzy with a dab of A Tribe Called Quest. I was on board after the first track.

“ldust” is slightly off-kilter, dissonant and throws you into a dreamlike psychedelic haze. The drums and lead vocals keep the song from floating away. “Miracles” contains a smooth, jazzy ’70s flavor while “VII” felt like the best beatnik poetry reading you have ever heard. The mood is festive and fun on “4days” but above all else extremely chill.

There is wicked jazz on “Possibilities.” The way the vocals come in and and out of the mix is psychedelic and dreamlike. A female vocal arises out of nowhere and blends with a lead and then another vocal takes over. I really liked the inventive arrangement and structure on this song.

“Guns & Police” is arguably the grooviest song on the album. It’s instrumental with no lead vocals. The vocals that do make themselves known are in the background like ghosts. “Seven” closes the album which is a smooth and extremely serene and tranquil song.

​7 Steps to 7 excels at unique transitions with fading techniques. It really gives the whole album a dream like ephemeral quality that is highly original and unifies the album. The beautifully captured and produced elements don’t hurt in making it one of the best albums I have heard this year. Spread the word. Highly recommended. - Divide and Conquer


Discography

Cam Be - 7 Steps to 7 (2018)

Cam Be + Josh Free - Be Free (2015)

Untitled - Rebirth: Darkness (2010)

Untitled - Wake Up! (2007)

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Bio

Cam Be is a vocalist/rapper/producer from Chicago, his first debut solo album the soul, funk and hip-hop blending project ‘7 Steps to 7’ was released in 2018. Cam has been writing and performing music for over 15 years, first with his group Untitled releasing two albums (Wake Up! & Rebirth) and as a hip-hop duo Cam be + Josh Free (Be Free).  He has performed at a number of venues in and outside of Chicago including The Metro, Millennium Park, Subterranean, Cubby Bear, Columbia College, North Park University, The Rave (Milwaukee) and former venues like the Double Door, The Note and Funky Buddha Lounge.

Band Members