By BRUCE DENNILL
With a pandemic, racial injustices and the crazy politics of the last few years, Americans may have been in need of a major pick-me-up. Recording artist Cameo Bobo, from Nashville, offered that much-needed motivation in a song called 2020 Is My Year, an up-tempo dance single packed with positive vibes.
“Influence” is a loaded, often misunderstood concept. An artist may sound similar to another but have no knowledge of them, or be a super-fan of someone whose output is completely different to their own. Who or what was the artist, album, song, era or scene that initially mapped out the road to you becoming a musician?
I would say my musical influences were from the late Eighties to Nineties era. I grew up listening to East Coast (LL Cool J, Kool Moe Dee, Salt n Papa), West Coast (Ice Cube, Snoop, Tupac) and underground (Three Six Mafia, Play Fly, Skinny Pimp) hip hop. During that time, hip hop music and fashion was evolving and screaming with the message of creative freedom, which helped map my creative and music path.
Has that changed over the years? If so, how and why, and what are you currently exploring?
It’s changed a little. I now find myself exploring the Seventies music that my father blasted on vinyls in our family home while I was growing up. Many songs from the Seventies soul era carried important, influential messages related to civil rights, drugs and poverty. Listening to how those artists sang about hard topics with such inspiration, hope and passion, has shown me how I can intertwine relevant messages into my music.
Name one song you wish you’d written or one you’d like to be known as the definitive interpreter of. What makes that song so important?
Michael Jackson – Man In The Mirror. That song will cause any person, no matter their country, culture or race, to self-reflect on the type of energy or impact they’re making on themselves, others and the world. The song, at the same time, encourages people to take a bold step and change for the better. The passion, lyrics and delivery Michael put into that song was literally heaven sent.
In production and arrangement terms, what are facets of your music and the music you love most by others that you feel are crucially important in terms of creating the mood you’re after or supporting the message of your song?
I believe the beat, drives the song. My goal when creating a song is to catch the listener as soon as the beat starts. Also, a great hook, and ad libs make the song a winner for me. I’m a big TI fan – his beats, hooks and ad libs always deliver.
How important are visuals in terms of the music you release? Detailed album sleeves and beautiful gig posters aren’t as much a part of the industry as they used to be, but what a listener sees – from a music video to some artwork on a streaming platform, might draw their attention to a song, or help them remember it.
Growing up, the highlight of buying a CD for me was opening the package. Pulling out the CD sleeve, reading the thank yous, credits and looking at the imagery and artwork was amazing, especially if the artist included the lyrics. Video is king for an artist. Through video, I can create as many 15- or 30-second commercials for my music as I want to share with my fans. Plus, with creative videos, I can draw more fans with dance challenges and Tik Tok releases.
What is the story behind 2020 Is My Year – the genesis of the song, the people involved, the muse behind its creation?
The song came to me earlier this year during the pandemic. While riding in my car, dealing with discouragement, I started encouraging myself with the melody, “2020 is my year, I ain’t never gonna stop cause God, He got me poppin!” Those lyrics stayed with me over the next few days, so I reached out to producer Tim Hill, who’s worked with Boyz II Men and others, to record the song. We recorded the song and I’m so glad we did! It was a challenging year in many ways, but I’ve found that simply keeping my words and mindset focused on the positive aspects in life has really helped me cope and brought great things into my life. My desire is that as people sing, “2020 is my year”, those same positive vibes will come into their lives.