TD Camp came into Hip-Hop in a different era. Long before bling, commercialism, myspace/youtube views, ProTools or ringtones became part of the equation, TD was tracking down the hottest battle emcees in The Bay Area, digging for rare grooves at the Groove Merchant’s Haight Street vinyl emporium, trading tapes with Hieroglyphics (when the now-legendary crew were in their infancy) and hosting recording sessions in his parents’ basement while his father, a university professor, conducted vocal lessons upstairs with classical singers.
As a child, TD played saxophone, so he always had a grasp of music theory. At age 16, inspired by Jam Master Jay and Red Alert, he bought his first set of turntables. “Hip-Hop, that was the music of our generation,” he says. “People really loved it back then. It wasn’t about what they could get out of it.”
Back in the day, before the culture went mainstream, he notes, “there were more rappers in the streets. The battle aspect of it, that was big.” Armed with two Technic 1200s, a cassette deck (for “pause” mixes), and later, a four-track, TD started recording with the rappers and groups he met during freestyle ciphers at Washington High School, producing some of the earliest representations of what would later be immortalized as the Bay Area independent Hip-Hop scene. “I was always making beats. The studio was my classroom,” he recalls.
Eventually, a few of the groups and artists he was recording with came together to form Bored Stiff. TD produced seminal demos for Bored Stiff, as well as other early Bay Area indie groups like Elements of Change and 3 Shades of Rhythm. The groups were offered major record deals which could have altered the landscape of history, but, wary of industry rule #4080—record company people are shady—turned them down. As TD admits today, “we were just hardheaded.”
While some of his local contemporaries in indie Hip-Hop’s golden age attained wider recognition, TD’s talent for beatmaking has always
been evident. At the tender age of 18, his 4-track mixes were played on Sway & Tech’s “The Wake-Up Show,” when it was still headquartered at SF’s KMEL. In 1993, he produced Bored Stiff’s “Therapy,” which was included on the classic, long-out-of-print Bomb Hip-Hop Compilation, alongside then-unknown artists like Blackalicious, Mystik Journeymen, Peanut Butter Wolf and DJ Qbert. As serious collectors are no doubt aware, Bored Stiff’s, Explainin’ EP on vinyl now commands upwards of $150 on eBay.
ool of Music, Art, and Social Justice. This experience has allowed him to understand the younger generation’s struggle in a way which has eluded many older folks. The nihilistic, violent image of street rap has become so pervasive, he says, “Kids have no idea they can be themselves.”
According to the veteran producer, the art of making beats is similar to the craft of carpentry: “it’s all about a certain rhythm and knowing what tool to use.” With his studio work, his goal is simple: to put out classic material which stands the test of time: “If you build a strong foundation, it’ll be there forever.”
TD feels the reason he’s spanned so many eras of Bay Area Hip-Hop is due to the fact that “I never got pigeonholed.” Though his work has encompassed a wide range of musical styles and subgenres within hip-hop, “At the core, I’m really a crate-digger,” he emphasizes with a knowing grin.
Listen to TD CAMP's mixes www.mixcrate.com