In February 2003, an unknown record label called Backwoodz Studioz put out an album called Camouflage, featuring an equally unknown artist named billy woods, in collaboration with Vordul Mega of Cannibal OX. The record was a limited pressing (only 400 original copies), poorly distributed and promoted by only a handful of shows, so it’s not surprising that Camouflage was relatively ignored at first and took till early 2004 to go out of print. Considering the relative notoriety of Vordul Mega on the heels of the Cold Vein’s success, this was an inauspicious beginning, but over the years Camouflage became the definition of a cult classic. The mix of literate lyricism, street-level realism, and prescient politics (recorded in early 2002, the album predicted both the Iraq War and the WMD fiction), found a small but passionate audience. Although albums like Mr. Lif’s Emergency Rations and Immortal Technique’s Revolutionary Vol. 1 & 2 instantly became the major touchstones of post 9-11 “conscious” underground hip-hop, over time Camouflage began to receive similar acknowledgement. Due to limited availability, original pressings are almost impossible to come by and even online bootlegs were rare because the album was never released digitally.
Camouflage is also significant as the genesis of collaborations that would flourish over the course of the new millennium. BOND handled most of the production on the album and would go on to become Backwoodz Studioz’s flagship producer, as well as crafting beats for underground artists like Hell Razah, Hasan Salaam and Vordul Mega. His unique style of chopping samples and ingenious collaging of found material would make him one of the singular, if underappreciated, artists of his era. No artist collaborated with BOND as much as billy woods however, the rapper who was as eager to claim his hometown of Maryland and Washington DC as he was his childhood in Africa. Over the years, woods continued to put out material, steadily becoming one of the most underrated and undeniably original and creative artists in the genre. Vordul Mega and billy would go on to collaborate on two of Mega’s three solo albums, as well as numerous other projects and live performances. Camouflage is also the debut of Philadelphia MC Priviledge, who would later win acclaim as one-half of the Super Chron Flight Brothers, together with billy woods. In sum, Camouflage represents the seminal moment of the entire Backwoodz Studioz brand, style and aesthetic, a humble beginning for a small but visionary label.
This re-release has been a long time coming, and it will also mark the first time that Camouflage has been released digitally at all…almost six years later. We at Backwoodz felt the time was right to make the album that started us off available, both in limited edition deluxe copies and through digital distribution. The record has been painstakingly re-mastered, as well as reconstituted with some rare tracks replacing some of the freestyles that had to be removed. Please note that ALL of the material on the album is still from the Camouflage sessions at the now defunct Alamo studios, and there have been no re-recordings. All the artists involved feel that this re-release reflects, perhaps better than the first pressing, the original intent of this album. This record is immensely important to this label, our original artists and our fans, so we tried to do it justice. We hope you enjoy…and of course, smoke ‘em if you got ‘em.