by Taylor Johnson
“The Neo Age Showcase” brought forth a soulful show at D.C.’s Howard Theatre last week. Hosted by Suite Life Radio’s Dez the Prez and comedian Rob Gordon, the showcase presented the next generation of local R&B and Soul artists in addition to exposing audiences to amazing talent.
The show featured a sing-off contest, called “One Minute Mic” that allowed four contestants from Instagram to show off their singing skills. Still, the main event focused on four phenomenal artists, such as Shamain, BOOMscat, Reesa Renee, and Aaron Camper.
Camper, a native of Salisbury, Maryland, is a Grammy-nominated singer and songwriter, who has shared the stage with Justin Timberlake and Chris Brown. Camper gave a high-energy performance that kept the audience on their feet. His set included his song, “Quicksand,” which transformed into a very smooth and soulful rendition of Michael Jackson’s, “I Can’t Help It.” He also gave the crowd the opportunity to hear his latest single, “Hypnotizing,” which received an extremely positive reaction from the crowd.
DC Fab! sat down with Camper, before his performance, to talk music and his views on the D.C. music scene:
You’ve mentioned that one of your favorite moments on tour [with Justin Timberlake] was at Stade de France and performing in front of 80,000 people. What was that like?
AC: I’ve never seen that many people before. I was kind of scared to be outside of a stadium with that many people because you’ve got to get moved through all of the people. [He’]s the new Elvis [Presley]. That’s what I could equate it to. That was something I would never forget.
What’s the hard part of being on tour?
The hard part is the lobby call the next morning. You leave the club at 3:00 a.m. and the lobby call is at 6 a.m. With that two or three hour sleep period, you may get left in Paris. That’s always the hard part. And, of course, being away from your family and loves ones for a long period of time. Other than that, there’s nothing hard about it, especially if you love it. I enjoy music so I don’t mind it as much.
What’s the difference between being on tour with Justin Timberlake versus Chris Brown?
We have fun on the Justin tour, but with Chris we have a lot of fun. He’s like a brother of mine. We play ball in every city we go to. Whatever we do, whether it’s going to the club, going shopping or we’re running around and being random, we both share that energy. We just like to kick it and do what homies do when we’re on the road. I have a lot more fun out there with Chris. Way less rules.
Did you feel that your Grammy nomination in 2008 was your “I made it” moment?
I really didn’t know what was happening. It was for a gospel project that I was a part of. I didn’t know what I was supposed to get. I didn’t know if it was an award attached to this. I didn’t know do I tell my mom and them, do they get tickets, you kind of don’t know. But when it happens you take it for what it is and right after that, probably the next day, I’m like how do I get another one with my name on it.
Recently you received a wonderful Twitter shout-out from Jill Scott. How important is it to have support from those who’ve come before you?
These days it means everything because with the way R&B is now, everybody gets involved in some kind of sidebar way. She tweeted me the day that “Hypnotizing” came out. I’ve also done some work on the first single she put out, “Fool’s Gold”. She said, “He’s a true trooper in the studio and on stage,” so that means a lot. For somebody to step down off of their platform that encourages me. That gives me a little bit more. For her to acknowledge that means a lot.
“Hypnotizing” is very sultry and very sexy. Is it about a particular person?
Absolutely. It’s about a lot of people. There aren’t a lot of people getting married now and having families, so we all run into a lot of these situations where you run into this one person where you hit and miss, but have this one connection. That’s been the story of my life for the last five or six years. It’s one of those songs. It is about a lot of people, but that’s music.
With the single, does that mean you have an album coming?
Yes. I’m trying to be really strategic about it because I have a lot of music that I want to put out, but I can’t go flooding everybody with it. …I only have one body of music floating online that you can check for and that’s dated at this point. So, I’ve got a lot to share.
What can listeners expect? What does your music sound like?
It’s where I’m at now. That’s it. What you felt like five years ago, you don’t feel like that today. What I put out in 2011 was an exact time stamp of what was going on and how I felt. R&B has taken a twist. I’ve taken a twist. It’s exactly what’s on my mind and what’s going on and how I feel right now.
What is your view on the DMV music scene? Do you feel that we’re getting the recognition that we deserve with the talent that we have here?
No. There’s no more regional music. This dude named D.R.A.M. out of Virginia with the “Cha Cha” record, I love that song. Give him some more. Give him a little bit more than what he’ll get…just give us that same two minutes you would give Ty Dolla Sign on a TV.show so we can get it off. People like it, but they don’t know what we look like because we don’t have any formats. So for the DMV, we need that light.
Camper’s latest single “Hypnotizing” and his other work can be found on iTunes, Spotify and Tidal. In case you missed his performance at the Neo Age Showcase, he will be returning to Howard Theatre on September 10 along with Black Alley and Devon Beck for the Briclyn Entertainment “Back 2 School” concert.