A major player in France's surprising hip-hop and electronica explosion (Air, MC Solaar, Dimitri, Mighty Bop), DJ Cam has released several convincing--if not revolutionary--instrumental collections that marry tough hip-hop beats with often lush jazzy textures and dark atmospheres. I don't know whether he simply grew sick of this formula or decided to try for a piece of America's hip-hop pie, but his most recent album, The Beat Assassinated (Sony Globetrotter), dispenses with it in favor of something disappointingly run-of-the-mill. While other non-American DJs, most notably old-school heads Krush and Honda from Japan, have hired MCs to rap over their instrumental tracks with varying degrees of success, Cam's attempt to do the same falls flat--he's more of a collagist than a beat merchant, and it shows. He dabbles lamely in drum 'n' bass ("Hardcore Freestyle") and techno ("Pressure"), and even his hip-hop stuff sounds overly familiar. For this gig, his Chicago debut, Cam will be joined by compatriot DJ Djam for some four-turntable action, but from what I heard about the pair's recent New York performance I don't expect much in the way of scratching or experimental mixing. Still, Cam knows his records, and if his early work is any indication, his taste in tracks alone should make the evening worthwhile. Friday, 9 PM, Smart Bar, 3730 N. Clark; 773-549-4140. PETER MARGASAK
Art accompanying story in printed newspaper (not available in this archive): uncredited photo.