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  • Word Up!

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About Cameo

The ever-evolving funk group Cameo scored horn-powered R&B hits in the ’70s before paring down their lineup and achieving breakthrough pop success with the mid-’80s synth-funk jams “Word Up!” and “Candy.” • Group founder Larry Blackmon grew up in Harlem and attended the prestigious Juilliard School. • In 1974, Blackmon assembled a 14-member group known as The New York City Players. They signed to Casablanca Records’ Chocolate City imprint and changed their name to Cameo in 1976. • Cameo’s 1977 debut album, Cardiac Arrest, yielded a pair of funky Top 40 R&B hits: “Rigor Mortis” and “Funk Funk.” • In 1982, after a string of R&B hits but little crossover pop success, Blackmon reduced the group’s size from 10 to five and relocated to Atlanta to start his Atlanta Artists record label. • Cameo released six albums under Atlanta Artists, including 1986’s platinum-selling Word Up! That album features “Word Up!” and “Candy,” both of which reached No. 1 on Billboard’s R&B charts and became pop hits. The latter—a Top 10 pop hit—has been sampled by artists like 2Pac, Will Smith, Mariah Carey, and The Black Eyed Peas. • The band continued releasing albums through 2000’s Sexy Sweet Thing, their 17th full-length. • Bassist Aaron Mills has worked with OutKast on singles like 2000’s “Ms. Jackson” and 2003’s “Hey Ya!,” while former vocalist John Kellogg became an entertainment lawyer who represented The O’Jays and the late Gerald Levert. • In 2019, Cameo released “El Passo,” their first single in 19 years.

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