Camu Tao

Tero Smith (June 26, 1977 – May 25, 2008[1]), better known by his stage name Camu Tao, was an American rapper and producer who was signed to the Definitive Jux label. He was a member of several groups: S.A. Smash (with Metro), the underground hip hop supergroup The Weathermen, Central Services (with El-P), and the music collective Cardboard City.

Camu Tao
Birth nameTero Smith
Born(1977-06-26)June 26, 1977
OriginColumbus, Ohio, United States
DiedMay 25, 2008(2008-05-25) (aged 30)
GenresHip hop
Occupation(s)Producer, rapper, singer
Years active1997–2008
LabelsDefinitive Jux, Fat Possum Records, Eastern Conference Records, Smash Bros., B.U.K.A. Entertainment
Associated actsS.A. Smash, The Weathermen, MHz Legacy, Central Services, Nighthawks. Couch Boys

He was also part of Columbus, Ohio's MHz crew with Copywrite, RJD2, Jakki da Motamouth and Tage Future.[2] Partnering with Cage to form Nighthawks, the two crafted an album during a single three-day creative session.[3] He was diagnosed with lung cancer in 2006, and died after a two year fight at the age of thirty.

Life and careerEdit

Born Tero Smith, on June 26, 1977, in Columbus, Ohio, United States, Camu Tao made his name as a hip hop producer, rapper, and singer.

Smith died on May 25, 2008, two years after being diagnosed with lung cancer.[1] At the time of his death, he was producing a song for Cage's I Never Knew You EP and working on his first solo for Definitive Jux. On July 9, 2009, El-P announced via Twitter that the album, King of Hearts, was finished, and would be released on October 20, 2009.[4] King of Hearts was released on August 17, 2010 by Definitive Jux in collaboration with Fat Possum Records along with a free download EP from Central Services.[5] About the album, El-P said:

We all expected to get Camu in the studio and go as far as he wanted to go with the record. The songs are bare, but then again a lot of them are just what he wanted. A lot of them wouldn’t have changed much. Knowing Camu, he had a lot of talented musician friends he would have liked to have collaborated and have involved. I do think the album would have been different had he lived to complete it.

Aesop Rock, also on Definitive Jux, stated in a 2008 interview with The A.V. Club that his next album may contain "a couple of songs about my friend Camu [Tao]".[6] In his song, "Racing Stripes," Aesop Rock reflects on Camu Tao near the end of his life. Specifically, Aesop Rock notes Camu Tao's unusual haircut, and the unusual new habits Camu Tao had developed. Camu Tao is also the main subject in Aesop Rock's song "Get Out of the Car" in his 2016 album The Impossible Kid, reflecting on how the death of his friend drove him to an 8 year long state of emotional paralysis and an increasing trend of self-imposed social isolation. In 2017 when the video for this song was released he remarked: "This May 25th marks 9 years since the death of my friend Camu Tao, an event that serves as an emotional and narrative anchor in both this song and my life. I wanted to reflect on things that had changed since, and try to connect some events I hadn't realized were potentially related".[7]

El-P, founder of the defunct Definitive Jux label, dedicated his album Cancer 4 Cure to his memory. Years later, he indirectly speaks about him in his verse in the track "Thursday in the Danger Room" in Run the Jewels 3 by Run the Jewels. El-P has confirmed that the verse was about his experience with Camu while he had cancer in a response to a tweet from a fan on his official Twitter account.[8] It is evident by the lyrics that this experience was extremely emotionally taxing for him.




  • Blair Cosby: Cape Cod (Going for De Gold) (2004)
  • Blair Cosby II: The Wali Era (2005)
  • Blair Cosby: Cereal Carpens (97 Season) (2005)


  • "Hear Me Talking to You" (2001)
  • "Hold the Floor" b/w "Wireless" (2001)
  • "Cop Hell" (2003) (with Cage, as Nighthawks)
  • "WMR" (2004) (with El-P)

Guest appearancesEdit


  1. ^ a b Paine, Jake (2008-05-26). "Rapper Camu Tao Dies From Cancer". HipHopDX. Retrieved 2008-05-26.
  2. ^ Eddy, Lincoln (February 13, 2013). "Resurrecting a MHz Legacy: RJD2 and Tage Future chase inspiration in "Out of Room"". Alarm. Retrieved April 10, 2016.
  3. ^ Morris, David (February 3, 2006). "To Hell and Back: An Interview with Cage". PopMatters. Retrieved April 10, 2016.
  4. ^
  5. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2010-05-28. Retrieved 2010-05-25.CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  6. ^ Wolinsky, David (December 11, 2008). "Aesop Rock". The A.V. Club. Retrieved April 10, 2016.
  7. ^
  8. ^ @therealelp (30 December 2016). ".@BasedMoonshine yes" (Tweet) – via Twitter.

Further readingEdit

External linksEdit