by Gavin Mead ’15 and C. F. Collison ’15
Although we’ve been privy to the fact that Cam’ron will be performing at the Horn Gallery this Saturday for quite some time, it still hasn’t sunk in yet. Whether you know him as Cam, Killa, Flea, or Cameron Giles, when you sit back and really think about it, isn’t Purple Haze your favorite rap album ever? To think that Cam will be performing an intimate show on our own college campus doesn’t even seem real. What have any of us done to deserve this pure gift?
We’ve always admired Cam for his natural disposition towards technically skilled and humor-focused raps, a tradition he’s passed down to recent luminaries of the genre such as Lil Wayne, Das Racist, and Lil B. But it’s not like Cam was the first to make rap funny – it would be a disservice to the history of the craft to make such a claim. What can certainly be said is that Cam was the first to have a style that sounds completely effortless yet ridiculously flamboyant. The seed of both insanely goofy rap and unabashed opulence / self-aggrandizing grew in the fecund soil of Cam’ron’s albums such as Come Home With Me, Purple Haze, and the Diplomatic Immunity series with his group The Diplomats.
We’ve selected some of our favorite Cam tracks and written about them below. While most folks know the seminal classics like Hey Ma, Oh Boy, and Down And Out, we wanted to highlight some other selections from his work that may have slipped under people’s radars.
Cam’ron – Get ‘Em Girls
Every single song on Purple Haze is a classic (even the Mizzle skits are still funny!), but the penultimate track encapsulates the ethic Cam’ron works with across the entire album – ridiculous rhymes that are delivered with such venom and self-seriousness that they become delightfully campy, such as “whips on my fists, houses on my wrists, your budget on my neck, your spouse on my dick”. If you need more evidence, just listen to the end to the second verse – it’s teetering on the edge of baby talk.
Cam’ron – Harlem Streets
It’s not all baby talk, however. Cam’ron shows off the apex of his technique on “Harlem Streets”, another Purple Haze cut. What could have just been a by the numbers dope-boy ballad turns into a rigorous linguistic workout. Cam shows off his signature playfulness when it comes to words with slight difference – “Madonna momma, body bottled, you’re fine, I’m finer”.
Cam’ron ft. Tiffany – Daydreaming
Off of Cam’s breakout album Come Home With Me, here’s a track that definitely shows off his sensitive side. This duet with Tiffany shows Cam’ron reconciling his hustler’s lifestyle with his romantic side, acknowledging his flaws but asking her to let him eat his cake and sell cakes too.
Cam’ron – (I Used To) Get In Ohio
There’s no way we’re leaving this one out – this is Flea’s love letter to his Midwest drug days, especially moving weight in our very own Ohio. Featuring a searing beat from MPC virtuoso Araabmuzik. “Keep playing, you will look like a gyro!!”
Dipset – Dipset Anthem / I Really Mean It
There’s no way to talk about Cam’ron without also talking about his Diplomats crew, who in this video can be seen in all their glory, absolutely running NYC. These are two of the best tracks off of Diplomatic Immunity, a seminal example of how you do a posse album. Dipset’s influence (along with their producers Heatmakerz and Just Blaze) can be felt from Young Money in New Orleans to grime crews like Ruff Sqwad in East London. If anyone knows where we can get that pink bandana jacket Cam’s got on – let us know. WHAT’S REALLY GOOD?!
Cam’ron ft. 2 Chainz – Snapped
Yes, Cam’s heyday has passed, and Dipset’s dynasty might be over for good, but that doesn’t mean that he hasn’t found a new, if limited, niche in the rap world. He’s still acting hilariously disdainful while also playing a new role – the elder. “Snapped” finds Killa flowing easy and dropping nuggets of unorthodox wisdom and relationship device that can also be found on his legendary Instagram account.
BONUS: Dipset – Dipset Freestyle
Look at him. He’s not even looking at the goddamn camera, he’s just counting his cash and going for it. This is essentially Cam’ron in a nutshell: flashy, cocky, unenthused, and making incredible lyrics sound like they appear out of thin air. God bless Cameron Giles.