Review Summary: Cam's genius lines and expert beat-selection make for an enthralling listen
I’ve been waiting a while to write this review; for the longest time, I just couldn’t figure out the right way to introduce Cam’ron. Really, there isn’t a right way. He’s definitely one of the most bizarre rappers I’ve ever heard, not in the way that Busdriver or Aesop Rock could be called bizarre, but in his own unique way, both on and off the mic. This is a grown man who wears hot pink sweatsuits and bought a hot pink Range Rover, and claims to have created the fashion trend of pink. Even better, following the release of this album, he ditched pink (he even auctioned the car off on eBay), declaring his intentions of releasing a purple liqueur (which he did) and working with scientists to patent a new color (which he didn’t).
Cam is pretty weird.
But let’s get to the music already. Cam’ron’s style is basically a controlled aggression, so that he always seems to sound like he’s bored when he’s rapping but if you mess with him he’ll kill you. He likes to fill up lines with as many rhyming syllables as possible, and has the odd tendency of saying words twice as if to emphasize them:
And I’m loci loci / Leave you pokey-pokey / No Rice-a-roni / That’s the okey-dokey
Sell the information for a dime o’ white, that China China / I’m behind the diner, selling marijuana to a minor minor / Elder fella, lookin for that shine, I’ll shine ya
A subtle touch present on every Cam’ron and Dipset album that I’ve ever heard is Cam’s voiceovers. After about every other line, you can hear Cam’s voice in the background, providing commentary and responding to the lines. The first time I heard him I didn’t notice it or make anything of it, but repeated listens will have you laughing out loud at his genius. Take the line from Take ‘em to Church, a diss track on Ma$e (former affiliate of Big L and Killa Cam turned preacher). The “commentary” is in parentheses.
Not a diss, dogg (NOPE!) / We just heard the frontin’ (heard it!) / Do Harlem a favor (what?) get a church or something (or SOMETHING!) / A rec center in the winter where the youth can play / They don’t even shoot the jay / sell drugs, shoot and spray (Damn!) / I’m no better (nope!), still move a deuce a day / That’s two keys, I still move the yay (Gotta eat!)
I could spend all day quoting my favorite lines, but for now, I’ll just leave you with one hilarious metaphor from the song “Down and Out”, where Cam’ron compares all the fur in his closet to a pet cemetery.
Cop me Air 1s, hon, lime and red / You got pets? Me too. Mines are dead, doggy / Fox, minks, gators, that’s necessary / accessories, my closet’s pet cemetery / I get approached by animal activists / I live in a zoo, I run scandals with savages
I don’t think Cam has any person on his level as a rapper, but the one rapper similar to his laid-back, zany style is MF Doom, a rapper I’m sure is familiar to many readers. For those unsure about this comparison, just picture in your head MF Doom rapping the lines “*** it, bucket by Osh Kosh B’gosh / Golly I’m gully! Look at his galoshes / Gucci, gold, platinum plaque collages” (from a track off Diplomatic Immunity 1).
Of course, Cam’s rhymes are only one part of the equation. The production on this album is absolutely stellar, leading even those with no love for Cam to praise the album for its beats alone. Kanye produces two beats on here (Down and Out and Dipset Forever), and famed Dipset producers Heatmakerz handle two as well (More Gangsta Music and Killa Cam). Continuing Cam’s penchant for bizarre samples (the first Diplomatic Immunity album featured more than one track utilizing 80’s hair metal), ‘Girls’ samples Cindy Lauper’s hit ‘Girls Just Wanna Have Fun’ and ‘Get ‘em Girls’ interpolates the music from Carmina Burana. There’s not a single track on this album that I can’t bob my head to.
All in all, Cam's infectious personality makes this album a personal classic. Listening to this album made me fall in love with him and the Dipset, and I heavily recommend this to fans of real hip hop.