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Why am I workin’ here
It ain’t workin’ here, it ain’t worth it here
I’m never gone persevere
Cam’ron’s “I Hate My Job,” paints the perfect picture of the frustrated everyman, the struggling every woman. As soon as the viral video for “I Hate My Job” leaked, it struck a chord with fans in search of hip-hop they could actually relate to. This is Cam’ron the Realist.
But after being the most elusive rapper on the planet for almost two years, it’s ironic Justice that Harlem’s own Cam — full-length fur coats, diamond flooded, blue Lamborghini Cam— would return to the spotlight with the new theme song for the 2009 state of mind.
“I knew I wanted to speak on the things my people are really going through,” says Cam’ron. “It’s not like they don’t know I can speak on getting fly. But I never lose touch with the streets, and those everyday stories need to be told just like the ones about the hustlers and the gangsters.”
It’s this ability to speak to such different audiences that has kept Cam’ron one of hip-hop’s biggest cult favorites for over 11 years in the game. And on his 6th major release, Crime Pays, Cam’ron gives his fanatic following exactly what they want…unapologetic, gimmick-free street raps. Besides the blue-collar angst of “I Hate My Job,” Cam brings his twisted wit on songs like “Bottom of the P—-y Hole,” and his cinematic street sense on “I Used to Get It In Ohio,” and “Cookin’ Up.” No features and no filler, Crime Pays is Cam’s past and present coming full circle.
Growing up in Harlem, Cameron Giles got his first taste of stardom as a high school basketball star, where he, and a certain teammate named Mason Betha, garnered attention from college scouts. But Cam’s true calling was linguistics not athletics. And at the time, the seeds of a rap dynasty were growing in Harlem that would impact the style and sound of East Coast hip-hop for a decade to come. While Harlem always played a part as the social epicenter for hip hop culture…with legendary nightclubs, 125th street’s marketplace, and more….it was the place were music was played, not made. That is until a new class of hungry young emcees from Uptown started capturing the attention of mixtape djs and hardcore fans….namely the Children of the Corn, featuring Cameron—now Killa Cam, his high school pal Mason—now Murda Mase, the late Big L (who later joined the Diggin’ in the Crates collective), producer Digga, and Cam’s cousin Bloodshed. Children of the Corn’s existence as a group was cut short when member Bloodshed was killed in a car accident, but their legend was already cemented on mixtapes and radio freestyles. Mase dropped the “Murda” and became the new prince of Sean Puffy Comb’s Bad Boy Records…meanwhile Killa Cam waited for his solo shot.
And in a twist of fate, it was The Notorious B.I.G. who met Cam and gave him his blessing right before he was murdered in 1997.
“After Big died, I didn’t know what was gonna happen,” says Cam. “But then they were shooting the video for [the Biggie tribute song] “We’ll Always Love Big Poppa,” right around my way. I saw Big’s business partner Lance Un Rivera and went up to him and said, yo, I’m the kid Biggie told you to sign.” And that cosign from the afterlife was all it took to score Cam’ron his first record deal with Untertainment Records/MCA, and his debut album, Confessions of Fire (1998), which included classic tracks such as “Pull It” (featuring DMX), “Feels Good,” (featuring Usher) and “Horse and Carriage,” (featuring Mase).
In 2000, Cam’ron dropped his sophomore album, titled S.D.E., or Sports, Drugs, and Entertainment. Fans embraced songs such as “What Means the World to You,” “Let Me Know” and “Do It Again,” but Cam’ron also used S.D.E. to introduce his colorful young crew to the world. Cam’ron, along with Jim Jones, Juelz Santana, Freekey Zekey, and others, became known as The Diplomats, aka the Dipset. And with his crew in place, Cam made the transition to a new label home, Roc-a-fella Records. It was on Roc-a-fella that Cam’ron came into his own as a mainstream hip hop star, releasing the platinum-selling album, Come Home With Me (2002), which featured hits such as “Hey Ma” (featuring Juelz Santana), “Welcome to New York City” (featuring Jay-Z and Juelz Santana), and “Oh Boy” (featuring Juelz Santana). Cam’ron later reprised “Oh Boy” for Mariah Carey’s Charmbracelet album. And Cam also branched out into Hollywood, with a critically acclaimed performance in “Paid in Full” (2002), starring alongside Mekhi Phifer and Wood Harris.
Riding on the success of Come Home With Me, Cam’ron helmed the release of his team’s compilation albums, Diplomatic Immunity (2003) and Diplomatic Immunity 2 (2004), as well as his 4th album, Purple Haze, which featured hits like “Shake,” and “Down and Out” (produced by Kanye West). And in 2005, Cam’ron signed to Asylum Records, and came into his own as a multi-talented businessman. He wrote and directed the full-length feature DVD, Killa Season (2005), which instantly became a hood classic, selling over a million copies. The accompanying Killa Season soundtrack, featured hits such as “Wet Wipes,” “Get ‘em Daddy (remix),” and the radio-smash “Touch It or Not,” which featured Lil’ Wayne on the remix.
In addition to his incredible creative material, Cam’ron has always been a lightning rod for hip-hop controversy. Cam has had near-death experiences (i.e. a robbery attempt in 2005 that left him with a bullet wound in the arm). He’s had high-profile rivalries with the likes of Jay-Z, Nas, and 50 cent. And more recently, he’s had rap fans worldwide analyzing and debating the state of Cam’s Dipset crew. But along with the drama, the proud Harlem son has always been one of the game’s most important trendsetters. When Cam started wearing pink, urban clothing lines added it to their collections. When he launched his own liquor brand, Sizzurp, other artists followed suit. When Cam introduced new slang….fans listened and learned.
And now that he’s is back…with a new album Crime Pays, a new movie close to completion, a television sitcom on tap, and new musical protégés at work…the hip hop world is again paying close attention his every move…because there’s never a dull moment in the life of Killa Cam.