FEATURE: Cam’Ron, Here I Am

PHOTOGRAPHY BEN BAKER

PHOTOGRAPHY BEN BAKER

Where is he? What’s he doing? What’s with that kiddie-size pool? Mystery has dominated the past two years in the career of Harlem MC Cam’ron Giles. The random fan cell-phone shot notwithstanding, since May 2007, one of the flashiest, most flamboyant stars hip-hop has ever known has kept himself uncharacteristically out of the public eye.

But on this January afternoon at Industria Superstudio in Manhattan’s Meatpacking District, the swaggering rapper is hard to miss. In his gleaming diamonds and an electric blue bubble coat, he’s dressed to impress. Today is the first professional photo shoot he’s done in he doesn’t know how long.
Cam, 33, got his start in hip-hop as a member—along with fellow future luminaries Ma$e and Big L—of the Uptown outfit Children of the Corn in the mid-’90s. He signed a solo deal with Sony/Epic in 1997 and started a rap crew, the Diplomats, with his closest childhood friend, Jim Jones, their man Freekey Zekey and the teenage Juelz Santana. After two moderately successful solo albums, an unhappy Cam escaped to Roc-A-Fella Records—the Def Jam subsidiary co-founded by his old Children of the Corn manager, Dame Dash. In 2002, Cam ascended to official rap stardom with the Come Home With Me album, which sold over a million copies and introduced the rest of his squad to hip-hop heads everywhere.

Over the next few years, the Diplomats would drop two official group albums (one on Def Jam, one through the independent Koch Records) and a slew of mixtapes, amassing an army of second-tier members and affiliates and firmly establishing themselves as a major hip-hop crew. After Dame split from partner Jay-Z in 2004, Cam and the Diplomats brand left Roc-A-Fella—Cam signing solo with Asylum/Warner. Juelz, though, who was signed to Def Jam through Diplomats, stayed put, releasing his own million-selling breakout album, What the Game’s Been Missing!, the following year.

In 2006, rumors began to swirl that things weren’t kosher between Dipset’s two dominant personalities. Jim had been the yin to Cam’s yang, the best friend, handling biz behind the scenes for years. But with Jim focusing on his own rap career—gearing up to release a third solo album on Koch—the two, once inseparable, were rarely seen together. Cam appeared in the video for Jim’s smash single “We Fly High” late in the year, but talk persisted.

In February 2007, Cam got into a heated on-air discussion with 50 Cent about Koch Records and the comparative sales success of Jim’s hit Hustler’s P.O.M.E. and recent releases from 50’s G-Unit Records. During the resulting Internet beef, while Cam and 50 traded diss songs and videos, Jim and Juelz remained conspicuously on the sidelines. In May, Cam posted a Web video of himself standing next to a small pool with palm trees in the background, warning 50 and fans that it was going to be a “hot summer.”

But Cam disappeared after that. And over the next few months, Jim began to publicly acknowledge the rift within Dipset. Jim went so far as to appear on BET with 50, and he and Juelz joined G-Unit onstage at New York’s Hammerstein Ballroom. Remaining out of sight—and silent, save the sporadic rap track leaked online, a mixtape, Public Enemy #1 and a DVD video trailer, “Here’s Cam’ron (You Little Yentas)”—Cam left the industry, fans and friends guessing as to his whereabouts.

This leaves Dipset under the auspices of Jim, who has become the team’s sole leader and biggest star—scoring a 50-50 solo deal with Sony’s venerable Columbia Records. Lately, in fact, Dame has gotten heavy into the Jim Jones business, working closely on projects like an Off Broadway play and a documentary, This Is Jim Jones, about the rapper’s life.

In last month’s XXL, the cover story featured interviews with Diplomats Jim, Juelz and Zeke discussing the status of the crew. Zeke seemed caught in the middle and insisted Cam would come back to the fold. And while Jim took pains to take his share of the blame for the breakup, both he and Juelz alleged that Cam had been less than fair with Dipset proceeds. And Juelz, who’d been strangely quiet himself since What the Game’s Been Missing!, claimed Cam had essentially frozen his career—blocking him from releasing collaborative material with other artists—through the original Diplomats contract Cam held and only this past summer sold to Def Jam for a reported $2 million.

Today, the enigmatic Dipset founder, gearing up to drop his new solo album Crime Pays this April, is here to give his side of the story. As he puffs on a Black & Mild in the backseat of his boy’s Jeep, heading home to New Jersey for the evening, Cam’ron wants to clear the air.

XXL: So where have you been?

Cam’ron: I’ve been chillin’. My mom had had three back-to-back strokes. She’s doing much better. She’s still, like, 50 percent paralyzed on her left side of her body, little speech impediment. But she’s healthy, she’s alive, she’s walking, driving. But she had three strokes, so I took her to Florida, to a specialist. Then to a rehabilitation center for nine months so she could start walking and get her speech back and everything.

XXL: So that’s a huge piece that explains your being M.I.A. for so long, right?

Cam: What happened was, family always comes first. But then I started hearing that “Cam’ron is missing.” “Cam’ron is hiding.” And it’s like, Who am I hiding from? Missing? Like, What?! I just started using it to my advantage. But it wasn’t like I was “hiding” or “missing.” If you was in Florida, you probably seen me.

XXL: What happened with the “Hot Summer” video? That confused a lot of people. You said, “It’s gonna be a hot summer,” by the swimming pool and all that, and then it was never a hot summer. We didn’t hear anything more.

Cam: That’s when my mother got sick, actually. June 2007. So what happened was, that pool that you seen me in, that was the house that I had got for my mother for that whole year. When I did that video, I had just got to Florida, maybe about two weeks [before]. I had shot that little video. You know me, I didn’t sit there and let people be… I’m one of those people, if you say something about me, I get on you like yesterday. But you gotta realize, my mother don’t have any other family but me. So when I go down to Florida, it isn’t like I can go to the studio. It isn’t like I can leave her in the crib for 10 hours, 12 hours. So my moms was sick. I was with her for nine months straight, 24 hours a day, unless I may have went out to get something to eat for an hour or two.

XXL: That was around the time—it seemed like you sorta went underground after the incident with 50. When you got on the phone with 50 on Hot 97.

Cam: Yeah, you could say that.

XXL: What was the purpose of that? To defend Koch or to defend Jim Jones and the Diplomats?

Cam: I mean, at the end of the day, I was kind of defending, in my opinion, Jim and Diplomats. Because he was basically saying that he could shut down any project on Koch at the particular time. And it was, like, nobody major—I’m not sure if Khaled was even up there. No disrespect to Khaled, no disrespect to Styles or nobody like that—but nobody was checking for Koch before we went over there. So I kinda think it was taking a shot at Jim or the Diplomats. Either way, that was family, and that was the label. So that’s how I kinda took offense to it.

XXL: Did you expect the beef to unfold the way that it did?

Cam: I don’t expect nothing. I go with the momentum. I don’t sit there waiting to expect what’s going to happen. If somebody says something, I react. If I do something and wait for them to react, I’m going to react again. I don’t really sit there and expect or analyze what’s gonna happen. But I’m prepared for anything.
What’s the status of the situation now? If you and 50 walked into the same room, is there beef, or is it done?
50 can kiss my ass. That’s the basic moral of the story. I’m not one of them people, once we beefin’, I’ma be like, “Yo, I wish it didn’t happen.” It is what it is.

XXL: After the Hot 97 call, Dipset didn’t jump to your defense. Then Jim actually started making public appearances with 50. This seemed to expose a rift between you two.

Cam: What people gotta realize is that, like, Jim’d been doing his own thing. It may seem… We may come to one person video or the other person video, but we’d kinda been not hanging out anyway. But whatever is going on behind the scenes don’t always have to be public. So if somebody was trying to diss him in public, I took offense to that, because that was my brother. But, yeah, we’d kinda been shied away from each other behind the scenes anyway.

XXL: How come?

Cam: Well, I don’t know his reason, or what he thinks, but one time Jim was in my house, and we was plotting and strategizing on our marketing and promotions. And out of the blue he asks me, “You wanna have a fake beef? Between me and you.” And I was like, “Hell no!” That didn’t even make sense. I was like, “Why would we do that? That would confuse the fans.” And he was like, “Oh okay.” But for me, I took that as, you must wanna go your own route anyway, because why would you even make that suggestion? So when he made that suggestion, it wasn’t like beef or no problems, but I kinda shied away and started letting him do his own thing. Because I felt, why would you even say that if you didn’t wanna go and do your own thing?

XXL: What did you think of the Diplomats story we did last month?

Cam: I didn’t get a chance to read it yet.

XXL: The basic premise behind it is that the three guys miss you,
they say you’re doing your own thing, but, at least to some degree, they feel fucked over by you. Is that fair, or do you disagree with that?

Cam: I would say I disagree. Because, at the end of the day, I’m not focused—I don’t understand how people are still focused on this stuff. This been like two, three years you haven’t really seen us together. Or haven’t heard us on the same record. So I’m kinda, like, past how people are feeling or what’s going on.

XXL: People were so used to the core four of you together through the years, the movement. Not seeing you together just doesn’t seem right. Is that understandable to you?

Cam: It’s like, if you’re a Williams, you a Williams. That’s like Diplomats—once you a Diplomat, you a Diplomat. All four of us are Diplomats. But, at the end of the day, James and Florida had to break up. You know what I’m saying? Everything don’t last forever.-Vanessa Satten

For more of the Here I Am Interview make sure to pick up XXL’s April issue on newsstands now.

  • stobo646

    lol first always wanted to say that anyway waitin for that crime pays album

  • stacks856

    cam dat nigga i hope he smash 50 again

    • Screwmatic

      No Doubt

  • moresickaMC

    XXL. Just wanna say youve done a good job with these interviews. Theyve been interesting

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  • http://myspace.com/NUYCEKAVE H.A.R.L.E.M. (NUYCEKAVE)

    good lookin KILLA
    bring dat vide back homie
    PEACE

    holla 4 beats
    myspace.com/NUYCEKAVE

  • http://www.myspace.com/sniperskaos Kaos

    Big, interview. Good to see he’s back.
    If only his music could be on COTC levels.

  • Rex Banner

    lol jimmy wanted to do a fake beef as a publicity stunt haha

  • Prince

    lmaoooooooo fake beef lmao he belongs with gunit infact bird gang is full of birds anyway lol

  • VON

    THat nigga camron so fine he can get it anytime Im the type of dude that like men ya heard

    • http://xxl ryan

      wow dats all i got 2 say bout dat. but finally cam is back. i got tired of hearin all of these so called drug dealers n gangsters rap(rick ross n wayne).

    • amar

      HAHAHAHHA

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  • http://www.nahright.com sean coonery

    50 Cent will beat down cam’ron like tru life punched Cam in the face…

  • http://xxl Goose

    If yall rappers were smart yall would invest in agriculture…people gotta eat!!!

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  • Mutada al sader the king

    Fake beef??? Not that I had any repect for that bum, but Jim Jones is dead in my eyes. I anticipate a major 128k first week flop for jones new record.

  • Dip Appeal

    its sad to see em like this. Part of their appeal was their loyalty to one another, bye ay shit happens

  • yoprince

    ^^128k first week wouldn’t be a flop really

    but yea.. that fake beef idea was lame.. and i’m waiting for that Crime Pays, def not that bullshit jimmy shit

  • dark vanilla

    A fake beef? Wow! Jim Jones is trash. Just for him saying this I’m copping Cam’s album (wasn’t gonna get Jones anyways since he was the worst artist on Dipset).

  • Screwmatic

    Cam’ron always been real to his niggas, but niggas ain’t kept it real my him, man.
    Cam ain’t no punk he got love for his friends.

  • TheGreat2380

    Cam is a real ass dude, money is funny, and so far from this interview, if jimmy said tht shit,if you look @ his motives in the game right now, then you rep what you sew, but at the end of the day they coming back together after “Crime Pays” blow up and its back to business

    DIPSET ALL DAY EVERYDAY!!! HOLLA @ UR BOY,

  • that nigga

    Now everything comes to light. How can you not believe what Cam is sayin? Look at Jims shady movements! A fake beef? Wow how original Jenny Jones.

  • LOSTANGEL

    Jim is a punk 4real, cam runs dipset & murked 50 in the beef funeral music was wack curtisssss was good. killa do ur thing

  • http://xxlmag jb

    Fake beef? what kind of shit is that?!! Jones is a clown for that one. They criticized Rocafella but broke up the same way. Ain’t that sum shit? You know what they say: You don’t know who your true friends are til u both get money.
    http://www.myspace.com/lidujay

  • k.ing

    Please….

    this dude is a fraud…

    raps are wack… and he ran in harlem when jim was getting stomped out… so who is disloyal…

    and yayo would beat his azz let alone 50…… nicca’s cheer for anybody this nigga been wack and only had a hit under the Roc…

  • dark vanilla

    ^^^Yayo’s never been in a fight in his life (except with lil kids). Go kill yoursel. I’m so sick of you fucking G-Unit bitches who don’t know shit bout hip hop and ride 50s dick to the fullest. You are a disgrace to this world and fucking sick of it. G-Unit fans (and I’m talking bout the dumbass dickrydahs)=Biggest faggots of all time

  • k.ing

    @ dark vanilla

    bitch nicca please how would you know that….

    listen wigga (by your name) lets catch a fair one or shut yo weak ass up…

    nigga punked jimmy henchman at the justo awards… but you a clown ass nigga so we don’t have to prove shit to yo weak azz… what is hiphop bitch???? yo wigga azz don’t even know that rap is only one of four forms of hiphop…

    cam is a bitch nigga and a dry snitch… putting julez buisness out there… fuck this faggot and fuck u… dark vanilla = wigga!!! ask bang em smurf a nigga that actually know’s marvin….

    bitch nigga getting emotional ” i’m so sick… bitch!!! Los Angeles stand up…

  • Stoh

    ^^^^ @ K.ing

    Your so fucking gay, who the fuck censors himself? “Azz?” hahahaha

    Step your mother fuckin speech game up.

  • dark vanilla

    k.ing, same ignorant G-Unit fuck. Marvin wouldn’t even come down to the yard when Bang em Smurf was locked up with him. He was hiding in UPC. Besides what is your faggot ass gonna do to me you dumb fuck. I’m not even claiming to be a hard gangsta, but your on here screaming G-Unit and LA stand up. I’m saying your a fucking G-Unit, dickryding, fake ass retard, thats hiding behind his stupid computer. Yayo punked Henchman Jr., a 12 year old boy. Way different from punking Henchman himself? By the way, where you from in Los Angeles. Malibu? Cuz no one except rich white boys bang 50 on the west side. And dark vanilla just a name I think is funny, would you rather have a hard fake name like Blood4lyfe or CriptilIdie. I’m not trying to be hard, I trying to listen to real music, but the way G-Unit fans have screwed up hip hop is bugging the fucking shit outta me. No more garbage. Notice how I call you a bitch ass faggot, cuz I know your not black. But its pointless to argue with you, cuz the only way to win is to just kick your ass, and since I’m never gonna see you, its fucking pointless. So peace out dogg.

  • k.ing

    ^^^^^

    6011 arlington ave if you want to shoot a fair one…

    ain’t know white boys in the 60′s….. and you say im not black and i laugh… a grown man bumps whatever the fuck he wants….

    nicca in L.a don’t listen to the same thing…. now if you want to go all out a blog… nigga this sixties!!!!

    and i bet yo nice azz would never come ova here cracker… you ain’t from LA….

    @ dark vanilla…

    lets stop the talking and shoot the fair one… i will come to yo house…

    nigga sound foolish speaking on what we bump in LA… this ain’t where yo lame ass is from where everybody bump the same shit…

    niccas round here bump every thing from 50 to Curtis MAYFILED…

    WE don’t bump that kufi shyt around here bitch!!!

    but like i said lets shoot a fair one and then lets see if you come back on herer talking shit… we throw that shit in you tube….

    fuck you and peace h60d!!! like i said Los Angeles Stand up… crenshaw and slauson/florence stand up…

    • amar

      did u just say he has a nice ass?

      go get shot or jailed, u useless waste of flesh

  • 11KAP

    The pimp is back.

  • dark vanilla

    I need your zip code.

  • dark vanilla

    What’s your zip code k.ing?

  • k.ing

    90047 Los Angeles…

    6011 arlington ave s.los angeles….

    The Fronts….

    come and get tramp treated!!! florence to slauson str8 down arlington…. ave…

  • dark vanilla

    That’s a nice house dogg. I didn’t know you lived in a tree.

  • dark vanilla

    By the way get that stupid spinning G-Unit shit off your myspace.

  • K.ing

    you soft homie….

    and just like the punk you defending if you ever came across me you we go into hiding with a fucin blaç eye….

    you will never come round here white boy….

    you ashamed of your color… we got a few white boyz round here…. come and get put on…

    stic to what you think you know which is your version of hiphop…

    real hiphop has know bounderies it’s not a fad… nigga up the street might want to bump Immortal tecnique, his next door n-h60d might want to bump brotha lynch, the bitch across the street might bump Spider loc, the fat nicca around the corner might love fat joe… niggas still bump pac!!! where do you lame ass niccas live where everybody listen’s to the same shit??? Oklahoma?

    and fuc a dogg… around here dogg’s get mauled…

    you weirdo!!!

  • k.ing

    LMAO…

    i just peeped what you did…

    LMAO

    Loc… g unit what???

    Yea u a stan homie… what they didn’t sign your hat???

    You mad they kick your brothers game or buck out???

    anyway homie stop googling Grown man’s houses and lets Thunder!!!

    you claim you from LA… nigga throw a address out there!!! aside from that homie keep rollin… nicca i don’t talk to tramps!!!

    Coward wigga…

  • dark vanilla

    One, never claimed I was from LA. I have relatives and close friends from LA, but I don’t live there, I’m not even from Cali. If you really wanna know where I live its Portland. 2, I am white, but I’m also black, which means I’m mixed dumbass hence the name Dark Vanilla. So I don’t give a shit if you call me white or black cuz I’m both. 3, you’re really a white boy from Colorado, so don’t find some street address in LA claiming you r hard.

  • dark vanilla

    And for last time, I’m not claiming to be a hard ass gangsta. I’m just sick of your bullshit fronting like you are all hard as fuck. I just appreciate rap music and I don’t appreciate faggots like you who come on to blogs and talk shit bout every artist 50 cent has beef with. I don’t even hate the Unit. I don’t like 50 or Yayo, but I still bump Banks.

  • k.ing

    fuck you mutt…

    and like i said you a bitch ass portland wigga… fuck you and portland…

    nigga speaking up on queen’s niggas and you from lame ass portland…

    fuck portland i bet you niggas still say gunot…

    yea i knew you was a bitch h60d!!!

  • dark vanilla

    What’s so bad bout Portland? I mean your from Lafayatte, Colorado and your talking bad bout Portland? You aint even black. At least I’m not hiding who I am. One thing I learned bout life is be real with who you are. Thats why I hate G-Unit fans. They’re all fakes. Pretty white boys trying to act gangsta. I hope everyone sees what type of fans 50 cent has now. Dumbasses with no common sense. 50 cent fans have gotta be the worse hip hop fans out there. And I know there are some black people that do like 50 Cent. The thing about the black people that do like 50 Cent, they don’t hate on artists that 50 Cent has beef with. Some of the black people that I know that like 50 Cent also like Game, Cam’ron, Fat Joe, Jadakiss, Lil Wayne, and Young Buck.

  • black

    ”The thing about the black people that do like 50 Cent, they don’t hate on artists that 50 Cent has beef with. Some of the black people that I know that like 50 Cent also like Game, Cam’ron, Fat Joe, Jadakiss, Lil Wayne, and Young Buck.”

    ^^ ^^

    Real talk

  • mannyd

    You got roasted k.ing. Lafayette Colorado ? Hood hoppin to LA ? Get Fuck Outta here bruh.

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  • Maurice L Dees

    I think cam’ron was right mom comes first here i am was good to read 2009.

  • Wil-i-am

    U swaga is damn cool can i get ur personal contact mine is wil tel +2540729552534 kenya u tha gangstar