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FEATURE: Cam’ron, Here I Am 2.0

[Editor’s Note: These are the outtakes to the edited interview that appears in the April 2009 issue of XXL.] So before starting press for this album, what was the last public appearnce you made?

Cam’ron: I was at a Lil Wayne concert ’bout three nights ago in Ohio. Lil Wayne, T-Pain, Keyshia Cole, Gym Class Heroes. I was up there last time.

XXL: Backstage? Watching the show?

Cam: Backstage just chillin’ out, watching the show with Lil Wayne. Because I was in Ohio, so I was over there checking them out being that he was in my town or whatever.

XXL: You’ve always had a connection to Ohio…business there, right?

Cam: Yeah, I had a couple clubs out there. I do a lot of First Of The Month parties out in Cincinnati, then I had bought my own club out in Columbus, Ohio. It’s very lucrative out there, so I went out there to take advantage of the situation.

XXL: So what’s your label status? There have been a lot of rumors of you going to different labels.

Cam: Yeah, that’s what I’m trying say. There’s a rumor that I’m signing back with Roc-A-Fella, like some of this stuff is out of control. My situation is I’m signed to Asylum and I owe Koch a Diplomat album. And I have a Killa Season 2 movie and soundtrack, which I don’t know exactly if that’s gonna be on Koch or Asylum, right now, we’re negotiating with both of them now. But me as an artist, I’m signed to Asylum, I never was going to SRC or whatever labels there was rumors about. That’s that, that’s the end of the story.

XXL: Do you think fans are too nosy, nothing’s ever enough?

Cam: Definitely. I would say that a million percent. But sometimes the fans just can’t get what they want.

XXL: When you say that you’re going to work on a Diplomats album is that with everybody? Or is that just you? Is that Diplomatic Immunity?

Cam: Nah, what happens is when I give Koch an album regardless I know Alan Grunblatt is gonna throw Diplomats on it whether it’s me and you on a song or me and my man Tito up here driving. He’s gonna put Diplomats on it regardless. So therefore that’s why I said that I owed him a Diplomat album.

XXL: You’ve said everyone owns a percent the Diplomats but you own the biggest percent. Have you made it a priority to try and own a lot of things along the way?

Cam: When I got to try to get, I can’t get because somebody in Nebraska owns it and he wants to charge me $150,000 for my own name on the website. I try to go get, or just different stuff where I feel it’s my name and somebody else owns it before. If you look at all our credits in our albums, it says Diplomatic Man and it doesn’t say Diplomats because when we was yelling out “Diplomats, Diplomats, Diplomats, Dipset” somebody from Canada owned that. And we couldn’t even use the Diplomat name. A lot of times people don’t even know, if you look in the credits of all the old albums, it says Diplomatic Man because we couldn’t own Diplomats. We were saying it but we couldn’t own it. But then their copyright ran out and I grabbed it. As soon as their copyright ran out, I had the date marked down and I made sure my accountant was on it so we could own it. But we was running around for two years saying “Diplomats,” “Dipset” and legally we couldn’t even use it. After we got the Diplomats brand, that’s when I started getting hats made and shirts made and so on and so forth.

XXL: How often do you stay in touch with Grunblatt?

Cam: We speak two, three times a week. That’s my man at the end of the day. Alan offered me an A&R job two and a half years at Koch. I turned it down, I’m not going to work everyday, sittin’ in meetings, marketing meetings. I’m not doing that.

XXL: Does Jim’s new position at Koch make him your boss at all?

Cam: What’s his position?

XXL: There was recently news that Jim has a new big A&R position at Koch.

Cam: No, at the end of the day Jim is not my boss over there because all I have to do over there is turn in my album. And that’s that. I don’t have to have a meeting; I don’t have to talk to nobody. I turn my album in and I get my money and I’m out. I only owe them one album. And I never had an A&R and that’s not disrespecting Jim or nobody else. I don’t do A&R because I already have my own vision.

XXL: Then you also gotta care about other people’s projects, right?

Cam: Exactly. That’s what I’m saying, and a lot of times I got a good ear but I’m just not with going into the office everyday and sitting there doing that. I could do that with my own artists and sell my own distribution company.

XXL: What happened with the Tru Life incident? What is true that he punched you in your eye or something? What happened there? ’Cause the timing coincided with all the other stuff…

Cam: Basically everything kinda happened back to back to back. With him what happened was he was with a few people, I was by myself, about three or four of them, they had the drop on me. They swung, nobody touched my face, nobody decked me, nobody did nothing like that. Ever. But they definitely had the drop on me. I was downtown by myself. It was about four or five of them. But nobody got punched in the face, no punches was thrown. They was right, they had they little things on them, they was right. I wasn’t and that was the end of it.

XXL: Do you find yourself protecting yourself a lot more because of that and because of when you were shot?

Cam: Yeah.

XXL: So do you live a different life because of that?

Cam: Different life? Nah, you gotta realize this is like the drug game. If you don’t wanna be prepared for everything that come, get out the game. Go be working. Go be a librarian. Know what I’m saying? That’s like somebody that play football and get hit and then be like, “Why’d he hit me so hard?” This is part of the game. I knew this coming in. And at the end of the day, this is sweet. I think music is way sweeter than what I was doing way before this, so hell no, I don’t protect myself. I was protecting myself when I was living on 140th and Lenox, in the tenement everyday with mice running across my feet. Waking up with roaches in my pajamas. That’s way worse than anything that be going on in that music business.

XXL: What do you think of the music business right now anyway?

Cam: I think music is great. A lot of people are like, “Ahhh, the Internet,” this, that and the third, but if you promote and market yourself right then you’ll do good. Great example of that is Lil Wayne who sold a million records in a week last year.

XXL: When they said it was impossible to sell a million records in a week.

Cam: Exactly. You got Kanye who just put out an album majority singing and sold 450,000 albums. You got T.I. that sold 550,000 copies. Even when Kanye and 50 Cent came up, pardon me, Curtis came up, they sold 800,000 and 900,000. It’s great. It’s great. It’s all about marketing and doing your stuff right. People come out and don’t do the sales they supposed to do or they think they supposed to do and it’s like, “Ahhh, the Internet is messed up and…” Nah, it’s about marketing and promoting right and it’s about if people really want you.

XXL: But if your shit’s good, there’s no denying it.

Cam: Exactly. That’s the moral of the story.

XXL: The Internet is a great tool if you can figure out the right way to use it.

Cam: Exactly. If you sit there and put your whole album on the Internet and nothing else and then it doesn’t come out for six months, then yeah, you’re going to get robbed and pillaged and it’s not going to be a great look. But if you sit there and do the little DVDs and promote and the video clips and blogs and let people know what’s going on it’ll be a great tool to market.

XXL: Are you surprised at all by Jim’s musical success?

Cam: I mean that’s another thing that people ask me like, Yo… People say, “Jim and them is doing this and…” I fought for them to get deals. I’m the one who told people that these kids was gon’ be stars, you understand what I’m saying? Def Jam didn’t wanna sign Jim or Juelz. I had to go in there and prove a point. Without them Diplomat mixtapes and keep beating people over the head, no homo, with songs…

XXL: And then there was “Hey Ma” and “Oh Boy,” that whole run there that was really big for you guys, it really set you up.

Cam: You can ask Dame Dash, when I used to tell them, “Yo, Jim is gon’ rap,” they used to be laughing. They used to think I was joking. But I was like, “Nah, you gon’ see,” ’cause at that time… not like laughing at Jim in a bad way, but like, “Come on, Jim’s not gonna rap.” I was like, “Watch. I’m telling you.” I used to tell Dame that all the time when we was at Roc-A-Fella but nobody kind of like took me serious. But I already seen it.

XXL: If you were an editor at XXL, who would you wanna read about right now?

Cam: If I was an editor at XXL, the only person I’d wanna read about is myself because I’m the most interesting thing out there besides the flyest, handsomest, best rapper that you’ll ever meet. Who else would you wanna read about?-Vanessa Satten

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