FEATURE: Cam’ron, Rebirth
Sometimes the only person you really need is yourself. It seems that's something Harlem MC Cam'ron has learned over the past two years since he first went on his hip-hop hiatus. Killa returned in February when he gave his first interview to XXL and appeared on the magazine’s April 2009 cover discussing the breakup of his crew, the New York rap outfit the Diplomats, his beef with old buddies and where he's been while MIA. Since the interview, Cam has been hounded about his crumbling relationship with the Dipset and the possibility of a reunion while also promoting the release of his sixth solo album Crime Pays, which dropped this past Tuesday.
XXLMag.com recently caught up with Killa Cam to talk about his show at New York City’s Highline Ballroom last week (his first in over two years), the new album and why the idea of a Diplomats reunion and making up is just tired right now.
XXLMag.com: How have you felt about the response to your album so far? From radio and from fans?
Cam'ron: I mean, real good, you know? Our initial plan on the roll out of the album was, let’s not worry about the radio, let’s not worry about TV, as long as we get the advertisement going when people know the album is out. I really wasn’t stressing nothing being that the Internet is such a great tool to use right now. But MTV always showed a bunch of love and then always want my videos as longs as they clean and I just appreciate all the love from TV and radio is starting to pick up, everybody is kind of jumping back in Cam mode but initially our whole plan was just to go hard through the Internet and promotion and advertising. Definitely I’m appreciating all the love on the radio and on TV and on the Internet.
XXL: Is having a big first week of sales an important thing to you? Doesn’t really seem like you care that much about that part of things…
Cam: Well, I wouldn’t say I don’t care. But the thing with me is like, you know, not to put people in my business but just so people know and don’t get it confused, after I sell, after my record goes to like 175,000, after it reaches that I get like $4 a record so anything after, over 175, 000, even when it’s finished I make money so I’m pretty cool with that.
XXL: Any desire to beat Jim Jones’s first week sales? Do you wanna have a bigger week than him?
Cam: No, I’m not paying attention to that at all. It’s two different totally situations. Jim’s on a major label, I’m on an independent label so it’s two totally different scenarios but not in competition with them at all.
XXL: Last week you performed in New York City for the first time in two years. A lot of people were wondering what you were gonna do—bring Jim and Juelz Santana out to squash beef or diss them somehow and bring other guests out to make a statement. You wound up not really doing either, just bringing the new Diplomats out. Why didn’t you do anything? How do you feel that fans are even expecting more from you?
Cam: Well, you know, at the end of the day, a lot of people only really came to see me. I know people might have been expecting guests or so on and so forth but I only had an hour to be up there and my show was timed and it was only actually a little bit less than a hour and right now, to be honest, not saying New York ain’t rocking, I love New York but it’s only a few good New York songs out so I would’ve brought out anybody to really…like I said, you know, with Jim and Juelz, they doing they thing, I’m proud of them or whatever but everybody is kind of in their own lane so I definitely wasn’t gonna bring them out and I don’t really got too many otther friends in the music business like that anyway to reach out to.
XXL: This album doesn’t seem as New York sounding as some of your other LPs. Is that something that we hear differently or do you think it’s a conscious effort that you’ve made?
Cam: I still represent New York a million percent. I’m totally 100 percent a New York artist but you know I lived in Chicago for three years; I lived in Ohio for five years. It’s just when you go out and see other things, sometimes you just want to expand on that. You got people from New York who probably never left New York and they think that everything they hear on the radio in New York is all that’s going on. You may get to Houston and hear six or seven people on the radio that you never heard of before in your life and you like, 'Who’s this on the radio?' It’s just a big world and a lot of people just don’t get a chance to see it all but, you know, I’m a person that’s been fortunate enough to travel and see different things and hear different types of music and got a chance to sit around and see it’s nothing more crazy when you go to a club. I just took some of my new artists that I’m working with out to Miami and the number one song in the club was from a artist none of us knows and they like, 'Yo, who’s this? I gotta get on this.' I was like, 'Yeah, now you getting out that zone ’cause you gotta realize it’s seven o’clock everywhere in every state, you know what I’m saying?' There’s Funkmaster Flex’s all over this country.
XXL: We forget because sometimes we are just so New York centric...
Cam: Yeah, well, you know what it is, too. New York people just got the mentality, like, I’m from New York, we the best, kiss my ass. That’s just that. But it’s people everywhere, the money is green from New York to California man, so…
XXL: You think because the labels are based out of here and such that East Coast artists and industry people get caught up not paying attention to the rest of the country?
Cam: The labels are stupid because what happens is the labels are from up here and then you got these people from Atlanta or down South or the Midwest, wherever you wanna say they don’t have the labels, but they created they’re own vibe or formula or whatever to get their stuff rocking without the label so what happened is the labels jump on top of that like, "Oh, this is what’s hot." Then they started getting played in New York when they already for they own thing, going on down South so it’s like a double whammy almost, no homo, like, it’s okay we can get the business done in New York. They already getting it done down South or in Atlanta to be more specific and it’s like two people hitting you at once to whereas it’s like, you’re from New York and the record company’s from New York so this is what you have to work with. Right now they’re not taking new artists and building them from the ground up. You have to get your own thing going.
XXL: Do you feel a lot of pressure to bring New York back? Or does that pressure not exist?
Cam: Nah, to me the way it works is, and that’s a lot of peoples’ misconception, I believe with music generally it doesn’t matter what area you from. I believe the way it goes is, make good music and then represent the city, the state or the part of the country that you’re from. Everybody wants you to jump on a record and say, 'Yo, I’m from New York or I’m from here, I’m from there.' Good music has to come before any of that because without good music, it doesn’t matter where you’re from.
XXL: It seems like publicly and my guess would be a lot of people privately too have tried to get you and Jim and everyone back together again. Is that something people have been bothering you a lot about? Are people always trying to push you back together?
XXL: Last month you told MTV that you and Jim had recently spoken on the phone. Right after that, in a few separate interviews, Jim denied that the two of you spoke on the phone then admitted he wasn't telling the truth so everyone was confused as to what really happened and who was lying and who wasn't. What did you think of all that?
Cam: Well, it didn’t bother me at all.
XXL: That didn’t bother you at all? And it didn’t hurt the chances of a Diplomats reunion at all? Or is that just a dead issue at this point?
Cam: At this point it’s kinda I’m moving on. I’m on to something different because, you know, at the end of the day I don’t like to drill on this ’cause it’s just like reoccurring over and over but it’s like, I don’t have to lie about a phone call and I didn’t understand the whole point of it because at that particular point I was kind of open minded to hearing what everybody had to say but you know that kind of just squashed that.
XXL: Being a longtime Diplomats fan and going to the show the other night, I didn’t really recognize many of the people onstage like I used to. You’re definitely entitled to have your differences and move on and do exactly what you’re doing but sometimes a fan misses the old crew. What do you say to a fan like that? Fuck it? Whatever? Shit happens?
Cam: Yeah that’s a good one, shit happens, gotta move on. Like I said, you never know what happens in the future but the immediate future, this year, any year, like I said I could say next year and they could be like next year they not with it but right now it’s nowhere in my near future at all.
XXL: What did you think of the Rick Ross/50 Cent Beef?
Cam: Well, you know, I thought it was good for hip-hop. It’s good to have those types of things going on for hip-hop. I thought it was real entertaining on both ends and I don’t know where it’s at now but I just looked at it as entertaining, I should say.
XXL: Are you at all tired of beef in hip-hop?
Cam: I’m not tired of it. I mean like I said—you know what it is—what’s good about it isn’t like everyday. You know even if it is everyday it dies down after a while and it does something else, resurfaces but I think it’s hot. I mean the same two people beefing for years I think is wack but when you got different joints, different people going on, I think It’s good. It’s always gonna be a place for it because somebody is not gonna like this person, somebody is not gonna like that music and especially with the Internet, everybody’s opinion can be viewed so quickly. I think there’s always gonna be a place for it. It’s always entertaining and it’s good for the game.-Vanessa Satten