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by kenn on 7/12/2004 03:06:00 PM

CAM'RON: DIPLOMATIC IMMUNITY

The last time I caught up with Cam’ron we were getting crazily bent on the corner of 144th and Lenox drinking Alize and Caske and Cream out of Sprite bottles. He was about 50 or 60 pounds heavier and his red and blue Diplomats T-shirts had just come from the printer. Sports, Drugs and Entertainment was set to drop and resurrect the MC that his Harlem fam knew as Killa Cam. Unfortunately, Untertainment folded and S.D.E sat in limbo at Epic Records for a year. When it finally dropped bootleggers had already picked it apart like teriyaki skewers at a record release party. Cam went on hiatus. An ulcer and a hernia had him feelin’ like he’s losin weight. What’s next? Well, ya’ll know by now. He’s on the Roc. Come Home With Me is droppin’ in May and everything is lovely for the man who once held Stephon Marbury to 4 points in a b-ball tournament
(true story). The alumnus of Un Rivera’s label is rubbing elbows with the Jigga man…Oh, you peep that little thing called irony? God, I love this game….

How and why did you get off of Epic Records?
I left Epic because I didn’t like the way they marketed and promoted my album. Damon Dash was managing me when I was at Epic so we thought we’d put a better effort into the project. We felt Roc-A-Fella would be a better place. I recorded a third album on Epic and they said they didn’t hear any songs they liked and me and Dame were like “ya’ll are buggin.” So, I just became a problem to the point where they didn’t want to work with me anymore. I didn’t go to the studio, radio or nothing. I was a total asshole. I made it so it was cheaper to get rid of me.

How long have you know Damon Dash?
I’ve known Dame for about 15 years, since I was like 9 or 10 years old. He was at 142nd and Lenox and I was on 140th and Lenox. He moved to the East Side on 109th and first and I moved to a 110th and first.

Harlem has a lot of talent but you don’t’ see that many MCs coming out of there as other boroughs and cities.
Well, we’re about to start a whole new movement. I just signed a $2 million deal with Roc-A-Fella for my Diplomate Label. I’ve got Juelz Santana and Jimmy Jones coming out. Juelz is on the “Oh Boy” single with me and he’s nasty. Everybody wanted to sign him but Rocafella came with the right paper. He was on my last album, SDE, too. Epic didn’t want to sign him so I’m sure they feel like shit.

How did you get the role in Paid In Full?
Dame had the rights to a movie called Paid In Full based on 3 dudes in Harlem. Alpo called Damon and asked for me to play his part. Damon fought for me to audition for the part because the movie people wanted a professional. I’m really happy about it. It comes out September 14th.

What do you think made Alpo call and ask for you?
I couldn’t even answer that question cuz I never spoke to him a day in my life. I didn’t meet him at all, never. [The Role] was freestyle for me. It was like playing “O Dog” 2002 (laughs). I shot up everybody, got the girls and the money. A lot of people told me I did well.

Do you still have the family businesses going?
I just have the liquor store with my mom because I’m too busy to be hands on with it. I don’t like a lot of people running my stuff if I can’t keep an eye on it.

Your mom rhymed on your first album (“Me, My Moms and Jimmy”). Is she on the new joint?
Naw, she’s in party mode. She wants to go to every party and every show. She’s mad because she can’t go to this show in Philly today.

What’s the new album like?
It’s like 15 joints. Everybody from the Roc is on there. Just Blaze did like 4 tracks, D R Period. The title is from a song called Come Home With Me that talk about Harlem. It was originally called Blow but the movie people were acting funny. It’s like sampling music. I have this joint that samples Aretha Franklin and she won’t return my calls. I have this song with DMX , “Pull It” that I still can’t put out to this day because the group Main Ingredient won’t clear the sample.

Why did you remake Tupac’s “Ambitions As a Rider”?
I always liked that beat. I looked on the inside and saw that Daz Dillinger did the beat and called him and he did it over for me. I didn’t want to just sample it. I wanted to make it official. He sings the chorus. Don’t get me wrong, Tupac is the best. That’s my favorite nigga. As long as it ain’t wack, I’m cool with it.

And what about the unofficial Ja Rule remix to “Dial M for Murder”?
That joint I just did it cuz the beat was hot and I was doing a mixtape. I felt it would get more recognition if it was a “remix” instead of just a freestyle. Everybody liked it so my plan worked. I spoke to Ja and he was cool with it. He was like ‘you know that’s how the game goes.’ It wasn’t like I was selling it or nothin’. I was just listening to Foxy Brown on a Funk Flex tape doing a freestyle over “Oh Boy.” It ain’t personal or nothing.

How was making “Welcome to New York” with Jay-Z?
It was hot. We did the song in like 30 minutes. It’s a little grimier and darker than “Welcome to Atlanta.” We’re both quick thinkers. He did 16 bars, then I did 16 bars and then we did the last 16 together, 4,4,4,4. He told me how he was starting off and then we vibed.

Any plans to make that a single?
Everyday Dame listens to my album he says something else is gonna be a single. We got nine videos lined up (laughs).

Do you still keep in touch with Un Rivera?
I haven’t spoken to Un in like 2, 3 years. Nothing personal. Since before S.D.E came out. We never really saw eye-to-eye creatively, but I had mad respect for him because he put me on and gave me an opportunity. So once our business was over it wasn’t that I didn’t want to holla at him, I’m still on a mission to do what I gotta do. When I get situated I’mma holla at Un. I just need to focus right now.

Is there any awkwardness being on Roc-A-Fella considering that Jay-Z admitted in court to stabbing your former boss?
Honestly, not really. Jay is cool but as far as my business, Dame handles all of my business. I asked Dame if it was cool with the crew because I didn’t want to invade what they doin’, and he said they were cool with it. If there was any funny feelings Dame would have let me know. I hadn’t even been speaking to Un when that all went down. It ain’t like I grew up with Un and he was from my block (giggles), no disrespect. But that was some shit they was going through. I’m glad you asked that question.

What do you have planned with the Roc coming up?
We have the Roc-A-Fella tour this summer for the Dream Team album.

What was it like being in the booth with Bleek and Beans?
Honestly we ain’t even do it together. We just laid our part down and put it together later.

I see you rockin’ the Jacob and Co. watch.
I don’t shop at Jacob. This is a gift from Damon. I go to around the corner in the block.
In the district. I like them little stores. Jacob is the gaff. I seen Damon went in there the other day and spent $50,000 on one earring because he said it was the clarity and all this other shit. I was like ‘if you say so.’ He’ll sit there and argue you down like ‘This is a VS-1, it’s the only one from Africa.’ I’m like ‘That’s what he said?’ (rolls his eyes)

Any plans for a second single yet?
We getting ready to go to L.A to shoot “Leave Me Alone.” Everybody calls it “Ambitions of a Killa” but it’s called “Leave Me Alone.” If the Aretha Franklin joint don’t’ get cleared we’re gonna do “Hey Ma.”

(Staff member brings in Cam’ron’s McDonald’s lunch)

So Kanye West played the “Izzo” beat for you first?
Yeah, then he gave it to Jay. It happens. I don’t get turned down too often. But it’s Jay. I was mad but Kanye was from Chicago and it was his first time in N.Y and he was trying to get on. He meets me at Epic and then goes to Jay-Z and Roc-A-Fella and he wants to make a single, video and all of that. I would do what I gotta do (too).

What was the beef with Stan Spit?
I used to rhyme with the kid. I was gonna put him on but he couldn’t get his act together. That’s when I put on Juelz Santana. He did a song people didn’t hear dissing me on mixtapes. A lot of people heard mine and not his. Even if it don’t get press I’m irritated.

Like your ulcer?
Yeah, about two years ago I had an ulcer and a hernia. I had laser surgery to push my hernia in (lifts shirt to show surgery scars). And I have IBS, Irritable Bowl Syndrome. That’s from all drinking and fried foods. I’m not even supposed to be eating this (French fries). If I was home my girl would be flippin’! I haven’t drank since June of 2000, though. When I woke up in the morning I’d drink Alize like it was orange juice. I puff heavy, but drinking is a wrap.


- Jerry Barrow

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