Beats, rhymes and life are three of the corners where hip hop intersects. Few other TV shows have been able to cover all of these angles in-depth and authentically quite like REVOLT TV’s “Drink Champs,” which thrives on its candid conversations with the biggest and most influential figures in the game. In honor of such a one-of-a-kind show, REVOLT will be recapping each weekly “Drink Champs” episode, so you can always catch the gems that are dropped in each lit interview.
On the latest episode of “Drink Champs,” N.O.R.E. and DJ EFN connect with rap legend Cam’ron, who makes his anticipated debut. A native of Harlem, Killa Cam, whose NBA hopes shattered after being kicked out of junior college, linked with childhood friend Ma$e, who secured his own record deal before putting Cam in the position to facilitate his own. He did just that, inking a deal with Undeas Records and releasing his debut album, Confessions of Fire, in 1998. From there, Cam’ron formed his own crew, The Diplomats, released a string of platinum and gold albums including Come Home With Me and Purple Haze; and established himself as a style icon and one of the greatest rappers of his era. Most recently releasing his seventh studio album, Purple Haze 2, the MC continues to make moves and music in effortless fashion.
To help give fans a recap of the episode, REVOLT compiled a list of nine things we learned from Cam’ron’s “Drink Champs” episode. Take a look at them below.
1. On Rapping For The Notorious B.I.G.
As legend has it, Cam’ron’s first record deal was secured after rapping for The Notorious B.I.G., a story he recalls during his sit down with N.O.R.E. and DJ EFN. “Mase took me to Big’s house ’cause I guess Big was looking for artists,” he recalls. “I got to his crib, his leg was broke, I think he was in a car accident. He had two bitches in the bed and he was just like... he wanted to sign another kid that Mase brought to him, and Mase was like, ‘Nah, Cam is the dude, Cam really got it.’ So he put on, like, fifteen beats, every beat he put on, I rapped to it... and he was like, ‘That’s enough, I wanna sign you. Let me call Un.’ I was like, ‘Bet, let’s do the deal.’”
2. On Disliking His Debut Album
A debut album is a landmark moment and a body of work that’s cherished by most artists, but according to Cam’ron, Confessions of Fire is an album he dislikes to this day. “I’ll do ‘What Means The World To You,’ I really wouldn’t do ‘Horse & Carriage,’” he says of old fan favorites. “Because even though that album was dope [and] everybody likes Confessions of Fire, it’s not 100% mine. Like, I wrote everything and did everything, but Un had a lot of say on that. Un is a creative dude and I’ma creative dude. But, if you’re in a car, it’s only one steering wheel, only one person can drive, so we clashed heads a lot. And not in a bad way, just creatively. But you gotta realize, from their point of view, I signed my deal in September of 1997 or November. But, Biggie died in March. They lived with Big, that’s their man, [so] everything I did got compared to Big. Like, ‘Yo, Big would’ve did it like this, Big would’ve did it like that’ because that was his crew, and I’m like, ‘I’m not from Brooklyn. There’s only one Big, you gotta let me be myself.’”
3. On Being Tricked Into Meeting Juelz Santana
Juelz Santana’s induction as a member of Diplomats marked Cam’s evolution into a mogul and talent scout. However, he reveals that he never intended to meet with the brash spitter. “Well, Juelz is on my second album,” Cam explains. “Soon as I left there (Undeas), I ran into him. My best friend in elementary school basically was like, ‘Yo I got this kid that’s hot,’ and I ain’t have my shit together at the time. I’m like, ‘I don’t really wanna listen to nobody until I get my shit together,’ and I fell asleep in my car. He was driving my car and when I woke up, Juelz was in my backseat. He was like, ‘This is the kid I was telling you about.’ I’m like, ‘Yo, bro, what are you doing?’ ...So, I’m like, ‘You already in the car rap’ and when he rapped, he was super hot. I was like, ‘Nah, this kid is tough,’ so I invited him to the studio and we started working on SDE album.”
4. On Where His Self-Confidence Comes From
Since landing on the scene during the latter half of the ‘90s, Cam’ron has always been known for his brash brand of confidence, which borders on outright arrogance at times. When asked if the music industry ever made him go “Hollywood,” he speaks on how he’s never relied on external sources to define his view of himself. “I felt I was Hollywood before I was anybody,” he says. “I wake up this morning, I talk to myself in the mirror for ten minutes before I leave my house and tell myself, ‘I’m that nigga.’ A nigga will walk in on me like, ‘Yo, what’s going on?’ I’m like, ‘Yo, it’s just me and him.’ For real, I do that shit. I practice how I wear my hat, how I walk, I’ll walk on a treadmill practicing how I walk up that block. I feel I’m that nigga, so I ain’t really feel no way about none of that shit... Now, do I act Hollywood with my niggas? No.”
5. On JAY-Z Threatening To Slap DJ Kay Slay
As he shares stories of his time at Roc-A-Fella Records, Cam admits that in spite of his attempts to build a bridge with his new label-mates, JAY-Z was less than enthusiastic about his presence initially. He also speaks on an altercation between Hov and DJ Kay Slay that nearly took place. “Basically, when I got to Roc-A-Fella, I tried to ingratiate myself with everybody,” he recalls. “Y’all got y’all own thing, I don’t wanna come in here and seem like I’m stepping on toes or whatever, so I’m cool with everybody. JAY is a competitor, so me coming there, this was Dame’s situation, this ain’t something that he did. First thing that happened is I brought Kay Slay up there and I didn’t know he (JAY) was mad at Kay Slay ‘cause [he] must’ve played ‘Ether’ at the time and he was mad at Nas... So, Kay came up there, boom, JAY wasn’t there, but as I’m leaving, Jay is in the lobby of Baseline. So, I walk Kay to the elevator, and I guess Kay and JAY-Z said, ‘What’s up?’ or whatever. So, I walk back in, he said, ‘Yo, you gotta be careful who you’re bringing around here, we might’ve just slapped the shit out of Kay Slay.’ And I’m like, ‘Wait, what’s going on?’ He’s like, ‘Yo, just saying, be careful who you bring up here.’ I’m like, ‘Aight, cool. This is y’all house, I ain’t got a problem with that.’”
6. On JAY-Z Erasing His Verse From A Song
The story of Cam’ron scrapping a JAY-Z verse recorded to appear on the remix to “Oh Boy” has previously been confirmed by the Harlem rapper, himself. However, he reveals that the move was in response to Hov doing the same to him in an instance involving Peedi Crakk’s buzz single “One for Peedi Crakk” months prior. “They’re in the studio,” Cam says of the interaction with Peedi. “He said he got this hot song ‘cause he wasn’t signed to State Property, I was fucking with him. He’d come to New York or whatever and I was gonna sign him. But, Dame was like, ‘That’s gonna fuck y’all up, he from Philly,’ and all that. It’s seeming like he’s [with State Property], but he’s not. So, he’s like, I’m not signed to them niggas, Cam, so we did the song. So, Peedi’s playing the song for JAY-Z and whoever else is in the studio. He says he’s in the studio playing it and my verse comes on and JAY says, ‘Stop it. Erase that shit’ and just erased my whole verse.”
7. On Seeing JAY-Z Evolve From An Opening Act Into A Headliner
Cam’ron’s history with JAY-Z dates back to the mid ‘90s, when he would occasionally accompany Hov and Dame on promotional trips to build a buzz. Cam speaks on personally seeing them go from pay out of their own pockets in order for JAY to perform to Hov become a headliner. “They just had money,” Cam says. “Him and Dame was getting money, and me and Bleek used to ride around with them. Jay didn’t have no deal, I was Dame’s young man, Bleek was JAY’s young nigga, and I remember they had the song ‘Coming of Age’ and Bleek used to perform that with him. But, I remember going to Philly, me, Bleek, JAY and Dame in their car, and them niggas opening up for Method Man. Method Man was on top of the world and Dame and JAY paid to open up... But you know what was bugged out, years later, when they had the ‘Hard Knock Life Tour.’ Method Man and Redman was opening up for fucking JAY-Z. They was the opening act, I was like, ‘That’s fucking amazing, ’cause I remember these niggas just paying to open up. They ain’t have no deal, they ain’t have nothing, they had bread and said, ‘Let us be the opening act.’ So the progression of JAY-Z, I seen it.”
8. On Being A Fan Of Nas Despite Dissing Him
Cam’ron and Dipset’s incendiary takedown of Nas in 2002 caused major waves, and established the crew as ones not to take lightly. However, Cam admits to being hesitant in taking on such a formidable lyricist and looming figure in the culture. “It was a hard decision,” he admits. “‘Cause Nas just got on the radio and started dissing niggas and we’re big Nas fans. Super big Nas fans. So, we’re like, ‘Damn, what the fuck is this about? Why is he dissing us?’ but at the same time, we’re gaining momentum in the street, too... And niggas is like, ‘Nah, you can’t ignore that shit right now.’
9. On His Role In The Roc-A-Fella Breakup
The split between Roc-A-Fella Records co-founders JAY-Z and Dame remains one of the more intriguing topics in hip hop with many still attempting to make sense of the straw that broke the camel’s back nearly two decades later. While Cam takes ownership on how his presence at the label may have strained their relationship, he concludes that it was all but a foregone conclusion by the time he had arrived. “I think that’s something that you have to ask JAY or Dame or whoever,” he says of the role. “But me personally, I just think it was a lack of communication. And JAY-Z wasn’t digging how shit was being ran when he wasn’t around, that’s what I think. ‘Cause when I got there, JAY wouldn’t come to the office everyday and I don’t think he necessarily liked everything that was going on in the office. Whether it’s decisions being made without him being talked to about it, or anything like that, to where he probably was planning on doing shit on his own before it came to light anyway. But, it’s something you have to ask him. Me personally, do I think my situation played a role? Yeah, but not purposely that I did anything. I just think that we brought too much there.”