Cam'ron - Crime Pays
(Diplomat Records/Asylum Records - 2009)
Cameron Giles. Poet. Entrepreneur. Philanthropist. Founder of The Diplomats rap crew, one of the biggest movements in Hip-Hop. At least they used to be. The man who once proclaimed to only rap because he's nice. KFC. King Jaffe Joe. Spacely Sprockets. The one and only, Killa Cam. It's been a minute since we've seen Killa. Actually, more like three years, the longest break in between albums for Cam since S.D.E. & Come Home With Me. Last time we heard from Cam was 2006's Killa Season, which despite critical praise and love from Dip Set loyalists, went on to become Cam'ron's lowest selling album to date. Then came the infamous on-air phone conversation between Cam & 50 Cent, a convo that sparked a series of back and forth insults & and diss records between the two.
Behind the scenes there were tensions within the Diplomats between Cam and his fellow Dip's (?) Jim Jones & Juelz Santana, which culminated in Jim & Juelz taking the stage alongside 50 Cent and G-Unit at a show in the city, which many took as them siding with the "enemy". It was clear that The Diplomats as a crew had been fractured and Cam kinda fell back, leaving Jim Jones to carry the torch for the next couple of years, coming into his own as a successful solo artist. Juelz was eventually brought out of his contract with Cam but there's been bad blood between the two ever since.
Then came the Public Enemy #1 mixtape, a stellar (if not slightly bloated) platter to welcome Cam back from hiatus, right? Not exactly. Aside from a random MP3 here and there it'd be a full year until Cam'ron's official return to the rap game with his latest long play, Crime Pays, and the game has changed. For the first time in years, the usual supporting cast of Jim, Juelz and Freekey Zeekey are no where in sight. Crime Pays is a decidedly solo affair with only a few features, none of em from any artist with a song on the Billboard charts and a bunch of producers that only the most die hard Dip Set aficionados would recognize. It's safe to say that Cam'ron is not looking to a return to BET's 106th & Park with this album.
One thing is clear from the outset. If you were looking for an explaination for Cam's disappearance or for him to provide some clarity concerning his relationship with the rest of the Diplomats, keep looking. You'll find no such thing on this album. Instead, it picks up right where Killa Season left off, with Cam knee deep in women, jewelry and cocaine. I mean, did you expect anything different? Even though Crime Pays is a low budget affair production-wise, Cam hasn't skipped a beat as far as lyrics are concerned. As colorful and ignorantly arrogant as ever, Killa proceeds to deliver with gems like this couplet from "Where I Know You From"...
I can import, exported sports car, let's sport it, fresh auto,
Robb Report, I just bought it
I scream "Let's get it!", they ain't pimp my ride
But my car's an Xzibit, uh, next critic
I don't talk it, I just live it, just prove it
Tell the Feds "Calm down", it's just music
Street anthems like "Cookin' Up", "Curve" and "Homicide" are where Cam's most comfortable, spitting punchline packed rhymes over hard hitting productions but it's the songs like "Never Ever" and the anthem for the everyman, "My Job" which truly showcase Cam's versatility and creativity.
Not every song hits it's mark though. As is the problem with most Dip Set releases, the album is weighed down by a bunch of filler in the mid section and is padded with one too many skits (one of which is an obvious jab at Juelz). "Who" suffers from boring production and basic bars and "You Know What's Up" featuring C.O. And Sky-Lyn (I mean, really? Your major recording debut and that's what you're gonna go with? Really?) is just an oddball concoction all together. Cam's always been a peculiar dude but the trance inspired "Spend The Night" would be a song better suited for Wiz Khalifa's last mixtape and while Cam carries the song lyrically it's still glaringly out of place on this album.
Other standouts include Cam's shoutout to the Mid West, "I Used To Get It In Ohio", the Down Bottom party starter, "Cookies & Applejuice", the reflective "Get It Get It" and my personal favorite, the playfully misogynist "Bottom Of The Pussy Hole", where Cam crafts an X rated "break up to make up" tale like only he can. Peep game...
We made the sweetest merger, Should I keep or curve her?
The sex agreed it's murder, plus, she's a squirter
Yeah, baby girl drenched the bed
Sprinkler system, right on my expensive spread
Romance, Killa style.
Crime Pays could have used a little more quality control, especially around the mid section, but with Cam just coming back after such a long layoff, I don't see any of the hardcore fans complaining. Production value is low but Cam still manages to be effective over beats that tend to blur regional divisions, assuring Crime Pays gets hood love from the corners of Harlem to the traps in Atlanta and all spots in between. While the album isn't likely to grow Cam'ron's fan base, it's a satisfying comeback for everyone who's been waiting on his return. Now all we can do is hope that Cam, Jim, Juelz and the rest of The Diplomats can patch up whatever's been broken and give the streets the full fledged Diplomat reunion they've been waiting for.
Bonus: The OG version of "Bottom Of The Pussy Hole" with intro by YouTube phenomenon, Alexis K. Tyler. Her words put the song into context lol.
Plus, the new video...
Cam’ron - Cookies-N-Apple Juice (Feat. Skitzo & Byrd Lady) / Silky (No Homo)