Cam’ron – “U Wasn’t There” review

Cam’ron is a 46 year old rapper, record executive & actor from Harlem, New York who came up in the mid-late 90’s as a member of the Children of the Corn. He eventually signed to Epic Records as a solo artist, dropping his first 2 full-lengths Confessions of Fire & S.D.E. (Sports, Drugs & Entertainment) with them until the contract expired. However Cam’s biggest exposure would come by forming his own group The Diplomats as a well as signing to Roc-A-Fella Records & Def Jam Recordings in 2001. His next 2 efforts Come Home with Me & Purple Haze would become his most sought out bodies of work, but Cam would leave The Roc & sign to Asylum Records in ‘05 due to the poor promotion of Purple Haze. Cam would yet again drop 2 outings with Asylum before parting ways, Killa Season & Crime Pays. He has since dropped a couple mixtapes & originally planned on retiring from making music following Purple Haze 2 a few Christmases back, Killa has had a change of heart & is bringing in Fool’s Gold Records founder A-Trak to produce his 7th EP.

Things kick off with a superior remix to “This is My City” off Cam’s last album featuring co-production from Thelonius Martin whereas “All I Really Wanted” works in some lavish keyboard embellishments & chipmunk soul with G Koop’s assistance talking about all the things he desires most in life. Conway the Machine tags along for the horn-laced “Ghetto Prophets laced with the help of DJ Khalil wittingly declaring themselves to be such, but then “Dipset Acrylics” weaves some reggae influences into the fold down to the Mr. Vegas feature awkwardly talking about sex.

After the spoken word Dame Dash skit with Kenny Beats supplying the synths, “Cheers” comes through with a colorful celebratory anthem just before Jim Jones & Styles P come into the picture for the tropical trap banger “Think Boy” demanding to know how others really feels bout them. The penultimate track “What You Do” is a jazzy ode to Killa’s accomplishments that !llmind helped put together & “Dipshits” ends the EP with a throwback to the Dipset era from the Juelz Santana appearance to Just Blaze having his hand with the beat.

For a little 27 minute EP, I can honestly say that U Wasn’t There is the most I’ve enjoyed a Cam project in a minute & will go down as a high point on his catalog in due time. A-Trak’s production happens to be admirably more eclectic than Purple Haze 2 was with Killa Cam sounding like he has a fire under his ass lyrically.

Score: 4/5

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Cam’ron – “Purple Haze 2” review

This is the 7th & allegedly final album from Harlem veteran Cam’ron. Coming up as a member of the Children of the Corn, he eventually signed to Epic Records for a solo career in the late 90’s/early 2000s with his first 2 albums Confessions of Fire & S.D.E. (Sports, Drugs & Entertainment). Once the contract expired, then came Cam’s biggest exposure: forming his own group The Diplomats as a well as signing to Roc-A-Fella Records & Def Jam Recordings in 2001. His next 2 albums Come Home with Me & Purple Haze would become his most sought out bodies of work, but Cam would leave The Roc & sign to Asylum Records in ‘05 due to the poor promotion of Purple Haze. Cam would yet again release 2 albums with Asylum before parting ways, Killa Season & Crime Pays. Since then he’s only put 2 mixtapes but to end the 2010s, he’s delivering the long-awaited sequel to what I believe to be his magnum opus.

The opener “Toast to Me” gets celebratory over a Heatmakerz instrumental filled with high-pitched vocal samples whereas the next song “Medellin” talks about still being the man over a spacious trap beat. The track “Losin’ Weight 3” is a touching conclusion to the titular trilogy of the same name & even though the song “K.O.P.” has a cool synth-heavy boom bap instrumental, Cam’s melodic delivery is horrendous. The track “I Don’t Know” with Wale sees the 2 getting playfully flirtatious over a sensual beat while the song “Big Deal” pays tribute to Hud 6 & Bloodshed over a grand instrumental.

The track “Fast Lane” is Cam victoriously flexing over a celebratory instrumental while the song “The Right One” reflects on where he came from over a luxurious instrumental. The track “This is My City” with Max B sees the 2 paying tribute to NYC over blissful piano instrumental while the song “Keep Rising” talks about sex over a funky instrumental. “The Get Back” not only has a cheery instrumental, but Cam’s bars on here are really charming as well. Especially the one at the start of the song about this girl he slept with telling him that she has a yeast infection & he responds by saying he “doesn’t bake bread”.

The track “Just Be Honest” talks about keeping it real over an instrumental with an old school groove to it while the song “Ride the Wave” gets raunchy over a slow instrumental that suits the mood. The track “Killa Bounce” talks about how he can’t keep the ladies off him over an hip house beat. The penultimate track “Believe in Flee” talks about being hopeful over a beat with a grim key-board lead & then there’s the closer “Straight Harlem”, where Cam gets with Jim Jones & Shooter to talk about how they’re the realest in their hometown over an instrumental with some ominous strings & horns.

If this truly is the last time we’ll ever hear the man, then I can’t be mad at it. Cam sounds focused, the features mostly compliment him & the production’s a lot harder than it was on Crime Pays. A lot of sequel albums fail to live up to the hype of the original, but this is definitely one of the more solid ones out there.

Score: 3.5/5

The Diplomats – “Diplomatic Ties” review

The Diplomats are a legendary hip hop crew from Harlem, New York consisting of Cam’ron, Jim Jones, Juelz Santana & Freekey Zekey. They landed a deal with Roc-A-Fella Records & Def Jam Recordings in 2001, dropping their classic double disc debut Diplomatic Immunity in 2003. Eventually, they went to E1 Music & released a mediocre sequel the following year. Since then, they’ve had a lot of ups & downs but they’re finally dropping their very 1st EP.

After talking street shit & dissing Kanye West over an organ & a vocal sample on the intro, we go into the next song “Live Forever”. Here, the crew talk about their return over a triumphant instrumental from none other than the Heatmakerz. However, I much prefer the Kanye produced song with the same name off of Cam’s classic 4th album Purple Haze. The track “On God” talks about loyalty over a dark trap instrumental from Murda Beatz while the song “Sauce Boyz”  is a club banger over a soulful beat from the Heatmakeraz. The track “Dipset / Lox” is a lyrical onslaught by both parties over a gritty instrumental from Cool & Dre while the song “Uptown” is another club banger except with a somewhat jazzier beat.

The track “No Sleep” is a sex tune over a trap beat with some horns & a mediocre Tory Lanez hook while the group’s last song on the entire EP “By Any Means” gets confrontational over a chaotic trap beat. The closer performed by none other than Un Casa has some devilish choir vocals with some snares as well, but the performance from Un Casa himself just doesn’t do anything for me.

For the 14 year wait, this was well worth it. Despite running at only 33 minutes in length, the production is mostly fun & all 4 members sound happy to be back together. If they ever drop anything bigger in the future, then I’m all for it.

Score: 3.5/5