In the late ‘90s, New Yorkers were looking for a new rap hero. The Notorious B.I.G. was dead, A Tribe Called Quest had broken up, and Y2K anxiety was reaching a fever pitch. Cam’ron was in a perfect position to seize the mantle, all while sporting pink fur from top to bottom. The MC, born Cameron Ezike Giles in 1976, had the smoothest style to emerge from the 212 since Dapper Dan outfitted much of Harlem in the ‘70s. Cam’ron got his break when Mase passed along his music to The Notorious B.I.G., who helped him score an early record deal, but it wasn’t until he signed with Roc-A-Fella Records in 2001 that he began taking over New York’s rap game. On hits like “Hey Ma” from 2002’s Come Home With Me and the Kanye West-produced “Down and Out” from 2004’s Purple Haze, Cam’ron’s knack for melody is only matched by his out-of-the-box metaphors. On “Down and Out,” he raps, “You got pets? Me too, mines are dead/Fox, minks, gators, that's necessary/Accessories, my closet's Pet Sematary.” Cam’ron’s blend of humor, taste for luxury, and unrepentant street ethics made him a generational figurehead in a scene that was desperate for a new leader amid tragedy and drama, which he continued to build on with his 2019 return, Purple Haze 2. The album begins with “Toast to Me,” and after such a grand return, one can’t help but raise a glass.
HOMETOWNNew York, NY [Manhattan]
BORNFebruary 4, 1976