Happy Birthday, Cam'ron!
Cameron Ezike Giles (born February 4, 1976), better known by his stage name Cam'ron (formerly Killa Cam), is an American rapper and actor from Harlem, New York City, NY. He is the de facto leader of East Coast Hip-hop groups The Diplomats (also known as Dipset), and The U.N. (Us Now).
Cameron Giles was born and raised in Harlem, New York. He went to school at Manhattan Center for Science and Mathematics, where he would meet his long time friends Mase and Jim Jones. He was a promising basketball player alongside Mase, however, he was unable to take advantage of scholarship offers due to his poor academic standing. He instead enrolled in a college in Texas, even without graduating from high school, but soon dropped out and returned to Harlem where he began selling drugs before starting his rap career. He began his musical career in the mid 1990s, rapping alongside Big L, Mase and his cousin Bloodshed in a group called Children of the Corn. However, after Bloodshed’s death in a car accident in 1997, the group disbanded and the remaining members continued solo careers.
Two years before Big L’s murder in 1999, Cam'ron was introduced to The Notorious B.I.G. by Mase who was signed to Bad Boy Records at the time. Biggie was so impressed by Cam'ron that he introduced him to his partner Lance “Un” Rivera who signed Cam'ron to his Untertainment label, distributed by Epic Records. His debut album, Confessions of Fire, was released in a year later, July 1998 and included singles such as “3-5-7” (which was also featured in the movie Woo), and “Horse and Carriage” featuring Mase which reached the R&B Top Ten and just missed out on reaching the pop Top 40. The album achieved gold status and made the Top 10 of both the pop and R&B charts.
In 2000, Cam'ron was working with music executive Tommy Mottola and released his second album S.D.E. (Sports Drugs & Entertainment) on Sony/Epic Records. With features from Destiny’s Child, Juelz Santana, Jim Jones, N.O.R.E., and producer Digga, it included the relatively successful singles, “Let Me Know” and “What Means The World To You”. The album reached Number 2 on the R&B/Hip-Hop Albums chart, and Number 14 on the Billboard 200.
After demanding a release from Sony/Epic Records, Cam'ron signed with his childhood friend and new manager Damon Dash to Roc-A-Fella Records in 2001, alongside artists such as Jay-Z, Beanie Sigel, Freeway and Memphis Bleek. A reported $4.5 million record deal was agreed upon with and Damon Dash and his Roc-A-Fella partners Kareem Biggs and Jay-Z in the form of a record advance. His third and most successful album Come Home With Me was released in 2002 featuring guests such as Jay-Z, Beanie Sigel, andMemphis Bleek, and production from Just Blaze, Kanye West and The Heatmakerz. It included the hit singles “Oh Boy” and “Hey Ma”, which both featured The Diplomats newest member and protégé, Juelz Santana. The album achieved platinum status and served as a stepping stone for Cam'ron’s group The Diplomats to sign with Roc-A-Fella.
In 2003 Cam'ron teamed up with his fellow Diplomats Members Jim Jones, Juelz Santana, and Freekey Zeeky to release the Diplomats’ debut double disc album, Diplomatic Immunity, in 2003 under Roc-A-Fella/Diplomat Records, which was quickly certified gold by the RIAA. The album featured the lead single “Dipset Anthem,” a remix to Cam'rons hit “Hey Ma” and the (street anthem) single “I Really Mean It,” as well as boasting production from Kanye West, Just Blaze, and The Heatmakerz. A year later, the Diplomats released their second album, Diplomatic Immunity 2. Although not as successful as their debut, it still was boosted to gold status. Around this time in the height of his mainstream fame, Cam'ron was known for popularizing the color pink. During this period, Cam'ron was always seen wearing pink clothing and even bought an all pink Range Rover which can be seen in his video for “Killa Cam”. Cam'ron’s fourth studio album, Purple Haze, was released on December 7, 2004 on Def Jam/Roc-A-Fella Records. It featured collaborations withKanye West, Jaheim, Twista, Juelz Santana, and various other artists and ultimately reached gold status. The album was also a critical success, being ranked 114th on Pitchfork Media’s Top 200 Albums of the first decade of the 21st century List, and 10th on Rhapsody’s Hip Hop’s Best Albums Of The Decade List. However, after feeling that the album was poorly promoted and that his projects were not receiving the attention they deserved, Cam'ron requested his release from Roc-A-Fella Records.
On April 28, 2005, Cam'Ron officially joined the Warner Music Group under the Asylum Records imprint. He began work on what would be his first project for the new label. Cam'ron’s fifth studio album, entitled Killa Season, was released on May 16, 2006 featuring production from long term collaborators The Heatmakerz, Charlmagne and Ty Fyffe, as well as others such as Alchemist and I.N.F.O.. Along with the album, Cam'ron released his first film, in which he wrote, directed and starred in, also titled “Killa Season”. Despite selling 112,000 units in the first week and debuting at #2 on the charts, Killa Season failed to have the same sales strength as his two previous releases and failed to reach gold or platinum status quickly, Eventually, Killa Season became certified gold.
After the release of Killa Season and his feud with 50 Cent in 2007, Cam'ron took a three year hiatus from music after his mother suffered three strokes which left her paralyzed on her left side. He moved to Florida with her to set up her rehabilitation and therapy, and stayed there until she had fully recovered. Cam'ron’s 2009 album, Crime Pays was released on Asylum/Diplomat Records, featuring the majority of the production handled by Skitzo and AraabMuzik. Although none of the singles managed to chart, the album still reached Number 3 on the Billboard 200 but only sold 150,000 units, making this the lowest selling album of his career. In 2009 Cam'ron formed a new label, Dipset West, and new group, The U.N..
In late 2009/early 2010, Cam'ron released a series of mixtapes hosted by DJ Drama called “Boss of All Boses” which featured his new upcoming artist Vado. He has also released an album with Vado entitled Cam'ron & The U.N. Presents: “Heat in Here Vol 1; the first single off the album was "Speaking Tongues” which peaked at number 82 on the U.S. R&B charts. Cam'ron announced that he would be releasing a joint album with his new group The U.N.. called “Gunz n’ Butta”. After 3 years Cam'ron & Jim Jones have decided to start working on a third installment of the Diplomatic Immunity album along with other Diplomat artists such as Juelz Santana & Freekey Zekey. Cam'ron announced that the Diplomat album’s release will take place around Christmas 2010. The first single featuring the reunited Diplomat members is called “Salute”. Produced by upcoming Diplomat producer AraabMuzik, the track was rumored to appear on Jim Jones next album Capo. He was featured on the song “The Bluff” off Wiz Khalifa’s second studio album ONIFC. His next studio album Killa Season 2 will be released in 2013. The album will feature guest appearances from Dipset, T.I., Nicki Minaj, and Wiz Khalifa. Prior to that he released a mixtape titled, Ghetto Heaven Vol 1 on October 1, 2013.
In 2003, Cam'ron went on to appear in the Damon Dash produced film, Paid in Full, in which he played one of three main characters alongside Mehki Phifer and Wood Harris. In 2006 started shooting his movie for his album entitled Killa Season, the film would mark both Cam'ron’s screenwriting and directorial debuts, as well as his return to acting. Killa Season was released to DVD on April 25, 2006, after a special two-day theatrical release.
Although there had been rumors of a beef between the two emcees, Cam'ron went public first with a track on “Killa Season” called “You Gotta Love It (Jay-Z Diss)” featuring ex-Dipset member Max B. In the song, Cam'ron takes jabs at Jay-Z’s age, his alleged “biting” (stealing) of lyrics, and his current girlfriend. He references Jay-Z using The Notorious B.I.G.’s rhymes, rapping “You ain’t the only one with big wallets got it my shit’s brolick but ya publishing should go to Miss Wallace.” He then released another song “Swagger Jacker (Biter Not a Writer)” to highlight the many songs Jay-Z has borrowed lines from. In the next issue of XXL, Cam'ron explained the beef originated when Jay-Z became CEO and President of Roc A Fella Records. In 2010 Cam'ron stated he does not have any issues with Jay-Z anymore.
On February 1, 2007, Cam'ron and 50 Cent had a live argument on The Angie Martinez Show on Hot 9 radio. 50 Cent commented that Koch Entertainment was a “graveyard”, meaning major record labels would not work with their artists. Cam'ron then ridiculed the record sales of G-Unit members Lloyd Banks and Mobb Deep by stating that Jim Jones outsold their albums despite being signed to an independent label and that his group, The Diplomats, had a distribution deal from several labels. Both rappers released “diss” songs with videos on YouTube. 50 Cent suggested in “Funeral Music” that Cam'ron is no longer able to lead The Diplomats and that Jim Jones should take his place. Cam'ron responded with “Curtis” and “Curtis Pt. II”, in which he makes fun of 50 Cent’s appearance, calling him “a gorilla, with rabbit teeth”. 50 Cent responded by releasing “Hold On” with Young Buck. Since 2009, the feud between the two has seemed to calm down.
During this time Cam'ron was not speaking to his fellow Diplomat members Juelz Santana and Jim Jones, leading to speculation that the group had broken up. However, despite admitting that he did not want to contact Jim Jones, he said that he had no hard feelings towards him. In an interview with Miss Info, Cam'ron said: “I still haven’t spoken to Jim. But Jim ran with me for over 10 years, he worked hard, and I wish him the best of luck. Everybody thinks I’m mad at Jim. Why am I mad? I told people for years that Jimmy was gonna be a star. So its better on my resume. I wish him the best.” But After three years of not speaking, Cam'ron and Jim Jones mended their differences in April 2010. In late 2011, both appeared together on Wolfgang Gartner’s album Weekend in America, on the track “Circus Freaks.”
After it was evident to the fans that The Diplomats had separated and were no longer on speaking terms, Cam'ron explained in an interview that he was scared for Juelz Santana stating he was “addicted to the drink Sizzurp” and even talked to his mother about his possible “addiction”. Juelz Santana responded back by asking why Cam'ron would say false accusations. Additionally, with The Diplomats seeming to be broken up and diminished, Cam'ron decided to sell Juelz Santana’s contract from Diplomat Records to Def Jam Records for $2,000,000. However, Juelz Santana said there were no hard feelings between the two and that they have since reconciled.
Both Cam'ron and Jim Jones took out their frustrations on former label-mate Kanye West in defense of former CEO Dame Dash by releasing a song entitled “Toast” rhyming over Kanye West’s song “Runaway”. Saying “And Kanye, you a sucker nigga / Dissed Dame, so my attitude is "fuck a nigga” / Sucka Jigga how you gone live with that / Took ya beat now come get it back". Despite this diss-track, when asked in an interview on Hot 97 with Funkmaster Flex of his take on the subject, Kanye responded by saying “Man, you don’t understand how much I love Dipset. But it’s so necessary; Dipset is so necessary. ”Additionally, Kanye said he understands that people do not agree with the way he does certain things and he, himself, does not even agree with some of the stuff he’s done. Currently, neither Cam'ron nor Jim Jones have responded back. The feud has later ended, since Cam'ron, Jim Jones, and Kanye West collaborated on a song called “Christmas in Harlem”.
On October 23, 2005, Cam'ron was leaving a nightclub in Washington D.C., having performed the day before at Howard University. While stopped at a traffic light at the intersection of New York and New Jersey Avenue shortly after midnight, a passenger of a nearby car threatened Cam'ron to “give up” his 2006 Lamborghini. Cam'ron resisted, and the man then shot him. Cam'ron was struck at least once as he was holding the steering wheel, but he was able to drive, going the wrong way on streets and flashing his lights, until a fan drove him to Howard University Hospital. The gunman and passenger fled and crashed into a parked car and fled the scene. D.C. Metro Police recovered a cell phone from the scene of the crash, which they tried to use to trace the suspects. He stated that he does not know who shot him.
On April 22, 2007, Cam'ron was interviewed on 60 Minutes as part of a piece on the Stop Snitchin' movement. He also stated that he would “not help the police” try to locate the shooter saying he is “not a snitch” and helping the police would probably hurt his record sales. He stated in the interview, “Because with the type of business I’m in, it would definitely hurt my business. And the way that I was raised, I just don’t do that. I was raised differently, not to tell…It’s about business but it’s still also a code of ethics”“ When asked by Anderson Cooper if he would tell the police if a serial killer was living next to him, Cam'ron replied "I would probably move,” but would not inform the police.
After the 60 Minutes interview aired, Cam'ron received a lot of media criticism for his statements.
Cam'ron later issued an apology for his comments, calling it an “error in judgement”: "Where I come from, once word gets out that you’ve cooperated with the police that only makes you a bigger target of criminal violence. That is a dark reality in so many neighborhoods like mine across America. I’m not saying its right, but its reality. And it’s not unfounded. There’s a harsh reality around violence and criminal justice in our inner cities.“ Cam'ron has had contact with the police in the past. According to The Smoking Gun, New York Police Department records indicate that Giles filed a police report with police after he was assaulted at a park in Harlem in 1999.