Tuesday, May 16, 2006

Cam'ron - Killa Season

If ignorance is bliss, then there probably aren't many people in the world happier than Cameron Giles. Out of all of the rappers who don't give a fuck, Cam'ron might give so little of a fuck that calling it "not giving a fuck" would be an overstatement. There's not really a more fitting explanation than that as to why Cam would nickname his Diplomat crew the "Taliban" less than a year after the planes hit the World Trade Center. Or why, on a diss track to Nas, he'd threaten to do an "R. Kelly" to his daughter (which may not seem all that serious, until you consider that New York morning radio host Star made a similar comment about a rival DJ on the air... and got arrested). Or why he'd make a diss track to the most powerful man in rap music right now and focus almost solely on his physical appearance and fashion sense. Cam wears his smugness and cockiness like his platinum chains, and unless you really want to hate it, then just like the title to his Jay-Z diss record... "You Gotta Love It".

Killa Season is Cam's follow-up to '04's oft-delayed Purple Haze, his final album on Roc-A-Fella Records. One of the main reasons for that album's delays was the inability to find a marketable 1st single, leading to the atrocious and I-can-only-hope-it-was-forced remake of Cyndi Lauper's "Girls Just Wanna Have Fun". With his new deal at Asylum Records, it's clear that Cam has more say and less restrictions as to what he can put out, hence Killa Season's 1st single -- "Suck It Or Not" f/ Lil' Wayne (aptly renamed "Touch It Or Not" for TV and radio). If the track's title didn't give it away, here's what Cam's getting at...

"My dick hard as a motherfucker/
You don't what? Tell that shit to another sucker/
I ain't no sucker, mama/
Come on, fuck the drama/
And kiss it down, lil' pucker-rama/
I'm so active, you being so drastic/
Got something for ya face, fuck Pro-Activ...

Lookin' light skinned, mami was tight slim/
Fat ass, big tits, I noticed her nice chin/
I approached her, slight grin, white Timbs/
Number you can type in, said she don't like men/
I just laughed, 'Ma, if we link, we link/
You don't like men? Me neither, what a coin-ci-dink'"

These bars give a good example of the yin and yang of Killa Cam. The lyrical skill is present, and I'd go as far as to say that Cam's persistence in trying to rhyme every bar with multiple syllables is comparable to Kool G Rap, one of the best that ever did it. But content-wise, there's nothing really redeeming about Cam trying to get some head, and possibly a menage-a-trois. [Granted, I've never been able to hook up the latter, so I guess I can't be positive.] The same can be said about "Get Ya Gun", which starts off with a female-narrated public service announcement about the dangers of guns, before Cam gets on the mic and challenges haters to, well, get their guns. On "Get 'Em Daddy (Remix)" f/ DipSet members Hell Rell, JR Writer & Jim Jones, Cam's closing verse is dedicated to the failed robbers who shot him up after failing to get him to hand over his blue Lambo ("I ain't see stars/ I'm a 'G', pa/ Threw the Lamb' in 6, drove to the ER" -- attempted murder for some, just another verse for Killa), and on his 2nd verse of "Girls, Cash, Cars", he delivers an important message about feminine hygiene. Tracks like these fall in line with Cam's obnoxious arrogance that "you gotta love".

However, it gets to the point where you might feel like you've heard all this before from Cam -- literally. Not counting the 2 singles "Suck It Or Not" and "Wet Wipes", there are 7 tracks on this album that have been previously released in some way, shape, or form. "War" f/ Hell Rell and "White Girls" were both on the commercially-released DipSet mixtape The Movement Moves On, which came out just last month. "Get 'Em Daddy (Remix)" and "Girls, Cash, Cars", both in the same vein of his classic "Get 'Em Girls", are also both mixtape fodder that are at least 6 months old. Since these are quality songs, it doesn't affect the album all that much, but the other previously-released tracks are switched up in ways that make them pale in comparison to their original versions. The aforementioned Jay-Z diss record "You Gotta Love It" f/ Max B is here in its 6-minute entirety, but there's some added high-pitched sound in the beat that makes it tough to listen to. "Do Your Thing (Remix)" changes the original's beat entirely, taking what could've been a nice track for the summertime and turning it into skippable material. Lastly, the original version of "Something New" had Cam and R&B crooner Jaheim trading verses over a beat sampling Bobby and James Purify's "I'm Your Puppet", making something old truly sound like "something new" -- but with the album's version replacing Jaheim's parts with rhymes from Hell Rell, it comes off more like a mixtape freestyle. Cam is certainly aware of the cult-like following that his Diplomat crew has garnered, and judging from how much skrill he pulls in off of mixtape sales alone, he must also know that his fans are likely to hear most everything he releases in between albums. Furthermore, if he's so willing to include old songs on a new album, he definitely messed up by not including "It's Nothin'" f/ Juelz Santana, which could've been the best song on this album.

The newer material on Killa Season is pretty much what you'd expect from a Cam'ron album. Songs like "Leave You Alone" and "Triple Up" f/ 40 Cal feature dramatic production and witty lyrics ("For 45 hundred I will John Doe you/ Ya moms won't know you") that are more about blowing out brains than blowing minds. Cam has carved out a niche for making such tracks, so much so that the tracks that stray away from this formula are the ones that bring down the album. "I.B.S." is about Cam's ordeals as a youth with irritable bowel syndrome, and while Cam deserves applause for putting such a personal subject out in the open, the song itself loses interest quickly. The album's closer "Love My Life" sees Cam reminiscing over the dead, but the singing in the chorus is not easy on the ears; and on the topic of bad singing, "He Tried To Play Me" features a pretty good verse from Cam, if you can get through the 1st minute-and-a-half.

Considering the high expectations put on this album, be it the months of promotion or the straight-to-DVD movie of the same title, it's debateable whether or not Killa Season meets them. Datedness and bad singing plague a handful of tracks, making it difficult to classify the overall quality of the album as anything greater than "decent" -- it's nowhere near Purple Haze, and not quite as good as '02's Come Home With Me, which introduced the world to Cam's Diplomat movement that is still going strong. In the end, it's not going to win Cam any new fans, but it will satisfy those familiar with the Dips until the next time Cam and his crew flood the market with new music.