On Dipset and fresh endeavours…

On May 14th 2014, ‘Dipshits’, a new track from The Diplomats’ de-facto general Cam’ron and Fool’s Gold Records founder, DJ and producer A-Trak, hit the web. With production support from Just Blaze, a hook from Juelz Santana and a video by Supreme’s Ricky Saiz (Cat Power even showed up for a cameo), everything was aligned perfectly and resulted in a ridiculous amount of internet hype – The Diplomats, or at least Cam’ron, had triumphantly returned.

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Cam’ron and A-Trak – ‘Dipshits’

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In the face of such fickle audiences nowadays, it’s great to see a rapper who has been active – on and off – for 20 years maintain such relevance. In fact, ‘Dipshits’ marked the 12th anniversary of Cam’ron’s breakthrough (third) album, ‘Come Home With Me’, the first of two solo albums released via Jay Z and Dame Dash’s Roc-A-Fella Records.

We await Cam’s arrival outside a bar in central London the day before his no-show at the Kentish Town Forum, which ignites gossip across blogs and social media in the days that follow. As he and his security spill out into the street he seems in good spirits, laughing at a YouTube video on his phone and showing it to his fiancé JuJu – an iconic figure in her own right due to her and Cam’s Instagram hijinks. The pair sport matching Dipset tracksuits and Jordans.

Cam arrived in London just this morning, following a 4,000-capacity sold-out show in his hometown of New York – his first with A-Trak in support of their forthcoming ‘Federal Reserve EP’ – and the success seems to be helping him overcome the tiredness of travelling.

“I didn’t know who A-Trak was,” Cam admits as we settle into a booth in the bar downstairs. “He wanted to do a song with me, and Dame Dash connected us. He was like, ‘A-Trak is really big in the world that he’s in.’ So I was like, ‘Let’s just put a project together.’ We went to the studio in my house three times and knocked out about nine songs. It wasn’t planned. It was just, ‘Oh, you want to do something? Let’s do something.’ Then we did it. It’s kinda working right now.”

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I don’t want to act like it’s a Dipset project coming out. That’s what everybody’s thinking, but I don’t want to get people hyped…

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‘Dipshits’ is the second track to come from the release, having been preceded by ‘Humphrey’, a track that didn’t have the impact of a visual, but caused excitement with A-Trak cleverly tapping into the soulful production style that would take Cam fans back to the height of his career. While ‘Federal Reserve’ certainly shouldn’t be viewed as a throwback project, A-Trak is clearly aware of the ingredients necessary to make a Cam’ron project that will stand up to classic material like ‘Come Home With Me’ (2002) and ‘Purple Haze’ (2004).

“I’m not even going to lie, A-Trak put the whole video together,” Cam’ron  says when asked about ‘Dipshits’. “He got the director, he paid for the video, all he needed from us was just to be us. So I went back to my hood in Harlem and we walked around and shot the video.” The Ricky Saiz-directed visual shows The Diplomats and Dame Dash wandering around Harlem like it’s 2003, and his Supreme affiliation places it perfectly into the street wear world where Cam and A-Trak’s audiences align.

Instantly, the dormant rumours of a Dipset reunion are reignited. The flames were previously rekindled back in 2010, when Cam, Jim Jones and Juelz Santana put out a street single entitled ‘Salute’, although nothing followed.

Cam is quick to dispel these rumours, explaining: “To be honest see, that’s the thing, everybody is anticipating a Dipset reunion. But what’s going on is a Cam’ron and A-Trak project. Jim Jones is on the record, Juelz Santana did a hook for it and Dame Dash put all of this together, but I don’t want to sell people dreams and act like it’s a Dipset project coming out. That’s what everybody’s thinking, but I don’t want to get people hyped. Like when ‘Salute’ comes and nothing follows, and you’re like, ‘What the hell happened?’”

Although that doesn’t mean that those hoping to hear more from The Diplomats should give up hope. “If we get it together and get it done cool,” he continues. “It’s just everybody kind of got their own schedule. Jim is busy with clothing; he’s doing a lot, his clothing line VampireLife is doing really well. Juelz just got out of his deal at Def Jam so he’s focusing on what he’s going to do next. And me, I just told you what I got going on. Everybody’s cool: Juelz and Jim was at my house two days ago, everybody’s mad cool, but it’s just about getting the work done and everybody being on the same page.”

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I’m blessed and thankful that when I come out I don’t have to create a demand…

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Aside from ‘Federal Reserve’, Cam is also gearing up for a lot more solo music this year, with a series of releases called ‘First Of The Month’. The concept sees Cam releasing a body of work that he has been recording over the past year broken down into monthly EPs. He explains: “Basically the ‘First Of The Month’ project is just finding a new way to do music. You know how we build stuff up to do an album and it takes a year or two years? This is constant music every month.”

The EPs also act as the soundtrack to monthly episodes that will make up a sequel to his cult film, Killa Season. “Everyone asks where part two is, but I never did it. So basically now what I’m doing is every month there will be a visual, so you don’t need to worry about where part two is: it’ll be continuous for six months.”

The timing for Cam’s return to music, while seemingly perfect, wasn’t calculated and strategized, rather it was what felt natural to him.

“Basically it just happened,” he says nonchalantly. “I’m blessed and thankful that when I come out I don’t have to create a demand. I take this time off, and when I come back people are anxious to know what I got going on. So it wasn’t really about the timing. All of the work that we’ve been putting in is almost done, and we’re putting it out and it’s seeming like a big deal. But it wasn’t really a scheduled plan, we just finished what we had to do. So it’s just time to get some of this stuff out.”

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Words: Grant Brydon
Photos: Liam MF Warwick
Fashion: Jayson Hindley

Cam’ron’s ‘Killa Season 2’ collection is forthcoming. Find the man online: Twitter / Facebook

This article originally appeared in issue 97 of Clash magazine

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