Cam'ron is approaching the sunset days of his career in music. "I'm winding down," Harlem's rap king told The FADER over the phone last week, "getting more focused on movies and television." And indeed, his current on-screen endeavors, which include the sequel to his 2014 Netflix film Percentage and a pilot for a semi-autobiographical sitcom that sounds like a cross between 50 Cent's MTV reality show The Money And The Power and The Office, sound promising. But before he fades out of the rap game, he's got one more album to drop: Purple Haze 2.
Cam's so-called retirement album, Purple Haze 2 is allegedly slated to arrive this fall. And today, the Dipset boss has delivered a new song called "U Wasn't There," a classic Killa style pean to the lesser-known friends, family, and foe who helped shape his two decades long career. Each one of these folks is featured visually in the song's accompanying self-directed video (above), which is a web art-style slideshow comprised of photos Cam'ron collected from Facebook, Instagram, and his mother's archive.
"Everybody knows the usual suspects when it comes to me, the people I rap with or the people I always shout out," Cam explained. "This is giving me a chance to shout out some of the people I never have. I feel good doing something like this. It's kind of the story behind the story."
Below, meet the teenage sweetheart who kept him clothed, the basketball coach who kept him focused, the record execs who were first to sign him, and his petty cousin "Joe."
Thank god for Toy Dawkins, she took care of me
Toy Dawkins: "That's my son's mother. I've known her since I was eleven years old. During my teenage years, when I really wasn't doing that well financially, she helped out a lot. Even though me and her were basically the same age, she always made sure I had a couple dollars in my pocket and clothes on my back—and that was before we even had a child. I never really shouted her out like that, so I just wanted to give her a shout out. "
My Grandma Dot took me in
Grandma Dot: "That's my grandmama. I lived with her my whole high school, from 9th grade to 12th grade. She passed away about three years ago this March. She took care of me during my teenage years before I went away to college, so shout her out."
Argue with Grandpa Jerry
Grandpa Jerry: "That was my grandfather, which was [Gradmama Dot's] husband. He always thought I was stealing his clothes or something like that, but I would never wear what he would be wearing. There was a time when I would just write down the stuff that he said because it would be unbelievable. Like, he'll tell me, 'Every time you go to the bathroom you flush the toilet' or 'Every time you go to your room you go to sleep.' Advice you'd be like, huh?"
Scheme with Uncle Teddy
Uncle Teddy: "That was [Grandmama Dot and Gradpa Jerry's] son. He was older than me, but he acted as more of a friend. We did a lot of plotting and thinking about ideas together, whether it be opening up a restaurant or parking lot. Never became more than wishing, but thinking about ideas we could do when we ended up getting some real money. The three of them are passed away."
Ain't fuck with Cousin Joe, he was too petty
Cousin Joe: "Well, I don't really have a cousin Joe. I didn't want to say the real cousin, because I didn't want anybody to get too offended, I didn't want to blow them up. I got a lot of cousins, so if they've got guilty conscience, most likely it be them. But I'm not going to say any names, I disguised it."
[Dave and Rock] wouldn't give me work, because I was nice at ball
Dave and Rock: "Dave coached the basketball team and Rock played on the team. Every time I'd think of doing something negative, Dave'd be like, "Come on, Cam. You're too good in basketball to do something negative. You got a future ahead of you." I was 13 or 14 years old wanting a million dollars tomorrow and they taught me some patience. I haven't seen them in a long time, I probably seen Dave about two or three years ago. But every time I seen 'em, I show him love and tell him thank you for being a mentor for when I was younger."
Digga did tracks for me, Big L rapped for me
Digga and Big L: "Digga was the dude who when I was rapping back in the day in this group call CLC, he did all the beats for us. We actually was going to start the Diplomat company together, but he started his own company called Six Figure Entertainment. He did all the beats for us back in the day and I never really shouted him out. He was on my first album a lot, a little bit on my second album too. After that we kind of stopped working together, but I kind of wanted to shout him out because he was there in the very very beginning when I wasn't taking it that serious. He's the person who took it more serious than me. Big L, we grew up one block away from each other so that's my boy."
A.J. held the guns, he'll still clap for me
A.J.: "A.J. was like my security. He was good at basketball too, but AJ was the enforcer. Nothing too bad, I'm just talking about, I seen him be in the middle of a street fight and take his belt off and beat somebody`with the belt buckle. He always was the dude who overlooked it for you, you could say. Me and A.J., we probably met at Laguardia house. I don't even remember how we met, but probably about ten or 11 through basketball."
[Chassidy and her sister Daphne] drove over the bridge for us, yes the Tappan Zee
Chassidy and Daphne: "They used to take car rides and stuff with us. They was from Westchester, New York. Sometimes we would take car rides; sometimes there would be drugs in the car, guns, whatever. But it's always good to have two girls with you, because just two or three guys in the car looks suspicious. They used to take the rides with us, so I gave them a shoutout also."
Good looking Lance Rivera, Jacob for backing me
Lance Rivera and Jacob: "Those two guys, Lance Rivera was the president and Jacob York was the vice president, they're the people who gave me my first deal [on Untertainment Records] so I just wanted to shout 'em out to put out my first album. It wasn't their fault—to be honest, I didn't express it all the way through in this song—but what happened was, they ended up loosing their deal [with Epic Records]. When they lost their deal, I would have stayed with them, but Epic had a contract saying they got to pick whatever artists from Untertainment they wanted. So I went to Epic not by choice, actually. I am saying thank you to them, and the tragedy part is that I was taken away from them and put onto Epic. It's like a father coming in and taking a kid from their mother and saying that's that. But Epic was the parent company, my album went gold, so Epic when they dropped Untertainment they got the rights and the contracts to take whatever artists they helped build, and they felt they helped me build to be a gold artist."
Dominican Rich just gave some smack to me
Dominican Rich: "I can't really talk bout that."
Tito Poppin, you was there
Tito: "He my man, he's my road manager. He's been with me since the first album. He's not my road manager, but he kind of is, and he's my friend. I pay him like he's my road manager. He's from my neighborhood, he's been their from there from the very beginning."
Columbus, Ohio, baby!
Kidder and Freeze: "Those are a couple of my boys that I met out in Ohio. I was living out there in Columbus, I opened up a club up there and them two dudes where just real cool."
What up West Side? Duke, I still love you
Trese, Khalila, and Duke: "They just cool people that I met along the way also and helped me out with some things along they way that I needed to be helped out with. I just wanted to tell them thanks also."