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Pockets Dumb Fat

Listen, Columbo. You're mad because your money comes slow, and what you make in a year, I make at one show.
Κείμενο Jon Caramanica


Listen, Columbo. You're mad because your money comes slow, and what you make in a year, I make at one show. So quit hating—Harlemworld's back up in this bitch, back like it left something. And Santana's Town ain't playing. Jim Jones, whose comedy-rap contributions to the Dip Set album were not to be missed—and whose recent Capo Status mixtape features rough gems like "Certified Gangstas"—has just inked a deal with Koch for his solo debut, due this summer. Newbie J.R. Writer may sound a bit Cam-a-like on his recent material, but he's welcome accompaniment to Juelz' Santana's post-cadence rapping. Hell Rell isn't out of the bing yet, I don't think, but he's still giving the block a run for its money.


And Cam, forever Cam. Killa's "Get Em Girls" is as avant a slice of black pop as has e'er been seen on BET, word to Beans and Priest. There's frazzled operatic vocal riffing, choral woofing, sweeter-than-Jada kisses, and some of our man's finest minimal metaphors: "I style up in my gear/Stallion of the year/ Medallions in my ear/Whips on my fists/Houses on my wrists/Your budget on my neck/Your spouse on my dick." Except I don't think Cam thinks he's rapping anything other than fact, and I don't think he grasps the idea of exaggeration. His truth is so preposterous—customizing a pink Range Rover, then selling it on eBay when he trades up to a pink Rolls—that reason long ago got left on the side of the Major Deegan. If he wants to call his yellow-diamond earrings lemonheads, there's no one to stop him. "Bitches say I'm tacky, daddy," he says on the roots-ish "Killa Cam," (Both songs available on Diplomats Vol. 5, at but if they do, they're missing the point. Cam is a dandy, and a true dandy doesn't look in the mirror to second-guess himself.

It's a far cry from when Cam was just another Harlem doughboy in the mid-90s, angling to get put on. Before "Horse & Carriage," Cam was part of the Children of the Corn crew, which also featured Mase, Big L, and Bloodshed. Producer Digga has just released some prime vintage CoC material on Collector's Edition ( Cam raps twice as fast as he does now, though strangely, he says a whole lot less. There were intimations of the fashion plate he was to become—"Bitches see me/Looking creamy/In my Sergio Tacchini"—but mostly he's preoccupied with the neighborhood that cried when Rich Porter died. And why wouldn't he be—he hadn't left it yet.


Big L only appears on six of the CoC songs, but his metaphors and similes were in good order even then: "Where I'm from, niggas' jewels get run like red lights." He's even better on the well-compiled Harlem's Finest: A Freestyle History Vol. I & II (available at It features L rapping over "Hard To Handle"—"a lot of rappers talk that murder shit and couldn't kill time"—freestyles dating back to 1992, and a pair of Stretch & Bobbito sessions on which the flamboyant one goes up against Jay-Z (just coming out of his post-Jaz stiggity-stiggity mode) and more than holds his own.

Even though L was the least pretty of the CoC alumni—"Bitches get fucked on the roof when I ain't got no hotel"—he embodied Harlem's slick aesthetic with the meticulous precision of his rhymes. Sadly, he was also the CoC member who had the hardest time parlaying his talent into mass appeal. Allegedly on the cusp of a deal with Roc-A-Fella, L was shot and killed on Feb. 15, 1999, mere blocks from where he grew up, but entire worlds away from crossover kings Cam and Mase.

Speaking of the gospel gangster, it's been rumored of late that Mase is considering a return to the Bad Boy flock, perhaps just in time to head up the label's long-postponed gospel compilation. But does the man who would be Hezekiah Walker still have the gangster to be down with Bad Boy? You wouldn't have guessed it five years back when Mase first fled, but Diddy's fam is the most felonious. First Shyne takes one for the team and ends up with a 10-year bid, cruel thanks for years of honing his Biggie Smalls impression. And now Loon, he of the pencil-thin beard and model good looks, finds himself staring down an attempted murder charge for some nonsense at the House of Blues in Los Angeles.

Here's my thing with Loon: he's too handsome to have stabbed anyone. If Ghost is the Wally Champ, certainly Loon is the Moisturizer Prince. And the thought of his delicate, carefully manicured hands being used for anything but the tender gripping of mics and breasts—well, that's just absurd. Possible conspiracy: the day after he posted his ungodly amount of bail, Loon appeared at the Los Angeles Hip-Hop Summit and spoke incredibly frankly about the need for young people to vote, and how when he was 18, his grandfather hustled him off the block and into the voting booth, or something like that. So free Loon, prisoner of conscience! (And while we're at it, let's free Hell Rell, too!) Harlem is no terrorist cell, even if there is a Taliban logo on the most recent Dip Set mixtapes.

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Cam'ron's Top Five Mixtape Song Titles

1. Deep Thoughts 2. Dead Muthafuckas 3. Aaayoo 4. Shut The Fuck Up 5. Diamonds & Pearls