Screenshots via Vevo
Atlanta rapper K. Camp is not known for being a particularly subtle artist. His breakout 2013 single, "Money Baby," literally goes "I like that money, baby" on the hook, which is maybe the most obvious sentiment for a song possible. His follow-up hit, "Cut Her Off" goes "it ain't nothing to cut that bitch off," which is both a simple statement and a somewhat objectionable one. But it's the almost goofily straightforward nature of K. Camp's music—and, more importantly, its addictive catchiness—that makes it so enjoyable and also so hard to truly take issue with. K. Camp's great musical ideal is essentially for everything to be a big party—he literally recorded his latest single "Lil Bit" during a party—and who are we to stand in the way of that?
What's less evident about K. Camp is his utter devotion to craft. When we met up to talk about his music, he repeatedly described his early days recording in his mom's basement and writing over Lady Gaga songs to practice his versatility. Unlike many of Atlanta's seeming overnight stars, he's been making music for close to a decade, and, after a few false starts, near-hits, and shady business dealings, he finally broke through with "Money Baby." He's since been asked to write for the likes of Rihanna and Nicki Minaj, and he landed the hook on one of my favorite songs of last year, Snootie Wild's "Made Me." There's no question that K. Camp has the chops to be more than just the "Money Baby" and "Cut Her Off" guy, and he's eager to prove that. His debut album is coming later this year, and, from what I heard of it when he played it for me, it will live up to his promise of showing a slightly different side of his talent, with more introspective lyrics and some more straightforward crooning.
That said, his latest single, "Lil Bit," which Noisey is premiering the video for below, is pure party, and it's a lot of fun. It's stupid (one part literally goes "smoke, smoke, smoke / drink, drink, drink"), but it's also slyly funny. Prize lyrics include "Rolled up the blunt, got a dutch full of Shrek" and "Jar full of weed, baby girl I got plenty / Breakfast for the chick like I work at Denny's" (waiting for your hip tweets about this song, Denny's!). Sticking with that concept, the video finds K. Camp commandeering an Uber to pick up a variety of hapless passengers, girls who are ready to get naked, other girls who just want to smoke, and, improbably, a large rabbit. It's debauched but funny, which is in keeping with K. Camp's general vibe. And it might be more realistic than one would assume. Hilariously, when I finished my interview with K. Camp, he almost hopped in someone else's waiting Uber. Life: Sometimes it mimics art!
You said your album is going to show people who K. Camp really is. Who is K. Camp?
A self-made, versatile, independent, well-spoken, say-the-hell-what-I-want kind of guy. I do what I want, I say how I feel, and I ain't gonna hold back. In my music I'm going to say what I want. I'm not going to hold back because I'm worried I'm going to offend somebody. I'm going to say the shit. It's music. You're supposed to express yourself, so that's what I do.
A lot of people have an issue with your music because they see it as sexist or misogynistic.
Yeah, I might have heard that a couple times. But then I hit 'em with “Blessing,” and they ain't got no problem. I hit 'em with “Cut Her Off,” and then I made a song right after called “She's a Blessing.”
Do you think that absolves you, though?
I'm not going to say it resolves it, but then they're like 'OK, he ain't too goddamn [sexist], saying fuck these hoes.' But shit, I'm 24 years old, that's how I'm living. I'm fucking bitches and all of that! So like I said, I'm going to say how I feel. I'm going to say what's on my mind, and that's how we're rocking. At the same time, “Blessing” was for my ex-girlfriend. It's like real life situations. Don't just get stuck on the single. Go back and listen to it all and that's who K. Camp is.
You have a really good relationship with your mom. She used to be your manager. What does she think of all of this, of people saying “Cut Her Off” is sexist or whatever?
Man, my mama ain't trying to hear that shit the same way I ain't trying to hear that shit. She's just like me— well, I'm just like her because I'm her son—but she supports my shit. I had a song back in the day, I think when I was in high school, it was called “Cocky Bitches.” And my mama heard it—I didn't want her to hear it because I'm young. I hope the song never comes out or gets serviced ever again. It goes “I like cocky bitches / cocky bitches like my cock.” On some dumb fun shit, right? I put it on MySpace, and that shit was catching. But she heard that shit, so it's like what could get worse than that? I could say whatever the hell I want, and ain't nothing going to be worse than that fucking song.
Do you have a singing background?
My grandma, my aunties, they all were in bands. I've got an uncle, his name is Artie the Party. He plays the piano in Vegas and Reno and Tahoe. Like Charles Barkley and Michael Jordan play golf with him. He's real popular out there.
That's a great nickname, Artie the Party.
That shit's hard!
But you personally never sang?
I never sang in no choir or anything. I honestly taught myself how to sing.
Something like “Money Baby,” that’s so obvious, but nobody had done it. Where does writing something like that come from?
I’ll tell you right now: Simplicity. Don’t make shit so difficult. As far as my process right now, I’m going to say what nobody has said. I’m going to see what happens. But you can’t make shit too difficult. The audience nowadays, they don’t want to hear no [mimics patter of lyrical rap]. Some hip-hop heads still love that, but you have to make it easy for them. Simple shit, like I like money. I like smoking weed. Everybody likes that shit! So it’s a no-brainer.
And the way people digest music is moving toward shorter formats.
It’s crazy because me, when I make music, I really like making real soulful shit, really writing and talking about what the fuck I’ve got going on. But coming out of Atlanta, they don’t want to hear that shit. I’ve been plotting and planning for years. I knew where I was at and what my audience, and what side of town I was from, and what they wanted to hear, so I had to dumb that shit down. I had to make the “Money Baby,” “Cut Her Off.” I had to make some ratchet shit.
The album, you’ll see who K. Camp really is. It’s frustrating because I hate dumbing that shit down. I hate doing it, but I’ve got to. People don’t understand, but sometimes you’ve got to. You’ve got to play the game. So that’s what I did. For years I’ve been playing the game. It’s fun. I’m not going to sit here and lie. You’re going to make some money. I love it regardless. It’s music.
Your neighborhood in Atlanta, when you say you had to cater to them: Where did you grow up?
I grew up on the North Side. Marietta. The real North Side. Texano, Club Mariachi. A lot of artists broke on the North Side that people don’t even know. Like Waka, Travis Porter, they was all popping—there was a club called Mariachi that had like an open mic battleground. Everybody you could think of was coming through there and broke on the North Side.
When did you start going there?
When I had that record “All Night,” when that was hot. I was like 18, 19, getting drunk every fucking night. My mama used to do real estate, and we had a house, like a five-bedroom house, that was like a fucking frat house. All my fucking partners getting drunk every night. I thought my liver was going to fall out. Drunk as fuck, bitches all through house. I was young. Nowadays, club shit and all that hype shit, I’m like ‘we been did this.’ I’ve got to do it ‘cause I’m an artist, and I’ve got to be in that environment, but I’ve been doing it. I still turn up the Hennessey bottle like it ain’t shit, but I’ve been doing that, and I just relive it through my music. Ain’t no bitch gonna run no game on me. Especially in Atlanta, we know about y’all. The same ones that think that they popping right now, that’s in the strip club on Instagram, 500,000 followers, we done smashed y’all, had y’all. We know about y’all.
Tell me about “Lil Bit,” the concept there.
We’d been on the road for a whole year, and I took like two, three months to work on the album. Because the mistake I didn’t want to make that a lot of artists make is they forget about the music. I’m going to do it every fucking time. If I go on the road, I’m going to take two or three months off to work on my music because that’s what’s going to keep me out here. Not fucking popping bottles in the club, not looking fresh on Instagram—the music.
For “Lil Bit,” we had rented out a slum mansion—I call it a slum mansion because Slumlord, that’s my crew. We was in there for a month. There was a pool in that bitch, a basketball court, we had that bitch turnt. It was lit. So it was just one random ass day, we was drinking, fucked up. And Fruit was down there in the basement. We had set up the whole studio in the basement. Fruit’s down there making a beat, him and AP are making a beat, and I came downstairs like ‘damn, that shit’s hard.’ I ain’t ever heard no shit like that, the way it hit. I was like ‘plug me up!’
Noisey exclusive: Watch the "Lil Bit" video. Interview continues below:
So, to deviate for a moment, I have to ask about renting out these mansions. This is like your thing that you’ve been doing for a long time then?
It’s like a family thing. When everybody’s connected everything feels so much better. Instead of me being separated from everybody recording. I like to, for example, record a record like “Lil Bit,” go upstairs, get fucked up with some bitches, with my niggas, party, playing 2K, go back down there, make some more music. It’s better like that. Then I can go back in the booth and say some shit that just happened.
A lot of artists think I don’t fuck with them because I don’t come to the studio, but if it’s not my people, I don’t like being in the studio with a whole bunch of random people. Like you’ll be in the booth, say you’re saying some shit, you’re rapping a verse, you think you’re going the hardest, and you’re looking outside and niggas are going [makes a blank face]. That’ll kill your whole vibe!
Are there certain artists or producers you do like working with? Because I feel like Atlanta right now has a pretty collaborative vibe.
Yeah, and I wasn’t really even a part of that. My thing was—I wouldn’t say standalone because I fuck with every artist, Migos, everybody—I was trying to build my brand. I didn’t want to be attached to nothing else and tied to anybody. I wanted to worry about K. Camp and who was K. Camp and what K. Camp was doing, and I think a lot of people took that as ‘he don’t fuck with us.’ But it worked out in the long run. I don’t want to be little homie. I’m the big homie. I hate being lil bro. Don’t lil bro me.
So “Lil Bit,” it’s a pretty funny video. Tell me a little about how it came together.
They came to me with the Uber idea. I was like ‘that sounds pretty dope.’ I didn’t know how it was going to work out, but I liked the idea.
I think I’m the first one to put Uber in a video like that. That might turn Uber’s stock up. I turnt Lime-a-rita’s stock up, and I didn’t make a fucking cent from it. They’re making all types of fucking Lime-a-ritas. Cherry, Grape, Cranberry. Man, Budweiser owes me a check.
Follow Kyle Kramer on Twitter.