Mixtape Memories: 15 Classic Cam’ron Mixtape Cuts
Words by Daniel Isenberg (@StanIpcus)
In the history of the rap game, many MCs have emerged from humble beginnings to become full blown superstars by making a name for themselves on DJ mixtapes. Harlem’s own Cam’ron is one of them, and compared to the other great New York artists who made their mark on the mixtape scene early, like 50 Cent, Biggie, Nas, and Jay Z, his mixtape discography just may be the most dominant of them all. Not only did he drop classic freestyles during his years coming up in the late ’90s, but he went on a run with The Diplomats and Uptown’s DJ Kay Slay in the early 2000s, putting out Volume after Volume of classic mixtape compilations that could only be rivaled by G-Unit and DJ Whoo Kid’s series. But if you revisit those tapes, you’ll find that lyrically, Cam’ron was on another level than his competition. And that’s not to take anything away from 50 and his click, but Killa was definitely spitting some next shit during his prime, and that needs to be acknowledged properly.
To celebrate the release of Cam’ron’s latest mixtape Ghetto Heaven Vol. 1, which will be followed by his First of the Month mini-series, here are 15 Classic Cam’ron Mixtape Cuts dating back to 1996 that showcase his prolific past on the mixtape scene. The list is jam-packed with exclusive freestyles, unreleased songs, live radio recordings released by DJs, diss tracks, remixes, blends, and more (we threw in some bonus stuff), featuring original mixtape audio. From his early days rapping Uptown with Ma$e and Big L, to the birth of The Diplomats, to his run with Roc-A-Fella Records, enjoy our latest edition of Mixtape Memories. And next time you’re talking Top 5 Dead or Alive, please don’t be disrespectful and leave King Jaffe Joe’s name out of the discussion. He belongs in the conversation, and he has the track record to prove it. Killa!
1. Children of the Corn (Big L, Herb McGruff, Mase Murda, Killa Kam, Bloodshed) “American Dream” (Off DJ S&S and DJ Craig G’s Niggas Don’t Give a Fuck)
Before Cam’ron was a solo artist, he was a part of a Harlem-based rap group called Children of the Corn, which also featured Big L (RIP), Murda Mase (who would go on to be known as just Ma$e), Herb McGruff, and Bloodshed (RIP). That’s quite the lineup, huh? A full “Collector’s Edition” compilation of their material was released eventually, which you can now find online, but their breakout song “American Dream” first got burn on DJ S&S and DJ Craig G’s mixtape Niggas Don’t Give A Fuck, well before Cam’ron or Ma$e released solo projects. 2Pac fans and hip-hop scholars in general may recognize the sample in the beat from “I Ain’t Mad At Cha.”
2. Ma$e, Iman Thug, Pierre Cardan, Noreaga, Killa Kam, and Tragedy “Freestyle” (off DJ Clue’s Show Me the Money Pt. 2)
For the B-side of DJ Clue’s Show Me The Money Pt. 2 mixtape, the Queens DJ rounded up a group of the hottest new rappers in the game to get busy on an extended freestyle cut. Ma$e sets it off over Biggie’s “Who Shot Ya?” instrumental, and is followed by Queens rapper Iman Thug, and Pierre Cardan, a Harlem World rapper who faded into obscurity rather quickly, though he does kick some shit on this. Then, when the beat switches up to Dr. Dre’s “Bitches Ain’t Shit” instrumental, Noreaga hops on, before passing the mic to Cam’ron and Tragedy. Watch out for Killa on here, though. He makes his presence felt, hogging the mic to show and prove how much of a problem he was. And he most certainly got his point across.
3. Cam’ron ft. Ma$e “Phone Tap” Freestyle (off The Best of DJ Clue: The Freestyles Part Two)
Clue eventually landed is own time slot on Hot 97, and this freestyle session with Cam’ron rapping over The Firm’s Dr. Dre-produced “Phone Tap” beat, with Ma$e hyping him up in the back, once again showcased Killa’s superb rapping abilities. It eventually made its way onto the The Best of DJ Clue: The Freestyles Part Two compilation, though you can tell by his flow it’s actually from the time period before the “Up In Smoke” freestyle you will see below that was found on Part One. The verse is bananas, too. Cam’s like, “Ride by you and your girl, I see her cheesin’/Y’all beefin’, I be the reason,” then adds, “Eff Will Smith, I’ll run up in Jada Pinkett, real stiff.” Ma$e is amped, too, like, “Who want it, Clue? Who want it?!”
4. Cam’ron and Charli Baltimore “Incarcerated Scarfaces” Freestyle (off Funkmaster Flex’s The Mix Tape Volume III)
Cam linked up with fellow Untertainment artist Charli Baltimore on Funk Flex’s retail release The Mix Tape Volume III, and did his best K-Solo “Letterman” impression over Raekwon’s “Incarcerated Scarfaces” instrumental, rapping, “I’m wanted by the ATF plus the IRS/Put you in EMS, bloody like PMS.” He adds later, “I’m the type to fucking eat dinner with the Dahmers.” Vicious.
5. Cam’ron “Freestyle” (off DJ Whoo Kid & DJ Stretch Armstrong’s Murda Mixtape Pt. 5)
DJ Whoo Kid and Stretch Armstrong had a series of dope mixtape releases together, and Killa popped up on Murda Mixtape Pt. 5 to lay down a lengthy freestyle, going a good three minutes without stopping, letting it be known, “Bullet through the phone, I call the shots.” Killa also spit a portion of this verse during a studio interview from the pre-S.D.E. days we posted a few years back.
6. Cam’ron “Up In Smoke” Freestyle (off The Best of DJ Clue: The Freestyles Part One)
“All y’all was out at the Up In Smoke Tour/I was Uptown, gats out, up in coke wars.” Yup, Killa brought it on this shit, spitting hard body bars over the Just Blaze-produced Dynasty album “Intro.” He took an early likeness to Jigga beats, and this is one of many on this list that he murders. Of course DJ Clue had to include it on the first part of his best freestyles compilation, and there’s also a version out there with the rest of the Diplomats rhyming on it. In addition, Killa rapped different bars over the same beat on Diplomats Volume 5.
7. Cam’ron ft. Juelz Santana and Freekey Zekey “We Got Money” (off DJ Kay Slay’s Original Gangsters Pt. 9)
When you sit back and think about how much time your favorite rappers spend in the studio, it only makes sense that they have an abundance of material leftover from sessions that was never released. Well, thanks to dudes like DJ Kay Slay, some of those stashed away songs eventually found their way into the streets, and this is one of them. Cam’s flow is ill, as he raps, “I never knew birds and bees, only birds and kis, a few times even served the Ds.” And a young Juelz gets busy on this too, taking car talk to the next level, rapping, “Took the wood out, put fishes in the dash/Now niggas wanna go fishing in the dash/Bitches wanna play feed the fishes in the dash/Just to think, I was about to put a kitchen in the dash/Have a little stove, plates, and dishes in the dash.” Hahaha, amazing.
8. The Diplomats “Can I Live” Freestyle (off DJ Enuff’s Hittin’ Heavy 3)
DJ Enuff might be best known for his position at Hot 97, but he’s put out a bunch of quality mixtapes in his day, too. And he got an exclusive cut from The Diplomats for his Hittin’ Heavy 3 tape, which featured the trio getting busy over Jay Z’s “Can I Live” beat, another one of the handful of Hov instrumentals tackled by Killa on this list (there are four more coming heads up). The intro to this is incredible, as Cam stumbles on his words a bit, and at one point says “Manistefstivity.” Total blunder, but totally awesome, too. His verse is better though, as he sets it off, “You get a suit and tie, why, to do paperwork?/Fuck with me dog, I’ll show you how this paper work.” Jimmy and Juelz catch wreck on this, too.
9. Cam’ron “Takeover” Freestyle (off DJ Envy & Lenny S.’ Roc-A-Fella Mixtape Volume 3)
When Cam’ron signed with Roc-A-Fella Records, it was HUGE news (the cover is cut off above, but if you look closely at the bottom you can see this tape had an announcement that read “Cam’ron signs to Roc-A-Fella). Has there been a bigger New York artist signing in the history of hip-hop by a Big Apple-based label? Probably not. And to set off his career with The Roc, Killa took his turn on the Kanye West-produced diss track “Takeover,” letting it be known early, “I’m about to Reynolds Wrap this.” ‘Ye actually threw this on his Get Well Soon mix CD too after it first premiered here. With this freestyle, it was clear: Roc-A-Fella Records had a new superstar, and he was poised to take over the game.
10. Cam’ron “Momma Loves Me” (off DJ Envy & Lenny S.’ Roc-A-Fella Mixtape Volume 3)
Killa continued his slaughter of Blueprint beats with another exclusive freestyle over “Blueprint (Momma Loves Me),” and on the intro he spoke specifically about the deal, saying, “I just signed with them niggas…cut this shit short.” He also reminded everyone to stop calling him Rico, which is his character’s name in Paid in Full. Cam sounds excited on this, and he definitely bodies the fuck out of the Bink-produced beat, with quotables like, “I use 80 rubbers baby bubba/And I done fucked your aunt, moms, sister, or your baby mother.” In fact, Action Bronson recently recited this same line during one of his hilarious Vine videos.
11. Cam’ron “Rocafella Get Money” (off DJ Kay Slay’s Diplomats Volume 1)
Supposedly before Biggie died, he wanted to sign Cam’ron. Well, if B.I.G. was alive to hear this, you already know he would’ve loved it. The first verse is amazing, as Cam tells a tale of meeting a girl, getting her high, and then riding off with her as she gives him dome. He describes the scene, rapping, “Wrapped her lips around my pole/Damn near wrapped the whip around the pole.” Too much fun.
*Bonus* Cam’ron “Stan (RMX)” (Stan Spit Diss)
Cam tucked Harlem rapper Stan Spit’s whole career in with this no hold’s barred diss track over Eminem’s “Stan” instrumental. Just listen.
12. Cam’ron “Hot 97 Freestyle” (DJ Clue & DJ Envy’s Desert Storm Mixtape Volume 1)
Welcome to exclusiveness. For Clue and Envy’s collaborative tape Desert Storm Volume 1, they got a hold of DJ Enuff’s Hot 97 Rush Hour freestyle session with Cam’ron and Beanie Sigel. In this clip, Beans falls back, and let’s Cam go super in and rep for his new set on the airwaves. This shit is straight bars. He blacks for like four minutes straight over Hov’s “Breathe Easy” beat. Talk about lyrical exercise.
13. Cam’ron ft. Jim Jones “Hate Me Now”/”Show You How To Do This (Remix)” (Nas Diss) (Off DJ Kay Slay’s Diplomats Volume 2)
By the time The Diplomats got to Volume 2 of their mixtape series, the Roc-A-Fella beef with Nas was in full force. And Cam wasted no time siding with his new squad, going hard at Esco over the “Hate Me Now” beat. He started by letting Nas know, “You a terry cloth, that mean you very soft,” but by the end he’s not holding back at all, rapping, “Take your daughter, R. Kelly, have my way with her face.” Ouch. And as if that wasn’t enough, he remixed Hov’s “Show You How” instrumental right after, proclaiming, “This bastard’s gonna burn, he’s the wackest from The Firm.” Check both below.
*Bonus* Cam’ron ft. McGruff “Pain and Agony”
Another joint off Diplomats Volume 2, “Pain and Agony” features fellow Uptown MC and Children of the Corn alumnus McGruff. It’s got a great sample flip, and Cam and McGruff sound like old pros on here, each laying down dope verses with effortless style. This is that Uptown old soul swag, and it deserves to be applauded and cherished, rather than slept on.
14. Cam’ron “Chosen One Freestyle” (off Team Invasion’s Best of Green Lantern: Dipset )
During our Mixtape Memories interview with DJ Green Lantern, he talked about how he at one point had a radio show at Hot 97 in the early 2000s, and also how his crew Team Invasion used to make “Best of” mixtapes. Well these facts are both relevant here, as a freestyle Cam’ron did for Green ended up on Team Invasion’s Best of Dipset mixtape, and it sounds like it was originally featured on the radio thanks to the edited curses and Hot 97 shout out. It’s a short but sweet gem, where Cam raps over DMX’s “What These Bitches Want” instrumental, flowing proper out the gate, asking, “You really think I wanna f**king sit here and rap?/When there’s cars to be copped, chicks to be slapped/Wrists to be wrapped, grip to be stacked/Guns to be cocked, clicks to be clacked.” Dope.
*Bonus* Biggie Smalls and Cam’ron “Gun Talk (GL Mix)”
Green Lantern was of course known for his tremendous blends and remixes, and on this joint that originally appeared on Invasion II: Conspiracy Theory and then ended up on the Best of Dipset tape pictured above, he put Biggie and Cam vocals over Birdman and The Clipse’s 21st Century classic “What Happened to That Boy.” They don’t call him the Evil Genius for nothing.
15. The Diplomats “Jamaican Joint” (off Dipset/Byrd Gang Vol. 1)
After five volumes of Diplomats mixtapes with DJ Kay Slay, Cam and company released Dipset/Byrd Gang Vol. 1, a compilation tape that continued the crew’s tradition of street releases, and of course it was loaded with exclusives. On “Jamaican Joint,” Killa, Juelz, and Jimmy spit bars over the same loop from Super Cat’s “Dolly My Baby” instrumental, which you may remember originally featured a verse by Biggie Smalls on the remix. Cam kills it too, like, “I puff large jars, I keep large guards/Blow you to Mars, get ghost like Large Marge/And I’m a pretty nigga, plus I’m pretty bitter/Malicious city slicker, put you in kitty litter.” Oh shit.
*Bonus Mixtape* Streetsweepers Presents: Diplomats Throwbacks & Unreleased Exclusives
In 2004, DJ Kay Slay put out a compilation of unreleased Diplomats songs and freestyles, and as a bonus, we’d like to invite you to download it. It’s chock full of exclusives, a few of couple of which made our short list via other mixtape releases, and others which are certainly worthy of accolades. We’ll respect the Streetsweepers brand and keep them together for the purposes of this Mixtape Memories feature. Download via our brethren at UpNorthTrips. Dip Set, Dip Set, Dip Set, what? Owwwwwww.
Previously: Mixtape Memories: 10 Classic Biggie Smalls Mixtape Cuts | Mixtape Memories with DJ Drama (Part 1) | Mixtape Memories with DJ Drama (Part 2) | Mixtape Memories with DJ Green Lantern (Part 1) | Mixtape Memories with DJ Green Lantern (Part 2) | Mixtape Memories with Tony Touch | Mixtape Memories: 5 Classic Kanye West Freestyles |Mixtape Memories: 5 Classic Redman Freestyles