Mink on the Motorcycle

Despite spawning two massive singles and selling over a million copies, Cam’ron’s Come Home With Me never reached the “classic” status of other Roc-A-Fella releases like Freeway’s Philadelphia Freeway or Beanie Sigel’s The Truth. Signed by Dame Dash (who famously promoted Cam to Vice President while Jay-Z was on vacation), Cam was somewhat of an outsider at the label; as president of the Diplomats he had his own priorities, and was much more likely to scream “dipset” on a record than the requisite “It’s the Roc!” Unlike Beans and Free, he never cultivated much of a relationship with Jay-Z (although he did take a few shots at Nas) and in some ways his signing was a symptom of the power struggle between Jay and Dame, who was looking to sign as many new artists as possible in the face of Hov’s looming “retirement.” In terms of label unity, Cam’s arrival at the Roc was the beginning of the end, as he brought with him a whole crew of emcees (Juelz, Jim Jones and Frekey Zeekey) who felt little loyalty to their parent company and threatened to oversaturate the market with the Roc-A-Fella brand.

That said, Come Home With Me is a hell of an album. While not as flamboyant as Purple Haze—which would forever endear Cam to the hipster set—the disc in many ways exemplifies the best of the Roc-A-Fella era, which in 2002 had reached something of a critical and commercial apex. Though the guest list leans heavily on Cam’s Diplomats crew, the production is classic R-O-C, with Just Blaze, Kanye, and various disciples providing lush, anthemic beats and those ubiquitous sped-up vocal samples, before the Heatmakerz ruined the trend. Lyrically, Cam proves himself a worthy addition to the roster, lacing his bragadoccio with hilariously offensive punchlines and endless quotables. Politics aside, his signing should have been a boon to the label, his sense of humor providing a needed balance to the almost oppressively straight-faced lineup of Jay, Bleek, Sigel and Free. Alas, Cam’s stint on the Roc would prove short-lived, and after complaining of insufficient promotion of Purple Haze, Harlem’s finest secured his release from the label—by then a sinking ship—in 2004. I haven’t heard much yet of Crime Pays, but a lot of reviewers have complained about its low-budget production. As the tracks below illustrate, that certainly isn’t an issue on Come Home With Me. For the most part, these beats sound expensive, and Killa Cam does them proud.

(No “Oh Boy” or “Hey Ma” here; y’all already know those knock.)

Daydreaming ft. Tiffany (Prod. by Ray Watkins, Lelan Robinson and Mike T)

Produced by three dudes I’ve never heard of, this is the closest thing to a “for-the-ladies” record on the album. That bit about stealing from the collection plate is pure gold.

Welcome to New York City ft. Jay-Z & Juelz Santana (Prod. Just Blaze)

Cam and Jigga trade bars over a particularly lethal Just Blaze beat. Thankfully, Juelz sticks to the chorus.

On Fire Tonight ft. Frekey Zekey (Prod. Ty Fyffe)

As the title coyly suggests, this is a hilariously mysoginistic ode to venereal disease. Ty Fyffe’s R&B beat is somehow very fitting.

I Just Wanna ft. Juelz Santana (Prod. Ty Fyffe and Neek Rucker)

“I Just Wanna” takes the sped-up soul craze to its comical extreme, looping up a vocal section from D’Angelo’s “Untitled (How Does It Feel).” Totally shameless.

Dead or Alive ft. Jimmy Jones (Prod. Kanye West)

Kanye’s only contribution to the album, “Dead or Alive” finds Killa and a much-less-annoying-than-now Jim Jones spitting over yet another high-speed vocal sample. ‘Ye doesn’t make ’em like this anymore.

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